When our summer fun began, I thought we were going to sit down and re-write modern or alternate versions of Beowulf. However, since it is a poem meant to be spoken or sung, the kids opted to do something similar. So, after I finished reading Beowulf out loud, the kids stood up and improvised 5-10 minute “versions” of the Beowulf story. They really seemed to enjoy this, dancing around and singing as they invented their animal-inspired tales. Rather than video-taping them, I sat with my computer on my lap and transcribed their tales as they went along. Here are accurate transcripts of the results.
Frank Oogenheim, The Adventurer – A Version of Beowulf
As spoken by B and transcribed by Mama
Once there was an old bear ruler of Greenland, called Oz, and he built this awesome den where he rocked out and did rock concerts with his friends called Sprinkle House. But, there was an icecap near Sprinkle House where an evil evil evil sabre tooth tiger named Knife-eater lived. He liked the happiness in Sprinkle House but he wanted their marshmallows and they wouldn’t give him marshmallows. So he decided that he would throw their green apples at them. It went on for 17 banana years. Bears would tell songs about it. They would say, “oopa loopa green apple throwing at you.” And, then, in land across the sea – Canada, in Nunavut – the prince Bear, named Oogenheim, heard of this. He knew the ruler Oz was in great danger from all of his green apples being stolen and not being able to eat them. And, he knew also that Oz had helped his father fight off invaders from British Columbia called the Ooegenshnutz. So, Oogenheim sailed over the sea in an air zeppelin and went on the ground.
A Greenland bear asked him what he was doing there. He replied, “I am here to help your king Oz defeat the green-apple-throwing sabre tooth tiger. So, I am here to help Sprinkle House regain their green apples.” [And, by the way, nobody dies in this story]. So Oz welcomed Oogenheim to the court. He said, “if you can fight off the Sabre Tooth Tiger, you can be my son and I will give you riches, blah blah blah.” The night came and they all departed except for Frank and his followers, Toobalooba, Handprintonthewall, and Owlonabendytree. And when the night came, the tiger crept up on Toobalooba’s bed, but Frank jumped in front and went “Rah, you will not destroy my friend, tiger!” and threw green apples at the tiger and threw the tiger out the window and into the lake. And, he was never coming back again. And Oz was very happy that this was rid of. So, the next day, Frank got riches and went, “Oh yeah, I have some gold.” Then, there was a song sung about “Gold in my pocket:” “Oh yeah, I have some gold in my pocket, gold in my pocket…”
But the next night, the wooly mammoth mother of the sabre tooth tiger wreaked havoc and threw clementine oranges at Owlontheleaningtree, but Frank leapt in front of her and took off one of her tusks and stabbed it in her tail. And, she ran away in horror to the ice glades of Greenland never to return again. Then the next day, King Oz sang a song called “Thank you very much, now leave!”
Then they went back to their homeland and discovered their King had died of old age. Frank became ruler and ruled for 20 years. But then, he took a band of his best soldiers to destroy a robot who was commanding a horde of umbrellas. It was important because they had no protection from the rain and they were all starving and wet and they couldn’t take baths because the lakes had overflowed. Frank finally found the robot and he was dissecting the robot, but then it squeezed oil on him and the oil contained posion and he fell to the ground. Unfortunately, all of his soldiers had run away but one called “Toomanyhumans.” TMH took the robot and stabbed it in the arm and dissected it into pieces and stopped the robot from hording the umbrellas of Cambridge. Then, Oogenheim was taken to the mongrel-doctor, who buried him because the oil spasms were too much for him. And he died of old age and oil poisoning. But now they had rain protection! And he said to TMH before he died, “Please fight the Oogenschnutz and, here, be a wise ruler …Protect our little town of Cambridge of warriors…You are my son…” Then, they buried him and went around singing chants, singing “He’s dead, he’s dead, he’s done, he’s done! Oh no! British Columbia will attack us again!” But TMH said, “No!,I will protect you.” THE END.
Bob, the Turtle Hero – a version of Beowulf
as spoken by T and transcribed by Mama
Once upon a time, there was a turtle. But, in the other land that the turtle didn’t live in, called Crinkle, there was a bad monster who was coming along and killing people. And then the turtle came along to save the day! The turtle’s name was Bob. Bob takes a boat to their land and then this weird turtle at the shore says, “Who goes there? Who are you?” Then Bob says, “I’m Bob, with my trusty companions.” Then, Bob goes off into the castle and goes like this, “King, I will save your life by killing that dumb monster. OK?”
So forth, the turtle stayed awake that night practicing his swordsmanship and then that night the monster came in and Bob said, “Oh. ****!” Then, the monster came along, thirsty, to Bob’s friend and tried to eat him, but Bob came along and broke his head off with his bare hands. Then, he was walking along with no head and then he whacked Bob in the face and Bob’s like, “Can you stop doing that ****-move?” And then Bob comes along and punches him in the face… but he can’t really do that cuz his head is off. So, he broke his body in half and he hung all his body parts on the wall.
Next night, the king gave him gold and they had a celebration. But then, the monster’s mother comes and has four legs and tries to kick the king’s butt. And, then Bob charges at the mother but the mother kicks him and he goes flying. Then Bob comes along with a power punch and punches her and then she falls into the fiery water pit where she lived.
Ten years later, Bob hears of a dragon that was killing everything. So he goes over there with his friends and goes into the cave to try to kill the dragon because the dragon burns his house down, see. Then, he brings his worst ****-sword and tries to slice him. But the sword breaks. Then, his steel shield falls into the dragon’s mouth and the dragon eats it. Then, one of his friends stabs the dragon in the head with the sword. And they live happily ever after. **** The End!
The **** are “bad words” that Tobes didn’t actually utter. Instead, he said, “mmmm.”
Here are links to our Beowulf posts:
Summer Books: The Beowulf Notebooks One; Kid-Illustrated Definitions I: Utopia & Dystopia; The Beowulf Notebooks, Two; Story Cards & Story Telling Games; The Beowulf Notebooks, Three