I hadn’t heard this story before, so it was a pleasure to read it. It’s about a farmer who has three sons named Valdis, Vilis and Teodors. Teodors was the odd one out because he couldn’t match the strength of his siblings.
One day, the farmer told his sons that the barn was falling down and it needed to pull it down and build a new one. Valdis and Vilis set to work at once. Teodors attempted to start work, but his brothers just laughed at him, telling him he was not strong enough to do the work. Teodors was left to pick up any bits and pieces that might be useful. When finished, the two strong brothers went into the forest to chop trees down for the new barn. Teodors begged them to let him try. They told him to chop down a fine pine. Teodors tried but couldn’t even lift the axe.
Teodors kept on trying to help but the brothers kept denying Teodors efforts. The farmer was watching his three sons, checking on their every move. Teodors made himself useful in ways that weren’t heavy duty. He always had things ready for them, like nails and a hammer.
When the new barn was complete, the farmer was proud of his sons. He told them that whoever could fill the empty barn in a day could have his rocking chair. Valdis and Vilis were ready for a rest. The next morning, Valdis looked for something to fill the barn. He spotted the cows in the meadow and thought they’d nicely fill up the barn. The cows were enjoying the grass and didn’t want to be put into a barn. After some struggling, Valdis had filled the barn with unwilling cows. Valdis was told by his father that he hadn’t filled it up to the roof.
Vilis tried next, spotting plenty of wheat to fill the barn. He loaded up his wagon and took it to the barn. His efforts took all day. Vilis was told that he had filled the barn to the roof but not from wall to wall.
The farmer told his son, Teodors that it was his turn tomorrow. Teodors said he was ready and that it wouldn’t take him long to fill the barn. Teodors took candles out of his pocket and places them around the barn, lighting them carefully. All of the candle light filled the barn with golden light. The farmer praised Teodors telling him that he’d filled the barn. He was given the rocking chair, but Teodors told his father to keep it. He said he was going to spend time getting strong like his brothers. The farmer said that it would take him a long time to be strong and tall like his brothers, but he would always be the most clever!
An extract from A Year Full of Stories, by Angela McAllister, illustrated by Christopher Corr (Frances Lincoln Children’s Books, 2016)