How Frog went to Heaven

by Vicky on May 23, 2011

I fell in love with Aaron Shepard’s version of this African story, which is sometimes called The Daughter of Sun and Moon.

For quite a while now, I’ve been wanting to design a puppet show instead of cobbling together a mismatched set of puppets from my collection and my branch’s collection.

I didn’t have time to make new papier-mâché puppets, so I decided to make masks for my puppets!

Kimana, a man of Earth, decides that he wants to marry the Sky Maiden.

So he writes a letter to the Sun Chief and asks his friend, Rabbit, to carry the letter up to heaven for him.

“What?” Rabbit exclaims, “I cannot go to heaven!”

So Kimana takes his letter and goes to see his friend, Antelope.

“You can run so fast, Antelope!” he says, “Will you take this letter to the Sun Chief for me?”

“I may be fast, but I cannot go to heaven!” Antelope retorts.

So Kimana goes looking for his tallest friend, Giraffe.

“Giraffe, will you take this letter to heaven for me?” Kimana begs. “I want to marry the Sky Maiden.”

Giraffe cranes his neck and says, “I can reach halfway up to heaven, but I cannot reach all the way!”

Then Frog hops up and say, “I will take the letter for you.”

Kimana laughs and laughs.  “How can you, a frog, take a letter to heaven?”

“Whatever it is, I can do it,” says Frog. “But only if I try!”

Now Frog lives by a well, and every day he hears the singing of the girls who serve the Sun Chief as they climb down the spiderweb that Anansi the Spider built long ago. Their song sounds like this:

Good day to you, my sister. Good day to you.

Then they fill their water jugs at the well and climb back up the spiderweb to heaven.

Frog takes the letter and hops into one of the jugs when they aren’t looking.  He waits until they put their jugs down and leave the room.  Then he hops out, places the letter on a bench, and hides in a corner.

The Sun Chief comes in to get a drink and sees the letter.  He reads it.  “How can this be?”

He asks the girls, “Did you bring this letter?”

“No, we did not!”

He reads the letter to his wife, the Moon Lady.  “What should we do?”

“Don’t ask me, ask your daughter!” the Moon Lady suggests.

His daughter says, “Let us see if he can bring a wedding gift.”

So the Sun Chief writes a letter and leaves it on the bench.

Frog takes the letter and hides in the water jug again.  When he gets back home, he takes the letter to Kimana.   Kimana reads: “You may marry my daugher if you bring a purse of money.”

“This I cannot do,” Kimana declares.

“Then I will take it for you,” says Frog.

Kimana laughs, but Frog takes the purse of money and figures out a way to fetch the bride home in this delightfully repetitive story.  No matter what is asked of him, Kimana always says, “This I cannot do.”  And he always laughs mockingly at Frog.  And Frog always says, “Whatever it is, I can do it.  But only if I try!”

In the end, when Frog offers to escort the Sky Maiden to her bridegroom, she too laughs at him and says, “How can a frog fetch a bride?”

“I took a letter to heaven,” Frog answers sturdily.  “And I took a purse of money, and then I fetched a bride.  Whatever it is, I can do it.  But only because I tried!”

The Sky Maiden replies, “Then it is you whom I will marry!

The Sky Maiden and the Frog went back up to heaven, where they got married with much happiness and rejoicing.  They lived on and on.

But Kimana is still waiting for his bride.

I had been saving discarded CDs for a while.  We used some on the robot bodipuppets we made in March.  It occurred to me that they would make wonderfully bright eyes for Frog masks, and they did!

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