The Girl Who Turned Into A Dragon

The Girl Who Turned Into A Dragon

Chapter 1
There was once a girl who turned into a dragon.
Her name was Ping and she lived in China, a very long time ago.
I don’t know what your name is, or which country you’re in, but I’m pretty certain a lot of you live in the here and now.
For most of my life I’ve lived in the here and now, but, like many other people, I’ve also spent a lot of my days elsewhere and in other times.
And just like me, Ping sometimes wondered what it would be like to not be human. What might she be if she was something else?
A butterfly?
Too soppy.
A fish one moment, an otter the next?
Too complicated.
A tiger in the morning, maybe a T Rex in the afternoon?
Ha! Impress your friends and scare your enemies.
A dragon?
Sounded awesome.
Ping imagined being a dragon for a day, the weekend, or even until Monday, to frighten the living daylights out of the moneylender.
That would be cool.
A week, tops.
Except …
It hadn’t turned out quite the way she’d imagined.
Unfortunately, she was now going to be a dragon for ever, and ever, and ever.
And it was all her mother’s fault.

Chapter 2
Ping’s mother never told bedtime stories. It’s not that she didn’t like them, it’s just that she had trouble remembering how they ended. She’d say there was enough to get on with during the day without worrying about something else last thing at night.
And recently, she’d certainly been right about that. For the past year had been a year like no other. Not a single drop of rain had fallen. Hot sun shone on bare earth. The rice crop failed. People were hungry. Babies wailed.
But one night, as they lay in bed listening to their growling bellies, they became aware of a deep rumbling outside.
Suddenly, the ground trembled. The house shook. Flashes of lightning lit the room. Cracks of thunder filled the sky. A great storm seemed about to explode above their little house.
But instead of heavy rain beating down upon their rusty tin roof, something fell to earth with a whistling sound, followed by the flapping of huge wings and a roar fading away into the dark sky.
And then, silence.
Not daring to leave the room. They held each other tight and waited until morning to see what had happened outside.

Chapter 3
As the new day dawned, the sun wore a scowl. Nervously, Ping peered out of the window, expecting to see devastation all around. But there were no fallen trees, damaged buildings, or craters gouged into the ground. To her surprise, tall grasses were growing on what had been bare, dry earth the day before.
Such good fortune!
The couple joyfully rushed outside and quickly cut the crop to sell at market. Farmers gladly bought the hay to feed their livestock. The lucky couple spent their unexpected windfall on rice and tea.
That night they slept with tummies full, not waking once.
But when they looked out of the window the next morning. Surprise, surprise! Tall grasses were growing again. Even thicker and greener than before.
Once more, they hastily harvested the hay. As the pair cut the grasses with their scythes, they sang old songs, sweating beneath the sun. While the mother tied the grass into bundles to carry to market, Ping sat upon a stone staring at the dry earth. She wondered how such lush grass could grow in this harsh heat.
Just then, something caught her eye. Something small and glowing, half buried in the earth. She picked it up. It felt warm, like a newly laid egg. She wiped the dust from the round object. It was the colour of jade and the size of a large marble. But it wasn’t made of glass. It felt solid and as tough as iron. Curiously, it was vibrating gently every few moments, like the feel of a purring cat.
Ping called out excitedly,
“Mother, quickly. Come and see. I’ve found a magic ball.”

Chapter 4
“What have you got there?”, asked her mother.
“I think it’s what fell from the sky the other night, when the house shook, and the wind roared.”
Her mother took the jade object from her daughter. She turned it round and round. She felt it throbbing and then … she remembered.
A story. A story she’d heard as a child. Something about a dragon who left a gift to a poor family. A dragon’s pearl! The little jade ball was a dragon’s pearl!
As she stared at the jade pearl, she tried to piece the story together. It was all a jumble, like bits of a jigsaw puzzle in a box. People were suffering. One night a dragon flew from the mountains. In the morning, a small jade ball was found. Things got better. The dragon’s pearl could bring good luck but it could also bring misfortune. Hazily she recalled there was one thing you should never do with the pearl, and if you did it, the consequences could never be undone. What on earth could it be?
That was the trouble with stories. Some were simple but others were too complicated. And it’s true. Some stories are easy to understand and remember, but some take a little bit more effort. And sometimes, the forgotten parts linger deep inside your mind, like a submerged crocodile, ready to bite you when you least expect. Pah! She couldn’t be doing with them.
Irritably she said, “You found it, you look after it.”
She thrust the pearl back into her daughter’s hand, saying,
“Put it in your pocket. Let’s hurry to market and sell the hay without delay.”
That evening, after another satisfying meal, Ping felt the dragon’s pearl vibrate and then jump from her pocket and fall to the floor. She quickly grabbed it and said,
“I don’t want to lose this. Where can I keep it safe?”
Her mother was still trying to remember all of the story and absentmindedly replied,
“Keep it in the rice jar. That’s the best place for it.”
And how true that was. For next morning, the jar that had been half empty the night before, was now full to the brim.
“The dragon’s pearl is magic!” exclaimed Ping.

Chapter 5
The dragon’s pearl was magical indeed. Not only was the jar full of rice, but grass had regrown outside.
Now they knew they wouldn’t go hungry. With the money they made from selling the hay, and the rice jar always magically topped up, they had more than enough to eat and plenty to spare.
And so, they began to help their neighbours.
Each evening, they’d stand on their doorstep and call out,
“Bring your empty bellies and bowls. We’ll fill them with our good fortune.”
Many hungry people came to take advantage of the couples’ kindness.
Gratefully they received the rice and thanked them graciously.
When asked why they were able to be so generous, Ping replied,
“It’s because we have been given some luck. We’re sure that if you had such luck you’d share it with your neighbours.”
Well, you might share your luck with me, and I might share my luck with you, but unfortunately, there were two greedy guts in the village who wouldn’t even share a smile, unless we paid them.

Chapter 6
Two brothers sat silently eating the best meal they’d had in months. They chewed each mouthful, ruminating over, and over, and over,
‘Why don’t we have good fortune? Why do they have the luck? Where does the luck come from? Why don’t we have it? Why should they have it?’
And when the last grain of rice was swallowed, they looked at each other, and one brother said,
“We’ll find their luck and take it.”
And the second agreed,
“We’ll steal it tonight, when they’re fast asleep.”

Chapter 7
That night, they stole into the house while the mother and daughter slept. By the light of the moon through the window they looked for luck in the bucket. They searched for luck in the cooking pot. They looked under the rug, up in the rafters, under the bowls and behind the broom. But they were very unlucky looking for luck.
Luck finally eluded them for good when one of the brothers knocked over a stool. When it crashed to the ground, the sleepers awoke.
The bedroom door burst open and Ping confronted the intruders,
“Get out of our house!”
“We’ll leave when we’ve got what we’ve come for,” shouted one of the robbers.
“What do you want from us?” asked the mother.
“We want your luck,” the other brother responded.
“Our luck?” said the mother.
“Yes. Give it to us and we’ll leave.”
“Don’t you realise that our luck is your luck too. Our luck can feed you and everyone in the village too,” reasoned Ping.
“Stop arguing. Tell us where it is.”
“No, we won’t tell you where it is,” warned the mother.
The intruders started to upturn the furniture.
“No, we won’t tell you our luck is on the bamboo shelf by the window,” said Ping.
As the robbers rushed to the shelf, Ping dashed to the rice jar by the door. She lifted the lid and thrust her hand deep into the rice and pulled out the dragon’s pearl.
Triumphantly, she held out the jade pearl towards the dumbfounded brothers and teased,
“If you want it, come and get it.”
But before they could lift a foot, Ping laughed, poked out her tongue, popped the pearl into her mouth, and swallowed it down.
“Noooooooo!” yelled the robbers.
“Aagggghhh!” gasped Ping.
It was at that moment, Ping’s mother remembered the parts of the old story she’d forgotten and now knew why you should never swallow a dragon’s pearl.
“Noooooooo!” she screamed.
But it was too late.
Before her eyes she watched her daughter transform from a girl into a beast.

Chapter 8
Ping gasped and choked. Water began to stream from her eyes, shoot from her ears, gush from her nose and spurt from her mouth. Her clothes ripped; her nose grew. Instead of skin, she had scales. She turned around and saw a tail. Her arms were now wings. She flapped, then flew to the ceiling. She crashed and fell.
The robbers fled through the door. The mother rushed to her daughter floundering on the floor,
“Oh, my dear. I’m so sorry. I should have warned you never to swallow a dragon’s pearl. For if you do, you’ll become a dragon forever. Oh, why didn’t I remember!”
Ping tried to speak to her mother but the sounds she made were grunts and groans. She tried to cough up the pearl. She retched to make herself sick. But now the pearl was deep inside her and there it would remain.
“Oh, my little Ping. What kind of mother am I? To not tell stories to my own daughter. I’ll never forgive myself.”
All of the commotion had woken the neighbours. As they came out of their houses they pointed to the sky.
“Look. Dragons!”
And sure enough, flying from the mountains of the east were hundreds of dragons. With each beat of their wings, clouds formed. With each roar from above, winds whipped up. With each swish of their tails, rain fell.
The villagers felt the first raindrops in a year fall upon their upturned faces. They stood open mouthed and drank the raindrops. They splashed in puddles and whooped with joy.
“The water dragons have saved us all. The drought is over. The rains have come at last.”
As the dragons circled overhead beating their wings to conjure more rain, Ping flew out of the house, followed by her distressed mother.
The little dragon perched in a windblown tree, gripping with clawed feet.
FLASH! She looked look down at her mother. CRACK! She looked at the villagers frolicking in the waters. BOOM! She looked up at the dragons in the electric sky.
The flying serpents descended like giant arrows towards the tree then zoomed aster and faster around it. Ping lost her footing and was whipped up into the air by a whirlwind.
“Help,” she was crying in her mind. But what came out of her snout was, “Yearrghhh!”
A voice boomed in the vortex,
“You must leave now. Come with us to the mountains of the east.”
“No,” she tried to say, even though it came out as a roar.
“No, I want to stay here with my mother.”
“You can’t. You are no longer a girl. You are one of us. You are not a human being. You will be a dragon forever.”
“But I don’t want to be a dragon for the rest of my life. Can’t I just be one for the day, the weekend, or even until Monday, to frighten the moneylender?
“Certainly not. Anyone who swallows a dragon’s pearl has sealed their fate.”
“But I didn’t know that.”
“Blame those who do not pass on the old stories. Hurry, we have brought the rain to your village. Our work is done. Bid your mother farewell.”
Released from the whirlwind, Ping flew down to the village, and hovered above her mother. With every flap of a wing to say goodbye, she rose jerkily up towards the clouds.
The villagers below, watched her wave one last time and then turn to join the mighty dragons as they flew slowly towards the mountains of the east.

Chapter 9
Wow! What an ending. What do you think of that turn of events? Did you see it coming or was it a total surprise? Sorry if you’re upset by it but that’s the way it goes. It certainly wasn’t what Ping expected to happen. If only her mother had remembered all of the details of the old story it would have ended with a full rice jar every day and both living happily ever after.
It goes to show. You can never take stories for granted. Those that fear being forgotten have a way of biting back.
I hope this encourages you to listen to and read as many stories as possible and then pass them on. This keeps them happy and healthy. A fish needs to swim, a dragon needs to fly, and a story needs to be shared.
Speaking of which, did I tell you about the time I turned into a …?

© Clive PiG

Sally Is A Dancer

Night Network on London Weekend Television with Grae J Wall

Sally Is A Dancer a cappella

Sally is a dancer and she’s always on the move
She is so dedicated, she hasn’t even got a minute
I have to grab her when I can – make love there and then
She says you’ve got to be single minded if you want to get anywhere.

Sally is a dancer and she’s often in the air
It’s hard to pin her down but I don’t mind, I don’t care
Just to be around her that’s enough for me
She’s a human dynamo, I bounce off that energy

When she dances, I’m electrified
The way she moves through space
Doth the laws of gravity defy

When she dances, I can’t but gasp
The shapes she makes with such style and grace
Would make a contortionist blush

Sally is a dancer and she’s always on the phone
Or else she’s waiting for a call herself
‘though it’s odd to find her at home
She’s likely to be out to lunch
Busy with rehearsals, classes and engagements
Auditions for a West End show
But she’s better than that you know because …

When she dances I am hypnotised
She’s the fox, I’m the rabbit
I’ll be bitten if I don’t watch it

When she dances I’m rooted to the spot
It’s hard to tell if she’s a girl
A spirit, the wind, or what?!?

When she dances, I’m electrified
The way she moves through space
Doth the laws of gravity defy

When she dances, I can’t but gasp
The shapes she makes with such style and grace
Would make a contortionist blush.
© Clive PiG


Clive PiG’s Shenanigans for April 2020

The Train To Turin

Press to play The Train to Turin

Performed by Clive PiG & Karen Thwaite

Story from illustrated paperback book  Jurrassic Cove & other Jolly Japes.

Signed copies available at


If you have enjoyed this story, please visit the World Storytelling Café where you will see a full 45-minute set from me as well as performances from other fabulous tellers.

The site operates on a pay-what-you-can-afford basis. Storytelling is my livelihood, if you can afford to make a donation (via the button) it would be very much appreciated, if you can’t, I understand. Please listen and enjoy!  []


Listen to my rejigged version here:

PRESS ⇒Teeny Tiny

Once upon a time there was a teeny-tiny woman lived in a teeny-tiny house in a teeny-tiny village. Now, one day this teeny-tiny woman put on her teeny-tiny bonnet, and went out of her teeny-tiny house to take a teeny-tiny walk. And when this teeny-tiny woman had gone a teeny- tiny way she came to a teeny-tiny gate; so the teeny-tiny woman opened the teeny-tiny gate, and went into a teeny-tiny churchyard. And when this teeny-tiny woman had got into the teeny-tiny churchyard, she saw a teeny-tiny bone on a teeny-tiny grave, and the teeny-tiny woman said to her teeny-tiny self, “This teeny-tiny bone will make me some teeny- tiny soup for my teeny-tiny supper.” So the teeny-tiny woman put the teeny-tiny bone into her teeny-tiny pocket, and went home to her teeny-tiny house.

Now when the teeny-tiny woman got home to her teeny-tiny house she was a teeny-tiny bit tired; so she went up her teeny-tiny stairs to her teeny-tiny bed, and put the teeny-tiny bone into a teeny-tiny cupboard. And when this teeny-tiny woman had been to sleep a teeny- tiny time, she was awakened by a teeny-tiny voice from the teeny-tiny cupboard, which said:

“Give me my bone!”

And this teeny-tiny woman was a teeny-tiny frightened, so she hid her teeny-tiny head under the teeny-tiny clothes and went to sleep again. And when she had been to sleep again a teeny-tiny time, the teeny-tiny voice again cried out from the teeny-tiny cupboard a teeny-tiny louder, “Give me my bone!”

This made the teeny-tiny woman a teeny-tiny more frightened, so she hid her teeny-tiny head a teeny-tiny further under the teeny-tiny clothes. And when the teeny-tiny woman had been to sleep again a teeny-tiny time, the teeny-tiny voice from the teeny-tiny cupboard said again a teeny-tiny louder,

“Give me my bone!”

And this teeny-tiny woman was a teeny-tiny bit more frightened, but she put her teeny-tiny head out of the teeny-tiny clothes, and said in her loudest teeny-tiny voice, “TAKE IT!”

If you have enjoyed this story, please visit the World Storytelling Café where you will see a full 45-minute set from me as well as performances from other fabulous tellers.

The site operates on a pay-what-you-can-afford basis. Storytelling is my livelihood, if you can afford to make a donation (via the button) it would be very much appreciated, if you can’t, I understand.  Please listen and enjoy!  []


Notes: Contains 43 English folktales.

Author: Joseph Jacobs
Published: 1892
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, London


The Buzzard Man  –  an original tale from Dartmoor, UK, by Clive PiG

Call me a liar if you want to, though don’t expect me to believe you, but there was once a poor farmer’s wife who had a lazy old bag of bones for a husband. Every morning it was the same old story. While she was hustling and bustling around the farmyard, he’d be fast asleep in bed. His snores shook the house until the pots and pans toppled out of the cupboards and the pictures fell off the walls.

The only way to wake him was to empty a bucket of water over his head. Then the wife would stuff him into his clothes and kick him down the stairs. It was all he could do to gobble down his porridge before he was shoved out of the door to tumble head over heels down the garden path. When he came to a stop, he’d look around at all the work needing to be done on the farm. He’d sigh and shrug his shoulders, lie down by the rhubarb patch and go to sleep until suppertime.

The cows were never milked or the eggs collected, the seeds were never sown or the crops harvested, unless it was by the poor old wife. The husband only lifted a finger to pick his nose or to scratch his bum. That was how it had been for years. But from today, things would be very different around the farm.

The day started very strangely indeed. The wife milked the chickens and collected the eggs from the cows. She was in such a tizzy that when she came into the house she pushed the husband out of the door with a sharper shove than ever. By the time he’d tumbled to a stop he was so battered and bruised he couldn’t lie down. It was then he looked up and saw a large buzzard circling above.

The husband shouted up to it,

“ Lucky you, drifting about in the airy-fairy sky up there! You don’t know what it’s like to be a human, tramping on the hard earth and having a scold for a wife. It’s a simple life being a bird. All you do is flap your wings about a bit, then glide around taking it easy. You should come down here and find out what it’s like to be a man who walks until his legs don’t work and toils until his arms drop off.”

Well, with that, the buzzard swooped down, perched on the fence post next to him and said,

“All right, let’s swap places.”

“How are we going to do that?” asked the man, scratching his head.

“Easy,” replied the buzzard, “you give me your clothes, then you can have my feathers.”

“What! Just like that?” said the man.

“Yes, just like that!” said the bird.

And so, the man became a buzzard and the buzzard became a man.

“How do I find my food?” asked the buzzard who had been a man.

“Oh, it’s easy,” said the man who had been a buzzard. “When you’re up in the sky looking down from on high, you’ll be able to see the scent of a dead creature rising from its carcass. Buzzards can see much better than humans. To their eyes, the smell rises like a kind of smoke. If it’s a small creature, like a dead mouse, the smoke seems pink and wispy.”

“I don’t like mice,” said the buzzard who had been a man.

“If it’s a dead rabbit, the smoke is grey and light.”

“I don’t mind rabbit,” he replied.

“If it’s a dead deer, the smoke is black and strong.”

“I do like deer,” the other smiled.

The buzzard who had been a man flapped his wings and flew up into the sky, and the man who had been a buzzard walked indoors to the wife.

He gave her a big hug and told the wife to sit down while he made her a cup of tea. Well, you can imagine, she nearly dropped dead with shock at that, and then she had to pick herself up off the floor after he told her he was going to be busy for the rest of the day.

He tidied up the farmyard and the vegetable garden, putting all the brambles and rubbish into a big heap. Then he called to the wife to show her all the work he had done. She watched as he struck a match and set fire to the pile. As the bonfire blazed, a great spiral of black smoke rose up.

Suddenly, a buzzard swooped down through the smoke, plunged into the fire and was burnt to a cinder.

The wife gasped, “Did you see that big bird drop into the bonfire? What was it thinking of?”

“What a birdbrain,” said the man who had been a buzzard.  “You go indoors and put your feet up while I finish off here.”

A few weeks later, when the wife went to the market, a neighbour came up to her and said:

“What’s got into your husband? Everybody’s talking about him. He’s changed.”

“What do you mean?” enquired the wife.

“Well, he’s become hardworking and very polite to everyone nowadays it’s true, but …”

“But what?” asked the wife.

“Haven’t you noticed?” said her neighbour. “When he thinks no-one’s watching, he starts rubbing his shoulders with his nose as if he’s preening himself. And what about those little feathers stuck to his clothes?

And what about his nose? It’s not the same one he had before. Now it’s hooked and beaky. And he’s got a strange smell to him. How can you put up with it?

I was walking past your place the other day and I saw him trying to balance on a fence post. Last night, my Tom saw him up on your roof by the chimney pot making strange noises and flapping his arms about as if he was trying to fly!

People are talking. They say he’s not the man he was. He’s acting like a bird. He’s not a proper human. They say your husband is a Buzzard Man!”

“You hold your tongue,” said the wife. “I’d rather have someone who works hard and cares for me, than live with that lazy old bag of bones I had before. I don’t care if he is a Buzzard Man. I like him just the way he is.”

And with that she stomped away to buy a couple of rabbits from the butcher’s stall. She put them in her basket and made her way back home to prepare the supper.

That evening they sat at the kitchen table enjoying their meal. Her stew was delicious – rabbit braised in red wine with apricots and shallots. But her husband didn’t like fussy food. He ate his meat red and raw, tearing it apart with his bare hands and washed down with a mug of dirty water.

And as far as I know, unless you can tell me otherwise, they both lived very happily ever after.

And if you believe that story, I hope you live happily ever after.

And if you don’t believe that story, I hope you live happily ever after.

Illustrations by Chris Brooks

If you have enjoyed this story, please visit the World Storytelling Café   []

where you will see a full 45-minute set from me as well as performances from other fabulous tellers.

The site operates on a pay-what-you-can-afford basis. Storytelling is my livelihood, if you can afford to make a donation (via the button) it would be very much appreciated, if you can’t I understand, please listen and enjoy!

The Buzzard Man is featured in Unicorn in the Playground

available @