“Dear children, be on your guard against the wolf. If he comes in, he will devour you—skin, hair, and all.” When mother goat leaves with such a warning, you can only worry for the seven little goats…
The Wolf and the Seven Little Goats is a Brothers Grimm fairy tale. A mother goat leaves her seven little goats to fetch food, warning them for the big bad wolf. However he tricks and eats them all, except the youngest one. Mother goat comes back in time to rescue them from the wolf, who ends up drowning.
Mother goat goes to the forest
Once upon a time there was an old goat who had seven little goats. She loved them with all the love of a mother for her children.
One day she wanted to go into the forest and fetch some food. She called all seven little goats to her and said, “Dear children, I have to go into the forest, be on your guard against the wolf; if he comes in, he will devour you—skin, hair, and all. He often disguises himself, but you will know him at once by his rough voice and his black feet.”
The kids said, “Dear mother, we will take good care of ourselves; don’t worry.” The old goat bleated and went on her way.
The wolf tries repeatedly to get in
It was not long before some one knocked at the house-door and called, “Open the door, dear children; your mother is here, and has brought something back with her for each of you.”
However the little goats knew that it was the wolf because of his rough voice. “We will not open the door,” they shouted, “you are not our mother. She has a soft, pleasant voice. Your voice is rough; you are the wolf!”
The wolf went away to a shopkeeper and bought himself a great lump of chalk, ate this and made his voice soft with it. He came back, knocked at the door of the house, and shouted, “Open the door, dear children, your mother is here and has brought something back with her for each of you.”
But the wolf had laid his black paws against the window, and the children saw them and cried, “We will not open the door, our mother has not black feet like you; you are the wolf.”
The wolf ran to a baker and said, “I have hurt my feet, rub some dough over them for me.”
When the baker had rubbed his feet over, he ran to the miller and said, “Strew some white meal over my feet for me.”
The miller thought to himself, “The wolf wants to deceive someone,” and refused; but the wolf said, “If you don’t do it, I will eat you.” The miller was afraid, and made his paws white for him. (Isn’t that what all people would do?)
For the third time the wolf went to the house-door, knocked and said, “Open the door for me, children, your dear little mother has come home, and has brought every one of you something back from the forest with her.”
The little goats cried, “First show us your paws that we may know if you are our dear little mother.” Then he put his paws in through the window, and when they saw that they were white, they believed that all he said was true, and opened the door.
The wolf eats the little goats
There stood the wolf! They were terrified and wanted to hide themselves.
One sprang under the table,
the second into the bed,
the third into the stove,
the fourth into the kitchen,
the fifth into the cupboard,
the sixth under the washing-bowl,
and the seventh into the clock-case.
But the wolf found them all, and quickly and easily swallowed them down his throat. The youngest, who was in the clock-case, was the only one he did not find.
When the wolf had satisfied his appetite he took himself off, laid himself down under a tree in the green meadow outside, and began to sleep.
Mother goat returns home
Soon afterwards the old goat came home again from the forest. Ah! What a sight she saw there! The house-door stood wide open. The table, chairs, and benches were thrown down, the washing-bowl lay broken to pieces, and the quilts and pillows were pulled off the bed.
She sought her children, but they were nowhere to be found. She called them one after another by name, but no one answered. At last, when she came to the youngest, a soft voice cried, “Dear mother, I am in the clock-case.”
She took the kid out, and it told her that the wolf had come and had eaten all the others. You can imagine how she wept over her poor children.
At last she went out, and the youngest goat ran with her. When they came to the meadow, there lay the wolf by the tree and snored so loud that the branches shook. She looked at him on every side and saw that something was moving and struggling in his gorged belly.
“Ah, heavens,” said she, “is it possible that my poor little goats whom he has swallowed down for his supper can be still alive?”
Mother goat rescues the little goats
Then the youngest goat had to run home and fetch scissors and a needle and thread. The goat cut open the monster’s stomach, and hardly had she make one cut, than one little kid thrust its head out, and when she cut farther, all six sprang out one after another. They were all still alive, and had suffered no injury at all, because in his greediness the wolf had swallowed them down whole.
They were so happy! They embraced their dear mother, and jumped around like crazy. The mother said, “Now go and look for some big stones, and we will fill the wicked beast’s stomach with them while he is still asleep.”
The seven kids dragged the stones to her with all speed, and put as many of them into his stomach as they could get in. Mother goat sewed him up again as fast as she could, so that he was not aware of anything and never once stirred.
The end of the wolf
When the wolf at length had had his sleep out, he got on his legs, and as the stones in his stomach made him very thirsty, he wanted to go to a well to drink. But when he began to walk and move about, the stones in his stomach knocked against each other and rattled. He cried,
“What rumbles and tumbles
Against my poor bones?
I thought ’t was six little goats,
But it’s naught but big stones.”
And when he got to the well and stooped over the water and was just about to drink, the heavy stones made him fall in. There was no help and he drowned miserably.
When the seven little goats saw that, they came running to the spot and shouted happily, “The wolf is dead! The wolf is dead!”. They danced for joy around the well with their mother.
Tips for Telling
- Stories thrive on contrasts. A big contrast in this fairy tale is between the innocent playful little goats and the big bad wolf. The bigger you make this contrast in your telling, the more tension you create. For example: tell about the nice games the little goats do when their mother is away and tell about the sharp teeth and claws of the wolf.
- If you tell this story to children, be aware of their reaction, some children can be really scared of the wolf. Which is exactly the reason why he needs to die at the end of the story, because otherwise he lives on in their imagination.
- Instead of telling about their voices, let your listeners hear the difference between the voice of mother goat and the voice of the wolf. Be sure to practice it beforehand.
All Questions Answered
It was written down by the Brothers Grimm. They collected it from the Hassenpflug family but also knew other older versions. It is the 5th story in their book ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales’.
The Brothers Grimm collected this story and wrote this complete version down in 1812 in their book ‘Grimm’s Fairy Tales’. This story was told long before it was written down.
Be careful because the wolf wants to trick you. However your mother will rescue you and keep you safe.