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The Paper Tiger February 23, 2010

Posted by Fiona in Literature, Small things.

This is a story I was told when I was little – I think I read it, actually, and then told it to my little sister on one of the numerous, albeit less frequent these days, times when I’d sit in her room and tell her a story.

Unlike most of the stories I used to tell her, which tended to be Anglo-Saxon or occasionally Scandinavian in origin (I had a wonderful book of them, that was falling apart, and I’ve no idea what happened to it but I loved it), this story is, I think, Chinese.

It’s about a little girl whose birthday it is, and for her birthday her daddy gives her a parasol.  She really loves this parasol, and insists on opening and closing it in all the places in the house that anyone else particularly wants to be in, so after a while of this somebody suggests that she go for a walk in the jungle with her parasol.  I suppose, if one has a jungle nearby, that seems the obvious thing to do in it, especially if one has such a lovely brand-spanking-new parasol with which to walk.

So off the little girl goes with her parasol over her shoulder, and she skips about a bit, and carefully inspects some of the brightly coloured flowers and leaves, and shows her new parasol to some of the wildlife – who don’t seem that impressed, it must be said – and generally charges through the undergrowth for a bit.  And as she gets deeper and deeper into the jungle, she spots a flash of orange and stops dead in her tracks.

There is a tiger, a few yards ahead of her, blocking the path.  The little girl, being quite a resourceful little girl really and not one prone to panic, thinks crikey! he’s seen me!  What am I going to do?  And, having such a snazzy parasol about her person (lucky, that) she decides that the best thing she can do is hide behind it, and hope that the tiger won’t be able to see her any more.  So she gets her parasol out very quickly, and she crouches behind it, and she closes her eyes, and she holds her breath.

And she keeps holding it.  And then she lets it out, and listens very carefully, and then opens one eye, and then the other.  And after another minute or two, she peeks out from behind the parasol, and to her surprise, the tiger has gone!  So she grins widely, and dances a little bit to break the tension, does her parasol back up and legs it home as fast as she can.

When she gets home, she goes to her daddy and tells him all about the tiger, and how it had disappeared, and how she had no idea where it went.

‘Silly girl!’ says her daddy, fondly, ‘have you not looked at your parasol properly?’  And the little girl opens the parasol up, and then goes round to the other side and looks at it properly from the outside, and nearly jumps out of her skin because painted on the top of the parasol is a rather gloriously fierce dragon.

D’you know, there’s something to be said about a simple, clever story where ultimately, nobody gets hurt.

And now I really ought to stop procrastinating this essay.  There was a point to that, when I drafted it yesterday, but I can’t remember what it was, so it’s just going to be a drive-by storytelling now.  (I know the tiger wasn’t paper, by the way, but I found out yesterday that ‘paper tiger’ is an actual expression for something that looks dangerous but really isn’t.  I kind of like it.)  And now I shall return to Jim Moray and corporate manslaughter.  Yay.



1. luciainfurs - February 23, 2010

This story was a little shiny bit in today’s library-a-thon. Thankyou

2. annadegenhardt - February 23, 2010

I love little stories like that 🙂

3. Flix - February 23, 2010


4. Jenny - March 1, 2010

Thank you 😀 that was a real cheer-up when I most needed one.

Also: Jim Moray. :D. I know him 😛 (well, kinda – I have at least met him more than once).

Fiona - March 1, 2010

What?! Envy. Is he as attractive in person? (There’s always hoping…)

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