Teeny-Tiny and the Witch-Woman is a story written by Barbara K. Walker based on an old Turkish folk tale. The story was first published in 1975 by Pantheon Booksand an animated short based on the story was produced by Weston Woods in 1980.
The story is about three brothers who live in a Turkish village with their mother and grandmother. The brothers are Big One (The eldest brother), In-the-Middle (The middle brother), and Teeny-Tiny (The youngest brother). The two older brothers often mock Teeny-Tiny because of his size and that he is the youngest. The brothers play in and around the village every day. Their mother warns them to never go into the forest, where, according to their grandmother, lives a "Witch-Woman" who eats little children and uses their bones to build a fence around her house.
One day, Big One decides that it might be fun to go play in the woods. In The Middle agrees with Big One and they ask Teeny-Tiny if he'd like to join them. Teeny-Tiny declines his brothers' offer and reminds them of their grandmother's story. Big One and In The Middle both ignore Teeny-Tiny's warnings and decide to go anyway. Reluctant, Teeny-Tiny follows his brothers, but keeps "his eyes open and his legs ready to run".
The boys spend all afternoon playing in the woods and soon it starts to get fairly dark, and the three become lost and hungry. Searching for a way out of the woods, Teeny-Tiny climbs a tree and spots a light in the distance. He and his brothers make their way towards the source—a cottage owned by a kindly old woman. She offers them food and shelter for the night, and promises to lead them out of the woods the next morning. Big One and In-The Middle heartily accept the woman's hospitality. Teeny-Tiny is less enthusiastic but relents.
After the boys finish their supper, the old woman shows them upstairs to her spare bedroom. Big One and In-the-Middle both fall asleep right away, but Teeny-Tiny, uneasy, stays awake. Looking out of the bedroom window, he notices knobby white fence surrounding the house and realises it is made of human bones. Suddenly, Teeny-Tiny hears what sounds like somebody sharpening a knife. The Witch-Woman comes up the stairs calling out to the boys to see "who is awake and who is asleep".
To the witch-woman's query, Teeny-Tiny replies that "the littlest one is awake." Aware of the old woman's motives, Teeny-Tiny makes up a series of bedtime rituals to stall for time. While the witch-woman prepares to fetch some water in a sieve for Teeny-Tiny, she places three magical items, a bar of soap, a sewing needle, and aknife on a high shelf. Teeny-Tiny takes this opportunity to wake up his brothers and inform them of the old woman's true identity. The three brothers sneak into the kitchen and climb up on each other's shoulders to steal the objects from the high shelf before flying from the cottage. Still engrossed in her futile chore, the witch-woman looks up, sees the boys running away, and makes chase.
Pursued, Teeny-Tiny uses the magical items they had pilfered earlier. The first item he uses is the soap, which creates a mountain of foam which the witch-woman is forced to run around. Teeny-Tiny then drops the sewing needle, which creates a mountain of sewing needles which the witch-woman runs into. Undaunted, the witch-woman continues pursuing the brothers and begins to catch up. Desperate, Teeny-Tiny throws the knife over his shoulder. The knife splits the earth and creates a ravine so long and wide that the witch-woman can neither run around it or jump over it. Defeated, she angrily proclaims that she will get them next time as she begins her long walk back to her cottage. Teeny-Tiny and his brothers continue to run until they safely make it back to their village. They are then greeted by their mother, who is happy to see them safe and sound. As for the witch-woman, she waits inside her cottage for a long time, until she hears a knock at her door again.
Short Film Adaptation
An animated short based on Barbara K. Walker's book was created by Weston Woods Studios in 1980. The short is a retelling of the thrilling story featuring frightening and sometimes amusing imagery. The short was first released on 16mm film for use in schools and libraries. This short has also been featured on a number of collections of other scary stories such as the Children's Circle video series and some holiday collections by Scholastic Books. The short was directed by veteran Weston Woods Studios director, Gene Deitch.
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This ghost story can be scary at times. The Witch Woman can be the most horrifying characters as Michael Foreman can illustrate.
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