Eenie, Minie, Moe … Epaninandus, Epaminondas, Epandimimus

e2Calvin and Hobbes is one of my favorite cartoons. This particular strip reminded my of a favorite story from when I was a kid. Thank goodness for Google! though the story stuck with me, only I remembered a garbled version of the bumbling little protagonist’s name, thinking it was Epandimimus.

Well, a search for THAT name didn’t retrieve the saga so I tried ae1 combination of key words I recalled from the little boy’s tribulations, and finally the combination of the words “story boy mother sent butter hat” struck gold and and I found a couple versions of the tale. The first is a well-spun rendition as told by Grandpa H (or Merlin Hiaring), who has little Epaminandus setting off to visit his grandma, and tripping his way back home in series of comic mishaps, complete with an Amelia Bedelia-like twist at the end. One reason the story is so memorable, I guess, is with or without illustrations it’s replete with the mental images that kids love, including my favorite scene, the one with the melted butter*.

A little more digging and I found another version of the tale, along with wonderful other stories and great vintage images. harking back to 1905, by a Sara Cone Bryant Borst. Now, as a note to parents, Sara’s version follows a slightly grim twist, like you might find in the Brothers Grimm tales. You might want to use the slightly less morbid spin on the puppy dog’s fate from Grandpa H’s rendition. However, the portal where I found the Sara Cone Bryant book is a truly a lovely site. I recommend lovers of children’s literature and parents, grandfolks, uncles or aunties to visit Kellscraft Studio and peruse their many free online books.Considering how awful “fairy tales” once were, one might be led to believe our word “grim” came from the above mentioned brothers. For example from Handsel and Gretel, the mother (!) says, “I’ll tell you what, husband,…Early to-morrow morning we will take the children out into the forest to where it is the thickest, there we will light a fire for them, and give each of them one more piece of bread more, and then we will go to our work and leave them alone. They will not find the way home again, and we shall be rid of them.” How sad! But fortunately, even back in the early 1800’s, these story tellers started cleaning up the stories and making them more fit for bedtime fare. A well designed site by National Geographic gives some insight into Grimm fairy tales and delivers up actual stories with a great graphic presentation.


*Speaking of melted butter, what is it about melted butter in kid’s stories? There’s Little Black Sambo, the story of an Indian boy who made his debut in 1899 in a children’s book by the Scottish Helen Bannerman, who lived in India. Sambo is the proud owner of new clothes, including a green umbrella, a lovely little pair of purple shoes with crimson soles and crimson linings, which he has to fork over to a band of hungry tigers. Now at one point in the story, these famished tigers get “very, very angry, but still they would not let go of each others’ tails. And they were so angry that they ran round the tree, trying to eat each other up, and they ran faster and faster till they were whirling round so fast that you couldn’t see their legs at all. And they still ran faster and faster and faster, till they all just melted away, and then there was nothing left but a great big pool of melted butter (or “ghi” as it is called in India) round the foot of the tree.”

There are a lot of beautifully illustrated versions of Little Black Sambo on Amazon and other sources. The original illustrated version that I remember is Bannerman’s ,with elegant drawings by Florence White Williams, and the first image below is from that book. The book cover on the far right has some clever tiger claw marks that give it extra panache. Incidentally, since Sambo became a racially derogatory term later, a new edition features The Story of Little Babaji, using a more typical Indian name (last image).



Published in: on March 14, 2008 at 8:40 pm  Comments (4)  

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4 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. My husband is desperately on the hunt for a copy of the original or “hard bound” tale of Epaminandus. There were so few happy memories for him as an adopted child that I thought I may try, with the tinniest amount of information I have gathered, to find it for his forty-ninth birthday on 10/20.
    I don’t even know if I am barking up the correct tree!
    If anyone has acquired anymore solid, or even not so solid information about the whereabouts of a copy, I would appreciate a heads up!~
    Thank you for your time!

  2. Any help would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks to All!

  3. Dear Diana,

    Here is a link to where you can buy the book on Amazon:

    I think my spelling confusion from my childhood memories may have rubbed off. I only had the correct spelling of the book in my blog entry title, but did also find an online narration of the story at:

    My reply may be too late for hubby’s birthday this year but perhaps for a holiday gift?

  4. I have an original hardback copy of this book. I think I have put it in a special place, but will look for it if youare still interested!

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