Journey With Story


Journey With Story

Weighing the Elephant | Bonus Episode


Solve a Riddle with this Fun Folktale. When an Emperor receives the gift of an elephant, he wants to know how he can weigh this unusual beast, but no one knows how to do such a task, until….his young son comes up with a clever plan.   (duration 5 minutes)  A bonus episode from Journey with Story, a storytelling podcast for kids.

Full Transcript

April 28 2020 Bonus Episode 



What is the most unusual gift anyone has ever given you?   Maybe it was a puppy or a special signed baseball bat or a bike or a necklace. 


Hello everyone. I ‘m Kathleen Pelley – welcome to another bonus episode of JWS.  In these discombobulating times, stories are a great way to spread cheer and calm and comfort and can help connect us to one another….Today’s tale is a story from China and it is all about a powerful emperor who  – on his birthday – receives a very special gift indeed – an elephant. 


Oh, and this special bonus episode is dedicated to ……Alexander and his little sister, Sophie who live in Singapore and have just started listening to this podcast.  Hello Alexander and Sophie – this story is especially for both of you – enjoy….. 


Let’s take a Journey with… 


Weighing the Elephant ~  


Long ago in a far off land, there lived a powerful emperor. Every year on his birthday, the important people in the royal court attempted to outdo one another by giving the Emperor the most outrageous present. Every year the Emperor received sparkling jewelry, glistering gold, colorful cloth, and exotic animals from faraway lands. One birthday, a courtier presented the largest and most extraordinary creature anyone in the land had ever seen  – an elephant all the way from India.  


Never had anyone seen anything like it- it was all anyone at court could talk about.   

“This elephant is bigger than a water buffalo!” said one courtier. 


“Are you kidding?” said a second.  “It’s bigger than a rhino!”  


“You must be joking,” said a third. “This elephant is bigger than TWO rhinos!” 


One day the Emperor told his royal court, “I want to know how much this amazing elephant weighs. Who can tell me how to weigh it?” 


“I can!” said one of his counselors, who used to be a merchant.  “We will just put it on a scale.” 


“Not likely,” said the Emperor.  “There is no scale that could hold the weight of an elephant without breaking.” 


“I can tell you!” said the second counselor, who used to be a tailor.  He said, “We will measure the elephant.” 

“No,” said the Emperor with a sigh.  “Even if you measured all the different parts of an elephant, you would still not know how much it weighs.” 


“I can tell you!” said the third counselor, who used to be a baker.  “We will cut up the elephant and cook it.  Then we will know.” 


“We will surely NOT do that!” roared the Emperor. “Is there NO ONE who can tell me how to weigh the elephant?” 


Then a small voice said, “I can.” 

All eyes turned to the voice.  It was the Emperor’s son! 


Son!” said the Emperor. “You should be in bed.” 


 “But I know how,” said the boy.  “And we won’t need to cook it first.” 


“Very well,” said the Emperor with a smile.  “Tell me how to weigh the elephant.” 

The boy described what to do.  



Here is what the boy said.  “You put the elephant in a big boat and take the boat out on the water.  Draw a line on the side of the boat where it meets the water, at the watermark.  Then bring the boat back to shore and take the elephant off the boat.  Put rocks on the boat, one by one.  When the boat sinks to the same watermark line it had when the elephant was in it, bring the boat to shore again. Take out the rocks and weigh them, one by one. That is how you can tell how much the elephant weighs!” 


“Wonderful! Wonderful!” shouted everyone. 

“It will work!” called out the first counselor. 

“What a clever plan!” said the second.   

“Who knew this child would know?” said the third.   

And from that day forward the fame of Emperor’s son traveled far and wide to ever corner of the world. 


So, that little boy was certainly very very clever – wasn’t he.  Do you know the names of any other big animals?  Yes, that’s right, bears, ostriches, giraffes – but the biggest of all is …..Yes, it is the Blue WHALE?  I bet this story must have painted some pictures in your imagination as you listened  – do send me your pictures  get your mum or dad to take a photo of them and send me them in an email – 


And remember – all will be well, all will be well, and all manner of things shall be well. 


Cheerio Alexander and  Sophie – cheerio everyone  – join me next time for JWS.

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