You are using an outdated browser. For a faster, safer browsing experience, upgrade for free today.

Raven and the Star Fruit Tree

Published January 10, 2009
Countries: Vietnam
Age Levels: 8 and up

Once upon a time, two sons were left a fortune by their parents.  The elder brother was very greedy and claimed the house, most of the land the land and all of the money left by the parents.  He had everything he needed and wanted.

The younger brother had only a small piece of land and a tiny home.  On his land there was a single star fruit tree.  The fruit of the tree was quite sour to eat.  Despite the sour tasting fruit, the younger brother watered the tree, fertilized it and trimmed it so that it produced large amounts of fruit that he hoped to sell. 

When the fruit was ripe and ready to harvest, something happened.  A giant Raven landed in the tree and started to eat the fruit.  "Please," said the younger brother.  "Don't eat my fruit.  My wife and I need to sell the fruit to get money to live."

The Raven heard his words and answered, "Don't worry about money.  Let me eat your fruit, and I will give you a valuable gift that is worth far more than the fruit I wish to eat."

When he heard this, the kind younger brother said, "Eat all the fruit you wish.  I accept your word that you will pay for what you take."

The Raven said, "Have your wife make you a sack that is three feet long.  Bring your sack back to the tree tomorrow.  I will return to help you get the payment I promised."

The next day, the Raven returned as he promised.  "Get on my back," the Raven said.  The younger brother climbed onto the back of the Raven.  The giant bird flapped its wings and flew upward with the frightened younger brother on his back.  He flew to a far away island.  When the Raven landed, he said "Fill your bag.  Here is the payment I promised."

All over the island, the younger brother saw jewels and precious stones.  He filled the bag and climbed back onto the Raven's back for the flight home.  When he arrived home, he thanked the Raven and ran to show the treasure to his wife.       

The couple bought a larger piece of land and built a large new home and soon lived in total comfort.  They used part of their money to help the poor.   One day, the couple invited the elder brother to come to dinner.  The greedy elder brother refused to go to his younger brother's poor house and eat like a poor man.  But, after many requests, he finally came to eat with his younger brother and his wife.

Instead of a house in poverty, he found that his younger brother was richer than he was.  All evening, he asked over and over where the younger brother got such a large amount of money.  Finally the younger brother told him anout the Raven and the star fruit tree.

The greedy elder brother begged the younger brother to trade the star fruit tree for all that he owned.  Out of respect for his elder brother, the younger brother accepted.  This was how he got back the property his parents once had owned and the elder brother came to own the star fruit tree.

The elder brother watered, fertilized and trimmed the star fruit tree.  It grew a new crop of fruit.  The Raven came back as before to eat the fruit.  Again it promised payment for his meal.  As before the Raven said to make a bag that was three feet long.  Instead of one three feet long, the greedy elder brother made two bags.  Each was six feet long.    

The giant Raven took the elder brother to the same far away island.  The elder brother was so very greedy that he filled both large bags and all of pockets with precious jewels.  On the way back home, the Raven struggled to stay in the air with all the extra weight.  However, despite his best efforts, the Raven could not support all the weight.

"Drop the bags," shouted the Raven.  "I cannot carry all of the weight."

"I will not drop them," said the elder brother.  "I would rather drown in the sea than have my younger brother be richer than I am."  And that is exactly what happened.  The Raven could not stay in the air and plunged into the sea where neither was ever seen again.

Source: I found several versions of this folktale that did not list their source.  Credit for translating this folktale from Vietnamese to English was given to Tran Van Dien (Folk Tales for Children, 1976)

Dr. Mike Lockett is an educator, storyteller and children's author from Normal, IL. Dr. Lockett has given more than 4000 programs across the USA and as far away as eastern Asia. Contact Mike by writing to in order to book him for a storytelling program or young authors program or to inquire about purchasing his books and CDs.