Friday, September 9, 2011


When I read "Drakes-Tail" in Multicultural Folktales: Stories to Tell Young Children by Judy Sierra and Robert Kaminski, I immediately knew how I wanted to tell it.  The challenge would be creating the storytelling prop I wanted to use.  I did a quick sketch and then refined it into the figure I wanted to make.  (I did it on scrap paper so I apologize for the image from the other side showing.)  I'm posting a photo to show that you don't have to be an artist to create props. 

I then drew the body on a large sheet of drawing paper.  I drew feet and a bill on separate paper.  Then I outlined everything with black marker.  I used yellow and orange poster paint to paint him.  He was too big to color with markers.  I then glued the drawing paper to poster board, cut out (don't forget to cut a hole for the bill) and glued together the pieces.  I added a handle and a bag to the back.  The duck ended up being about 26 inches from the top of his head to the tip of his webbed feet.



I used clip art for the other characters.
(I did draw the river freehand.)

As I told the story, I slipped these pieces through the bill and into the bag:

Going into the mouth ...

and into the bag.
When help was needed, I removed a figure from the bag and pushed it out his mouth.

Versions of this folktale can be found online.  The Wikipedia article about Drakestail states that in the original version he carried his four friends in his bottom end.  I'm sure that would appeal to kids but probably not so much to parents.  Aaron Shepard has a version called Quackling in which his friends are put into a sack.  A bag and a puppet can be used to tell this version of the story.  Drakestail by Jan Wahl is version written for beginning readers. 

A similar story is "The Rooster and the Turkish Sultan."  A version called "The Little Rooster and the Turkish Sultan" can be found in Margaret Read MacDonald's Twenty Tellable Tales: Audience Participation Folktales for the Beginning Storyteller.  Eric Kimmel's The Valiant Red Rooster: A Story from Hungary and The Little Rooster and the Diamond Button by Celia Barker Lottridge are picture book versions of this story.

"Drakes-tail" is an easy story to tell because of the repetitive format and use of rhyme which also appeals to younger children.  It has enough silliness to appeal to older children as well, making it a good choice for Family Story Time.

This week's Flannel Friday round-up can be found at Mel's Desk.


  1. I do not know this story, but I love your prop. Well done!

  2. I need to look up this story, too--I know we've got that book around somewhere. I appreciate so much the behind-the-scenes look you've given everyone of your process. I wish every storytimer I knew was as willing to wing it and make it up as you--too many times it's easier to say, "I don't have a prop for that, I can't do it." Thank you!