Like HowStuffWorks on Facebook!

Tortoise, Hare, and the Sweet Potatoes

        | HSW

Hare filled his cup with water from Tortoise's pond.
Hare filled his cup with water from Tortoise's pond.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

As long as anyone remembered, Hare always had been a shady character, forever up to no good. He spent his days telling riddles no one could answer and playing pranks on the other animals in the forest. And each night Hare thought of more new riddles and tricks he could play.

"I am the number one trickster," Hare said with a grin. "No one is more clever than me."

Tortoise, unlike Hare, was a kind-hearted creature. Each morning, she rose with the sun and happily began her daily chore of cleaning her teeny-weeny pond. She took pride in her housekeeping skills and kept the pond in tip-top shape, just in case a weary traveler ever needed a cool drink.

So Tortoise was not surprised when Hare dropped by one unusually hot autumn day. But being a friend of most forest creatures, Tortoise had heard of Hare's bad reputation. As Hare filled his cup with water, Tortoise thought, "Hare may be a swindler, but he won't fool me. I will never fall for his trickery."

All afternoon Hare tried his best to trick Tortoise. He told her his most difficult riddles, and she easily answered them. "This is harder than I imagined," Hare thought, so he tried something new.

"Miss Tortoise, please join me for lunch today," Hare asked sweetly.

"Mister Hare, we're nowhere near your home," Tortoise said, "and I have nothing in my cupboard."

"No problem," said Hare. "I know a field full of sweet potatoes ready for harvest. Let's go there."

They pulled up potatoes until their sack was full.
They pulled up potatoes until their sack was full.
©2007 Publications International, Ltd.

Tortoise knew the field belonged to a mean old farmer. She did not care for the farmer, but she still thought stealing was wrong. She told Hare she would not go with him. But soon, her stomach began to grumble and growl. When Hare asked her again, she agreed, but with her own plan in mind.

Within minutes, they stepped into a giant sweet-potato patch. They pulled up sweet potatoes until their sack was full, then they built a fire and roasted the potatoes.

To find out what Tortoise is planning, go to the next page.

For more children's stories and activities, check out:


More to Explore