Journey With Story


Journey With Story

The Three Brothers E:219


The Three Brothers E:219

When three brothers use their talent for telling tall tales to try and trick a wealthy prince into giving them all of his fine possessions, they end up learning a lesson themselves.  A fun folktale from Malaysia.  An episode from storytelling podcast, Journey with Story.  (duration 12 minutes) Ages 4-10

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The Three Brother-Malaysia

Episode 219

February 23,2023

Have you ever heard of a type of story called, a tall tale?  Well, tall tales are a type of story which sound true in many ways, but they also have some parts that are so exaggerated and over the top silly, that make them really unbelievable.  Some famous Tall Tales are Johnny Appleseed, John Bunyan, or Davy Crockett.

Hello everyone. I’m Kathleen Pelley.  Welcome to Journey with Story.  Today’s episode is an old story from Malaysia about three brothers who are always telling these kind of tall tales to everyone they meet and then one day, they decide to use their skill for telling tall tales to get something they want.  I wonder how that will work out for them.  Let’s take a listen and find out.

Before we begin – remember mums and dads and grown ups, if you are enjoying this podcast filled with all types of tales, tall ones included, please take a moment to rate, review, and share with others. Thanks so much.  And you can download some coloring sheets at

Now, let’s take a journey with The Three Brothers.

There once lived three brothers who were known throughout the land for the tall tales they told. They would travel from place to place telling their outrageous stories to anyone would listen.   Of course, no one ever believed their tales and all who heard them with shriek with disbelief.

One day while travelling very far from home the three brothers came upon a wealthy prince. The prince was dressed very grandly from head to toe, bedecked in sparkling jewels, the likes of which they had never seen before.

So enchanted were the brothers at the sight of the prince’s majestic garments, that they were overcome with envy and greed, and at once began to hatch a plan whereby they could use their storytelling skills to trick the prince into giving them his garments.

They said to the prince: “Let’s tell each other stories of past adventures and if anyone should doubt the truth of what the other is saying then that person must become a slave to the others.”

Now the brothers had no use for a slave but if they could make the prince their slave then they could take his clothes because they would then belong to them.

The prince agreed to their plan. The brothers were sure they would win because no one had ever heard their stories without uttering cries of disbelief. And so they found a passer-by and asked him to act as judge in the matter. All sat down under the shade of a tree and the storytelling began.

The first brother stood up to tell his tale. With a smile on his face he began to speak:

“When I was a young boy I thought it would be fun to hide from my brothers so I climbed the tallest tree in our village and remained there all day while my brothers searched high and low for me. When night fell my brothers gave up the search and returned home. It was then I realized I was unable to climb down the tree. But I knew I could get down with the help of a rope, so I went to the nearest cottage and borrowed a rope and was then able to climb down the tree and return home.”  (do you hear how silly this is?  How could he go and get a rope if he can’t climb down the tree in the first place, right?)

When the prince heard this ridiculous story he did not make a comment but merely stood and waited for the next story to begin. The three brothers were quite surprised but were sure that the prince would not believe this second story. And so the second brother began his tale:

“That day when my brother hid from us I was searching for him in the forest. I saw something run into the bushes and thinking it was my brother I ran in after it. When I got into the bushes I saw that it was not my brother but a huge hungry tiger. He opened his mouth to devour me and I jumped inside and crawled into his belly before he could chew me up. When inside I started jumping up and down and making loud, fierce noises. The beast did not know what was happening and became so frightened that he spit me out with such force that I traveled several hundred feet through the air and landed back in the middle of our village. And so though I was but a young lad I saved our whole village from the fearful tiger, because never again did the beast come near our village.”

After this story the prince once again made no comment. He merely asked that the third story begin. The three brothers were quite upset by this and as the last brother began his tale he had quite a frown upon his face. But he was still quite determined to make up a story so absurd that the prince could not this time help but doubt its truthfulness. And so he began his tale:

“One day as I was walking along the banks of the river I saw that all the fishermen seemed quite unhappy. I inquired as to why they seemed so sad, whereupon they informed me that they had not caught one fish in a week and their families were going hungry as a result. I told them I would try and help them. So I dove into the water and was immediately transformed into a fish. I swam around until I saw the source of the problem. A giant fish had eaten all the smaller fish and was himself avoiding the fishermen’s nets. When this giant saw me, he came toward me and was about to devour me, but I changed back to human form and slashed the fish open with my sword. All the fish inside his belly were then able to escape.

Many swam right into the waiting nets. And when I returned to shore, many of them were so grateful for my help, that they followed me and jumped onto the shore as I landed there.  The fishermen were overjoyed at suh

When I returned to shore many of the fish were so grateful to me,that they decided to come back with me. When the fishermen saw all these fish jumping onto shore after me they were indeed pleased and rewarded me abundantly.”

When this story was finished the prince did not doubt a word of it. The three brothers were quite upset, but at least they knew that they would not doubt the words of the prince. And so the prince began his tale:

“I am a prince of great wealth and property. I am on the road in search of three slaves who have escaped from me. I have searched high and low for them as they were very valuable property. I was about to give up the search when I met you three fellows. But now my search is ended because I have found my missing slaves, because you gentlemen are they.”

When the brothers heard these words they were shocked. If they agreed to the prince’s story then they were admitting that they were his slaves, but if they doubted what he said then they lost the bet and became his slaves anyway. The brothers were so upset by the cleverness of the prince that they said not a word. The passer-by who was judging the contest nevertheless declared that the prince had won the wager.

The prince did not make slaves of these men but instead allowed them to return to their village with the promise that they would never tell tall tales again. And the three brothers were thereafter known throughout the land for their honesty and truthfulness.

So, I don’t think I would have to make a promise not to tell tall tales –BUT, of course the difference between those three brothers and storytellers like you and I who tell stories, including tall tales, is – well what do you think the difference is?  I mean it surely isn’t dishonest to tell made up stories, right?

Yes, of course, the important difference between the three brothers and storytellers is that we storytellers never pretend that our story really happened – we are not trying to trick our listeners into believing us.  So maybe the souvenir of this story is simply – don’t ever try to trick people by telling tall tales and pretending they are true.

Having said all of that, it can be great fun to try and make up some tall tales of your own – why not give that a try and see how silly and ridiculous and funny you can be.  Have fun.

Cheerio then join me next time for Journey with Story.

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