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Friday, July 23, 2021

Wiggin - The Moon-Cake - Keeping the Public in Public Domain

We've lately been seeing citizen space efforts (as opposed to national), although it has been by billionaires like Richard Branson last week and this week Jeff Bezos. Of course we're a long way from truly making something like this affordable to the average citizen, but it's interesting these came right before or during the same week as National Moon Day. Yes, there are many days of national celebration or remembrance, but this reminds us on July 20, 1969 Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first people to walk on the moon. 

July is probably the easiest time to send a rocket into space, but it's interesting to have all these efforts at space travel take place so close together.  Kate Douglas Wiggin and Nora Archibald Smith in Tales of Laughter , published back in 1908, produced a short tale easily done showing the phases of the moon.  It also can give you a sweet treat of a cookie or cupcake if you tell it as if you're the big kid in the story. It's definitely a Trickster Tale.  After the story I will add a few more things if you want to tie it in to the moon. 


The Moon-Cake 

A little boy had a cake that a big boy coveted. Designing to get the cake without making the little boy cry so loud as to attract his mother’s attention, the big boy remarked that the cake would be prettier if it were more like the moon. The little boy thought that a cake like the moon must be desirable, and on being assured by the big boy that he had made many such, he handed over his cake for manipulation. The big boy took out a mouthful, leaving a crescent with jagged edge. The little boy was not pleased by the change, and began to whimper; whereupon the big boy pacified him by saying that he would make the cake into a half-moon. So he nibbled off the horns of the crescent, and gnawed the edge smooth; but when the half-moon was made, the little boy perceived that there was hardly any cake left, and he again began to snivel. The big boy again diverted him by telling him that, if he did not like so small a moon, he should have one that was just the size of the real orb. He then took the cake, and explained that, just before the new moon is seen, the old moon disappears. Then he swallowed the rest of the cake and ran off, leaving the little boy waiting for the new moon. 

Told you it was a Trickster Tale!  (It's very much like the tales of deceptive divisions whether by an "umpire" settling the unevenness between two claiming the food OR more directly by the trickster and the one with the food.)

Now no fooling, there's a lot online about the moon, so much so each of these links can end with "and more."  The illustration above is from Time and Date, which has articles explaining the moon phases and also various names for the full moons and more.

The Earth’s Moon page on is a pretty amazing site.  Spin it, light it, or peek at the moon's core. The page also offers links to misconceptions about the moon, pop culture, exploration, galleries, even how to take good pictures of the moon, and more. 

Skywatchers Guide to the Moon: Use their moon map to identify features on the moon. Learn what the light and dark areas are and what created the craters. Find out where the astronauts landed and discover what actually fills the moon's famous "seas". There are links to additional activities including subjects such as moon phases, eclipses, craters, and more.  It comes from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory at California Institute of Technology for their Night Sky Network.

International Observe the Moon Night” (InOMN) is celebrated by StarNet, Night Sky Network and Sky & Telescope and has been held annually since 2010 on Oct 20th.  Watch their YouTube webinar and their slides for programming ideas, find links to customizable event flyers, hands-on activities, and more

I'll stop there even though, when it comes to the moon there are plenty of stories and more . . . don't want you calling me a lunatic. 


This is part of a series of postings of stories under the category, "Keeping the Public in Public Domain."  The idea behind Public Domain was to preserve our cultural heritage after the authors and their immediate heirs were compensated.  I feel strongly current copyright law delays this intent on works of the 20th century.  My own library of folklore includes so many books within the Public Domain I decided to share stories from them.  I hope you enjoy discovering new stories.  

At the same time, my own involvement in storytelling regularly creates projects requiring research as part of my sharing stories with an audience.  Whenever that research needs to be shown here, the publishing of Public Domain stories will not occur that week.  This is a return to my regular posting of a research project here.  (Don't worry, this isn't dry research, my research is always geared towards future storytelling to an audience.)  Response has convinced me that "Keeping the Public in Public Domain" should continue along with my other postings as often as I can manage it.
Other Public Domain story resources I recommend-
  • There are many online resources for Public Domain stories, maybe none for folklore is as ambitious as fellow storyteller, Yoel Perez's database, Yashpeh, the International Folktales Collection.  I have long recommended it and continue to do so.  He has loaded Stith Thompson's Motif Index into his server as a database so you can search the whole 6 volumes for whatever word or expression you like by pressing one key.
  • You may have noticed I'm no longer certain Dr. Perez has the largest database, although his offering the Motif Index certainly qualifies for those of us seeking specific types of stories.  There's another site, FairyTalez claiming to be the largest, with "over 2000 fairy tales, folktales, and fables" and they are "fully optimized for phones, tablets, and PCs", free and presented without ads.

    Between those two sites, there is much for story-lovers, but as they say in infomercials, "Wait, there's more!"
The email list for storytellers, Storytell, discussed Online Story Sources and came up with these additional suggestions:            
         - David K. Brown -
         - Richard Martin -
         - Spirit of Trees -
         - Story-Lovers - is now only accessible through the Wayback Machine, described below, but the late Jackie Baldwin's wonderful site lives on there, fully searchable manually (the Google search doesn't work), at .  It's not easy, but go to snapshot for October 22 2016  and you can click on SOS: Searching Out Stories to scroll down through the many story topics and click on the story topic that interests you.
       - World of Tales - 
           - Zalka Csenge Virag - doesn't give the actual stories, but her recommendations, working her way through each country on a continent, give excellent ideas for finding new books and stories to love and tell.
You're going to find many of the links on these sites have gone down, BUT go to the Internet Archive Wayback Machine to find some of these old links.  Tim's site, for example, is so huge probably updating it would be a full-time job.  In the case of Story-Lovers, it's great that Jackie Baldwin set it up to stay online as long as it did after she could no longer maintain it.  Possibly searches maintained it.  Unfortunately Storytell list member, Papa Joe is on both Tim Sheppard's site and Story-Lovers, but he no longer maintains his old Papa Joe's Traveling Storytelling Show website and his Library (something you want to see!) is now only on the Wayback Machine.  It took some patience working back through claims of snapshots but finally in December of 2006 it appears!
    Somebody as of this writing whose stories can still be found by his website is the late Chuck Larkin -  I prefer to list these sites by their complete address so they can be found by the Wayback Machine, a.k.a., when that becomes the only way to find them.
You can see why I recommend these to you. Have fun discovering even more stories!

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