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Dwelling Candy Dwelling | Ep. 251

There’s an old African proverb that goes: “Even the lion, the king of the forest, protects himself against flies.”

In other words: no matter how big and mighty we are, we should never underestimate the strength and skill of those who are smaller. Because as we’ll hear in today’s tale, sometimes the smallest can be the strongest of all!

Kicking off Circle Round’s eighth season is a story called “Home Sweet Home.” Versions of this tale come from parts of East Africa.

We recorded this episode before a live audience of excited kids and grown-ups at The Parkway Theater in San Francisco, CA. Joining host Rebecca Sheir on stage was a trio of actors: Joy Dolo, Adelin Phelps and Aron Woldeslassie. And playing live music on the goblet-shaped African drum known as the djembe (read more below) was Eric Shimelonis.

This episode was adapted for Circle Round by Rebecca Sheir. It was edited by Dean Russell. Original music and sound design is by Eric Shimelonis. Our artist is Sabina Hahn.

A leopard and a hare in black and white. (Sabina Hahn for WBUR)
(Sabina Hahn for WBUR)

GROWN-UPS! PRINT THIS so everyone can color while listening. We’re also keeping an album so please share your picture on Facebook and Instagram, and tag it with #CircleRoundPodcast. To access all the coloring pages for past episodes click HERE. Our resident artist is Sabina Hahn and you can learn more about her HERE.

Now It’s Your Turn

A fun way that you can work and move together as a team is by doing a scavenger hunt!

One really fun scavenger hunt idea is called “My Favorite Things.”

Teaming up with family members or friends, create a list that will help each of you find things you enjoy.

Your list may include: “something that makes me laugh,” “something I’m thankful for,” “something I like to hold” or “something given to me by someone I love.”

Venture around your home or yard and track down as many items as you can. Then as a team, take turns showing – and sharing – what you’ve found.

Musical Spotlight: Djembe

Mali’s Bambara people say the name of the djembe (pictured here played by Eric Shimelonis) comes from the saying "Anke djé, anke bé": "everyone gather together in peace.” (Courtesy of Rebecca Sheir)
Mali’s Bambara people say the name of the djembe (pictured here played by Eric Shimelonis) comes from the saying “Anke djé, anke bé”: “everyone gather together in peace.” (Courtesy of Rebecca Sheir)

The goblet-shaped drum known as the djembe is one of Africa’s best-known instruments. Historians believe it dates back 400 to 800 years. Traditionally you carve the djembe from a single piece of African hardwood, then stretch animal skin over the top as a drumhead and play it with your hands.

It’s been said the djembe contains multiple spirits: (1) the tree from which it was made, (2) the spirit of the animal whose skin created the drumhead, and (3) the spirits of the woodcutter, carver and people who assembled the drum!

You can also hear Eric Shiomelonis playing the djembe in another live Circle Round episode: “The Bird of a Different Feather.”


NARRATOR: Of all the animals who lived on the wide open grasslands known as the savanna, one of the fiercest and most ferocious… was Leopard. The wild spotted feline was always growling…

LEOPARD: (growl!)

NARRATOR: …snarling…

LEOPARD: (snarl!)

NARRATOR: …hissing…

LEOPARD: (hiss!)

NARRATOR: …and otherwise scaring the pants off of the smaller animals who called the savanna home.

LEOPARD: (to Narrator) I’m sorry. I know we just started this story, but “scaring the pants off of the smaller animals”…? You DO know that animals don’t wear pants, right?

NARRATOR: (to Leopard) Of course, Leopard! That was a figure of speech. What I meant was… you make the smaller animals’ hair stand on end.

LEOPARD: But what if they don’t HAVE hair? What if they have feathers? Or scales?

NARRATOR: Sooooo… you make them quake in their boots!

LEOPARD: Are you saying animals wear BOOTS now…?

NARRATOR: Okay, Leopard. Look. What I’m trying to say is… the smaller animals find you really intimidating, alright? Vicious! Mean!

LEOPARD: (audience should think she’s offended) Oh. (beat) (brightening) Well thank you for the compliment!

NARRATOR: You’re welcome…?

Anyway… Early one day, Leopard was skulking across the plains, doing her usual growling, snarling and hissing, when she happened to come across the wild rabbit known… as Hare.

Hare’s fuzzy head was tucked in his fuzzy paws as he napped beneath a tree. But the moment his pointy ears picked up the sound of someone approaching, he sprang to his feet.

HARE: Who’s there??? (beat) Oh! Leopard! (nervous) How are ya?

LEOPARD: How am I? I am HUNGRY, if you must know! I was beginning to wonder what I’d eat for breakfast, and a little rabbit like you would hit the spot!

NARRATOR: Leopard was right. Hare was “a little rabbit”… but only in size and strength. When it came to cunning and cleverness, Hare towered over everyone. And as he stared into Leopard’s hungry yellow eyes, his cunning, clever mind began to race!

HARE: Ya know, Leopard… I was thinking. Instead of eating me, how about if you let me help you?

LEOPARD: With what?

HARE: With something even better than eating breakfast! How about if I help you… with building a house????

LEOPARD: Building a house??? Why would I want to build a house?

NARRATOR: It was a fair question. After all, the animals of the savanna all lived outside, in burrows, dens, and nests. They most definitely did not live in houses!

But Hare was tired of all that. The crafty critter was ready to settle down and start a family. And a nice, cozy house would be the perfect place to do it. Especially if he could get a bigger, stronger creature like Leopard to help him build it!

HARE: Look, Leopard. A majestic creature like you shouldn’t be sleeping without a roof over her head. Think of all the burning sun during the dry season! All the endless rain during the wet season! Not to mention all the NOISE! I know how sensitive your ears can be.

NARRATOR: It was true. Leopard’s ears WERE sensitive. In fact, it’s been said that leopards can hear five times better than humans can! So think about YOUR hearing, multiply it by five, and you’ll have an idea of how keen Leopard’s ears were.

HARE: So, Leopard?? Whaddya say? (beat) Can I help you build a house?

NARRATOR: Leopard was quiet for a moment. Then she twitched her whiskers and gave her spotted head a nod.

LEOPARD: Alright, Hare. You can help me build a house. (beat) What do we do first?

HARE: Well, first we collect a whole bunch of branches and tie them together with vines; those will be the walls. Then we gather grasses and reeds and thatch them together to make the roof. And that’s it! All we have to do is roll up our sleeves and get to work!

LEOPARD: (not getting the figurative language again) But – I’m not wearing any sleeves! 

HARE: What I mean is… we’ll put our noses to the grindstone!!!

LEOPARD: (ditto) What’s a grindstone???? And what if it SMELLS bad?

HARE: You know what, Leopard? Never mind! Let’s just get started.

NARRATOR: So, they did. Leopard used her powerful claws and jaws to carry thick branches and yank down vines…

LEOPARD: (ad-lib action)

NARRATOR: …while Hare hopped around snatching up tufts of grass and clusters of reeds.

HARE: (ad-lib action)

NARRATOR: And by nightfall, the house was finished.

HARE: We did it, Leopard! We built a house! (beat) Now we just need to put up… the wall!

LEOPARD: The wall??? (beat) We already put up FOUR walls! Why do we need ANOTHER one?

HARE: To separate the house into rooms, of course! One room for YOU… and one room for ME!

NARRATOR: Leopard blinked her bright yellow eyes.

LEOPARD: Hang on there, Hare! Since when do YOU get a room? You offered to help me build MY house.

HARE: On the contrary, Leopard. I offered to help you build “A house.” (to Narrator) Can we maybe REWIND? And listen to that part again?

NARRATOR: Well… it’s a live show, but I don’t see why not! Let’s rewind!

HARE: (with same emphasis/inflection as earlier) So, Leopard? Whaddya say? Can I help you build a house?

LEOPARD: (with same emphasis/inflection as earlier) Alright, Hare. You can help me build a house.

HARE: HA! Did you hear that, Leopard??? You told me I could help you build“A house.” And I DID. And now we SHARE it!

LEOPARD: (sigh) Fine. We’ll share the house. (beat) But you’d better be a good roommate.

HARE: Ah, don’t you worry, Leopard. I won’t do anything to ruffle your feathers.

LEOPARD: Since when do I have feathers????

HARE: What I mean is, I won’t do anything to get your goat.

LEOPARD: I don’t have a goat, either!

NARRATOR: (helpfully cutting in) I think what Hare is trying to say, Leopard… is that he promises he’ll be a good roommate.

HARE: Exactly! But only if YOU promise to be a good roommate too, Leopard. (beat) In other words…don’t even think about EATING me! If we’re going to live together, I can’t wind up on your menu. (beat) Do we have a deal?

LEOPARD: Sure. We have a deal. (beat) But you’d best follow through on your part of the bargain, Hare. Otherwise, mark my words. (dramatic, inadvertently bungling) I am going to get your feathers and RUFFLE YOUR GOAT!!!

NARRATOR: What do you think will happen once our unlikely roommates move in? Will it really be home sweet home?

We’ll find out, after a quick break.


NARRATOR: I’m Rebecca Sheir and welcome back to Circle Round, live at The Parkway Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota! Today our story is called “Home Sweet Home.”

Before the break, clever Hare and fierce Leopard built a house. They put up a wall in the middle, then Leopard went to her side, and Hare went to his.

But before long, Hare wasn’t the only one on his side of the house. The quick, clever critter fell in love with another hare who was even quicker and cleverer than he was. She moved in, and the happy couple soon had their first baby bunny.

HARE’S WIFE: Look, honey. He has your eyes!

NARRATOR: They then had another baby bunny…

HARE: She has your nose!

NARRATOR: …and another…

HARE’S WIFE: He has your ears!

NARRATOR: …and another! 

HARE: She has your whiskers!

NARRATOR: Pretty soon, Hare and his wife had a whole bunch of baby bunnies. And as you can probably guess, a whole bunch of baby bunnies can make a whole bunch… of NOISE!

And on the other side of the dividing wall, sharp-eared Leopard could hear EVERYTHING, all day long.


NARRATOR: It was better once the bunnies fell asleep each night, but even then: Leopard’s keen ears were still ringing. So as you can imagine, it wasn’t long before she was ready to blow a fuse.

LEOPARD: (to the Narrator) I’m sorry. Blow a WHAT? What’s a “FUSE”?

NARRATOR: It’s another figure of speech, Leopard. What I meant was, you’re ready to flip your lid.

LEOPARD: I don’t HAVE a lid!

NARRATOR: You’re about to go through the roof…?

LEOPARD: But I have a perfectly good DOOR! Why would I want to go through the ROOF?

NARRATOR: The point is, you’re ANNOYED, right?

LEOPARD: (to Narrator) Absolutely! I can’t get any peace and quiet with those rambunctious rabbits carrying on like that! (beat) (to audience; back in the story) I know I promised Hare that I wouldn’t EAT him… but I never promised that I wouldn’t eat his BUNNIES! Perhaps I’ll start picking them off one by one. They’d make a most delightful snack!

NARRATOR: Meanwhile, on the other side of the house, Hare and his wife were sensing Leopard’s growing unease.

HARE: Sweetheart, I can’t help but worry about Leopard.

HARE’S WIFE: Me too! She’s always been a grumpy and grouchy sort, but these days she’s grumpier and grouchier than ever!

HARE: Right? I fear it’s just a matter of time before that testy cat loses her temper and snatches one of our bunnies! How do we keep them safe?

HARE’S WIFE: Well…it just so happens I have an idea. But I’ll need your help. So listen up!

NARRATOR: Hare’s wife leaned in and whispered her plan into her husband’s pointy ear. And the next morning, after their boisterous bunnies bounced out of bed, Hare and his wife told their children to pretend… to CRY!

NARRATOR: All the wailing, whimpering and sobbing made more of a racket than ever. And on the other side of the wall, Leopard was in more of a tizzy than ever!

LEOPARD: Ugggh! Why can’t those bunnies keep quiet??? I must put a stop to this nonsense once and for all… and finally treat myself to a well-deserved bunny buffet!

NARRATOR: But just as Leopard was about to smash through the wall and help herself… she heard the voices of Hare and his wife.

HARE: (talking extra-loud so Leopard will hear; laying it on extra thick) Children! CHILDREN!

HARE’S WIFE: (talking extra-loud so Leopard will hear; laying it on extra thick) Please quiet down and listen! (they quiet down) Thank you. (beat) My darling dears. I know you were crying because you are HUNGRY. But don’t you worry. Your father will go out today and get you more food!

HARE: That’s right! I know how much you loved that ELEPHANT MEAT I brought home the other day! So I’ll go out and HUNT another ELEPHANT!

NARRATOR: On the other side of the wall, Leopard’s whiskers began to tremble.

LEOPARD: (fearful) Elephant???? That scrawny little Hare is mighty enough to hunt an ELEPHANT?? So he can feed it to his children???? He must be more fierce than I realized!

NARRATOR: Leopard spent the next few days stepping extra softly, so as not to irk the elephant hunter in the next room.

However, her enormous appetite soon made her forgetful. And just when she began to think that NOW she would fill her belly with bunnies, what should she hear through the wall… But MORE crying!

HARE: (talking extra-loud so Leopard will hear; laying it on extra thick) Children! Children!

HARE’S WIFE: (talking extra-loud so Leopard will hear; laying it on extra thick) Please quiet down and pay attention! (they quiet down) Thank you. (beat) Your father and I know you’re HUNGRY – AGAIN. But I’m sure we still have some LION MEAT lying around.


HARE: Actually, no! It’s been a few days since I hunted that lion and we’re all out.

HARE’S WIFE: Oh… How about cheetah then?

LEOPARD: Cheetah??!!!???

HARE: No more cheetah either!


LEOPARD: Hyena??!!!???

HARE: Oh come on. That scrawny canine barely lasted us a day!

HARE’S WIFE: Well in that case, you’ll have to hunt something new, sweetie!

HARE: Like what?

HARE’S WIFE: Well… the kids were just telling me how much they’ve been wanting to try something ELSE.

HARE: Really! And what’s that?

HARE’S WIFE: They’d like to try… LEOPARD. 


HARE: Oh! That settles it then! I’ll get them some LEOPARD. Back in a flash!

NARRATOR: Across the dividing wall, a shiver shook Leopard’s body from head to tail.

LEOPARD: Oh dear me. If Hare can easily hunt elephants and lions and cheetahs and hyenas… he could certainly make short work of a leopard!!!! I’d better get out of here!

NARRATOR: Without wasting a beat, she took to her paws, burst out of the house, and raced across the savanna, running as fast and as far as her spotted legs could carry her.

Hare and his wife figured there was no way they would ever see that fraidy cat again. But then… about a week later… after the couple tucked their bunnies into bed, they heard two voices approaching the house. One voice belonged to Baboon.

BABOON: So… is this the place?

NARRATOR: The other voice belonged… to Leopard!

LEOPARD: This is the place alright! The house I helped build with my own four paws.

BABOON: And that’s why you have every right to live here, Leopard! (beat) So go ahead. Move back in.

LEOPARD: But Baboon! What about Hare? He’s a mighty, ferocious hunter!

BABOON: So you told me. But think about it. There’s no way that pointy-eared runt could possibly hunt an elephant… or a lion… or a cheetah… or a hyena! So how could he lay a finger on YOU???

LEOPARD: Wait – so hares have FINGERS now?

NARRATOR: Figure of speech, Leopard! Figure of speech!

LEOPARD: Oh! Right. (not entirely convinced; hesitant; still freaked out) I guess you DO make a good point, Baboon. Hare IS pretty puny. So yes! I’ll just march in there, reclaim what’s mine, then devour those hares for dinner!

BABOON: That’s the spirit!

NARRATOR: Inside the house, Hare and his wife exchanged a look. They knew they had to think fast. So… they did.

HARE: (talking extra-loud so Leopard will hear; laying it on extra thick) My dearest wife! Leopard will be here any moment! Isn’t that right?

HARE’S WIFE: (talking extra-loud so Leopard will hear; laying it on extra thick) He SHOULD be here any moment, darling! After all, I convinced BABOON to TRICK Leopard into coming back! We’ll just have to wait and see whether that silly cat falls for the trick.

HARE: (talking extra-loud so Leopard will hear; laying it on extra thick) If she DOES fall for it, then boy oh boy! Our children will be so happy!

HARE’S WIFE: (talking extra-loud so Leopard will hear; laying it on extra thick) You bet they will! After all, they’ll finally have that leopard meat they’ve been craving! They’ve been pining for it for days!

NARRATOR: Leopard froze. Her eyes grew wide. Then she let out a yelp…


NARRATOR: …and sprinted away, her spotted body a blur as she hightailed it across the savannah.

This time, she never came back.

Eventually, Hare and his family outgrew the house. But when it came time to build a bigger one, they didn’t rely on some bigger animal to help. Instead, the happy family rolled up their sleeves, put their noses to the grindstone, and worked together to create a place they could truly call home sweet home.

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