ADVENTURES IN THE BRAZILIAN FOLKLORE
Girassol Brazil Publishing House
Translated by Silvia Zanette Guimarães
For children up to 5
This book has 8 stories about the most famous characters of Brazilian folklore. By using their characteristics – that are explained in a box at the end of the story - the author has created new adventures for them with lot of fun.
The Revenge of the Boto
The Caipora's Visit
Two Siblings and a Headless Mule
The Iara's Hair
The Help of the Pasturing Little Nigger
The Explorer and the Curupira
Aline and the Werewolf
About the Illustrator
About the Author
You can find here 3 stories in English:
The Revenge of the Boto
Two Siblings and a Headless Mule
The Iara's Hair
The Revenge of the Boto *
(* the Boto is a kind of a river dolphin from the Amazonas)
Dudu was going to be 7, but, being small and very thin, he looked a bit younger. He was somewhat handsome, but didn't show any striking feature: the curly hair surrounded his long face, he had tiny eyes and his mouth was too big. He felt embarrassed because his two front teeth, the incisors, had fallen out, as usual at his age, and were taking too long to come through. The poor boy was showing a vampire face and his mates were always mocking him.
"Wild animal!" they shouted as he walked by.
"You look like a toothless animal!" one taunted.
"He's nothing of an animal! He looks like a fish!" said another.
It was like a theatre play: everyone knew his role by heart. They shouted:
Then, after offending the poor boy by comparing him to weird fish, they laughed a lot. The terrible joke always ended up with the painful question:
"Where is your father, oh you dwarf manatee? If you have one!"
Dudu had no answer, because he didn't know where his father was.
The boy did not even remember his father, cause there were no pictures to remind. When he tried to talk to his mother, she gasped, hid her face in her hands and cried, but she never said anything. Dudu got very confused.
Soon, the boy did not want to go to school anymore.
But this was happening now, because once... Oh, how good it was!
Dudu was always happy, singing his way along, and never minded waking up early in the morning and walking many miles by the river until he finally arrived tired and sweaty. The teacher was kind and he had a lot of friends to play with.
The boy learned interesting things and had much fun. Now, however...
Dudu felt his chest tighten and a lump in his throat, the air could barely get in. He sighed, thinking: "If I had a father to defend me, they would see!"
That morning, the boy moved like a convict going to the gallows. He dragged himself on, trying to prolong the minutes, because he did not want to arrive. He dreamed of stretching each second like somebody who lenghtens the life which insists on shortening.
"Mom!" he called softly.
She pulled him by the hand, which she held in hers, and said:
He stopped, looked her in the eyes and suddenly asked, in a single breath, so that she could not escape the question:
"Mom, why don't I have a father?"
This time, however, she answered in a different way:
"Of course you have! There is no son without a father."
"So," the boy got even more puzzled, "why doesn't he come home, like my friends' fathers do, when the day is over?"
"Because he does not work."
"No. He lives in the river. He comes almost every night to visit us."
"But I never see him..."
Dudu could not understand anything.
"That's because your father..." The mother hid her face in her hands and confessed, in a very loud voice:
"Your father is a Boto, my son."
Dudu shouted the word in amazement, then repeated it more slowly:
So his mother stopped walking and said:
"I will tell you everything."
They both sat down on the riverbank, she looked at the water flowing and began to speak:
It happened at a party by the river, about seven years ago. At that time, I felt sad and alone: all my friends had boyfriends, but I had eyes for nobody. Then, at my best friend's wedding party, an unknown caboclo* (N.T. The term caboclo means "deriving from the white". Thus its primary meaning is mestizo, "a person of part Amerindian and part European descent." But it may also be used to refer to any Indigenous Brazilian) appeared, so beautiful and spirited, with an old-fashioned hat on his head. The boys went green with envy because the girls, in the greatest excitement, could not take their eyes of him.
He asked me to dance and didn't pay attention to anyone else. We danced all night long... And howbeautiful he danced! Afterwards, we went strolling hand in hand under the full moonlight. Very gallant, he said so many beautiful things to me that I forgot everything else... Suddenly, the sun began to rise and he jumped into the water, disappearing among the ripples.
I was sure he was a Boto, so, each time he appeared – and he returned many times to visit us – I never asked where he had been. The only thing that mattered to me was to know that he loved and cared about us.
Dudu could hardly believe in that amazing story. He never thought that such a fantastic thing could be true. Buther mother also added:
"Now I want to tell you a big secret."
Almost without breathing, Dudu listened to what his mother had hidden from everybody and now was sharing with him. This was by far the best thing of all!
On that day Dudu arrived late at school, but his eyes were shining.
"Dead Fish Eyes, don't you get tired of showing this black hole in your mouth?" laughed a classmate.
"I am smiling," he replied confidently.
"And can you tell us why?" asked the torturer.
"Because I am happy. Tonight the Boto will make you a little visit..."
"Boto ? What Boto? I don't believe it!"
"My father. Today I found out that I am son of the Boto. And if wicked boys bother me, my father punishes them."
"Do you think we will believe it?"
"You must not believe. Just wait for the night to come. There will be a party tonight, and he will come to visit us. He will dance with my mother and take revenge for all your offenses to me.
His mates opened their eyes widely . They had already heard some stories about it... A terrified boy muttered:
"We were just kidding..."
Another one became pale.
"Explain it to him, please," he asked.
"Oh, really? So do bear in mind that I will tell him everything you had done to me!"
The wicked mates started to cry.
At that moment, Dudu woke up. He opened his eyes and saw the old dresser in the corner of the window with flower curtains, the bookcase on the shelf for books and CDs, the clothes scattered around the open backpack, the school notebooks.
He began to laugh, got up and went running to his parents' bed, in the next bedroom. He laid down in between them and exclaimed:
"I had such a strange dream!"
And he told them.
The three laughed a lot and Dudu hugged his father tightly, saying:
"I'm glad you're not a Boto! But if you were, I think I would love you just the same! Because... you know what? It's great to have a dad like you!
The boto is a kind of river dolphin that lives in the Amazon region. Also known as pink dolphin, it can be 1.8–2.5 m long and to weigh 160 kg.
According to the legend, in the evening the botos shape-shift into tall, strong and handsome young men who love dancing, and for this reason they usually attend parties even without being invited. Seductive, they choose the most beautiful girl to date, causing envy in men and jealousy in women. They always wear a hat to hide the breathing hole at the top of their heads. They drink a lot, but they never get drunk. Before the sunrise, they must return to the river cause they will become botos again.
If an unmarried girl gets pregnant, she says the baby's father is a boto and thus keeps the gossips away. It's because people are afraid that father boto can take revenge of the ones who offend his family.
The legend also says that, in order to disenchant a boto, one must throw a rotten head of garlic into the river.
The boto is a character of the Amazon folk tales.
Two siblings and a Headless Mule
"How is a headless mule like?"
Fabiana was very puzzled.
"Imagine a horse, which looks like a mule, and now take its head off. It's done. That's it," replied her older brother, who thought himself too smart.
"This I already knew. I am just wondering how it could breath fire through its nostrils if it has no head and even less nostrils!"
"Imagine that it breathes fire through the hole where its head should be. It should be like this."
"So, it's not through the nostrils."
"The headless mule is a magic being. It can be the way you want."
"But I don't want!"
"What don't you want?"
"I don't want it to exist."
"So you just have to think it doesn't exist."
"I am scared!"
"Nonsense. It's only a legend."
"Is a legend like a tale?"
"More or less, yes."
"Can you tell me its legend?"
A long time ago, a king and a queen lived happily ruling the kingdom. One Friday night, the king realized the queen had softly left the palace and disappeared, returning only in the morning after. He got puzzled and began to watch her. Nothing happened during the week but, on Friday night, the escapade was repeated.
It happened again on the other week and the king could no longer reign, because the queen denied she had gone out and didn't agree to talk on the subject. He ordered a man to follow her, but the queen outwitted him and the mystery remained unsolved. The king decided, then, to watch her personally, without being seen by her.
On the following Friday, the monarch saw his wife putting on the cloak and heading towards the cemetery. There, she opened a grave and, right before the king's eyes, devoured a child who had been buried the afternoon before.
The king screamed in terror. Upon seeing him, the queen turned into a headless mule and galloped away into the night to never return to the palace.
Ever since then, every Friday night, the headless mule appears, spewing sparks and fire through its open neck.
"I liked it. But a doubt remains in your story," said his sister. "Why does a woman turn into a headless mule?"
"It happens when a young woman falls in love with a priest," explained her brother. "But it is only a legend."
"Are you really sure the headless mule does not exist?"
"Of course. Completely sure."
"So... Can you tell me what is that, which is looking at us but has no eyes, and breathes fire through its nostrils, but has no nostrils, right there behind the curtain?"
"What? It will set fire to the room! Run!"
HEADLESS MULE FACTS
The headless mule is a mythical being from the folklore of Northeastern Brazil. The story versions are several as well as the physical descriptions of the animal, but most agree it has the appearance of a horse without a head and breathes fire through its neck hole. Nevertheless, it sobs as if it were human. It has a light torch on the tail tip which no wind or rain can put out; its hooves are razor sharp and it gives horrendous kicks when gets angry. Moreover, it tears into pieces by bites anyone who happens to cross its path.
The headless mule is always a woman and the legend says she became so as a punishment for having fallen in love with a priest.
It always appears running fast and its fate is to pass through seven villages before the third crowing of the cock.
In order to chase it away, one should lie face down and hide everything that shines, especially nails and teeth. To disenchant it, one must pull the bridle it has in its mouth (don't ask me how, because I don't know either).
The Iara's Hair
For understanding the story: the Iara is a kind of mermaid. The Bandeirantes were men who made expeditions on finding gold, silver and diamond mines in Brazil
The beautiful Iara was leaning back on a large, round rock. Her long hair fell around like foliages.
Below, the river waters flow silently, but from the waterfall just ahead it was coming a strong sound.
She began to sing.
It was a lovely but a very sad song.
A bandeirante was passing by and heard the singing. "What bird would this be?" he wondered. "I've never heard anything like this."
And he started walking towards the voice.
The bandeirante saw the beautiful young woman on the rock and became fascinated.
She sang sweetly, looking at him.
He noticed her eyes were full of tears. Or would it be the river water drops sprinkling the air?
The bandeirante knew the legend of Iara, a woman who used to draw the men to death with her beautiful singing. At that moment, however, he didn't even remember it.
Getting closer, he politely asked:
"Why are you crying? Can I help you?"
The Iara also didn't remember that she should take him along with her and drown him into the river. She told him the truth:
"I can not untangle my hair, and tonight will be the full moon festival. How am I going to look pretty with this horrible hair?"
He went walking quite slowly towards the rock.
"I think I can fix it," he said. "May I?"
She nodded her head and he got closer and closer to her.
"Close your eyes..." he asked.
She wiped away the tears with the back of her hand, handed him her comb and obeyed.
He opened a pot and began to smooth the cream through her tangled hair.
While combing it, he kept saying a lot of silly phrases, but which calmed her down.
"I have something special here for these cases. It won't hurt you at all. Be very quiet... I will grab just a little bit of hair at a time... Is it okay this way?"
Quite slowly, strand by strand, he was untangling the long hair of the beautiful creature. Then, he also did a massage on her head, so pleasant that the Iara almost fell asleep.
"It's done!" he said suddenly. "Now you can finish to get ready. I bet you'll be the most beautiful one in the festival!"
The 'Iara' dived one last time and got out of the water, releasing a joyful laugh. Then she smacked a kiss on the cheek of the 'bandeirante' and exclaimed:
"Dad, you are really the best! My hair looks great, thanks! It's amazing how, with your stories, you can solve every problem."
The Iara, also called Mother of the Water or Uiara, is a young woman who lives in the Amazon River. Half-woman, half-fish, she looks like a mermaid. The legend says that she is so beautiful that no one can resist her charms. With her wonderful voice, she lures people into the river, drowning them. Brazilian Indians are very much afraid of being enchanted by her, so they avoid being close to lakes and rivers, especially at dusk.
This story is part of the folklore of Northern Brazil, but it is common to several other legends, including from other countries, with some variations.