The young shrimp

The young shrimp

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A young shrimp thought: “Why does everybody walk behind, in my family? I want to learn how to walk forward!”. He started training secretly, among the rocks in the canal. Obviously, it took a lot of effort during the first days and the little shrimp often hurt himself, because he hit all the rocks that were around. But step by step he improved, because you can do everything, if you want to.

When he was self confident enough, he approached his family and said: “Look at me!”, and beautifully ran forward. His mother started shouting: “Son! What happened to you? DId you get mad? Don’t be silly, and walk the way we taught you, like your dear brothers do”. His father was even more severe, and said: “That’s enough! If you want to stay with us, walk like all the other shrimps, behind. However, if you want to behave in another way, you can go away, and never come back. The canal is big, after all”. The good shrimp really loved his family, but he did not want to renounce what he had just learned, nor to be slave of habits. So, he hugged his mother, waved to his brothers and left. 

Frogs, crabs and birds were really surprised by his gait, and they would often make fun of him. But the young shrimp kept walking forward along his way. At a certain point he met a very old shrimp, which looked extremely sad and sat by himself next to a rock. “Good morning!”, said the young one. The old mate observed him carefully, for a long time, and then replied: “What are you trying to do? When I was young, I was like you, I thought I could teach shrimps how to walk forward. And that’s what happened afterwards: I live completely alone and nobody wants to talk to me. Listen to me, before it’s too late: act like everybody else, and one day you will thank me for the advice”.

The young shrimp did not know what to answer and remained silent. He was a bit worried about what the old shrimp had told him, yet he thought he had done the right thing by trying something new. He was also sure that he would find other friends, who would not judge him just for his different way of walking. So, he said farewell to the old shrimp and bravely went on his own way.

[Original version: Il giovane gambero in GIANNI RODARI, Favole al telefono, Einaudi Ragazzi, Torino, 1995, pp. 55-56.]

Tags: shrimp; courage; judgement.

Question: What is the message of the fable, in your opinion?

  1. You should not walk forward
  2. It is necessary to leave your parents when you are mature
  3. It is important to believe in yourself and do not care too much about people that laugh at you

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