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Alternate Endings for Aaron Shepard’s

The Boy Who Wanted the Willies


For more treats and resources, visit Aaron Shepard at
www.aaronshep.com

Copyright © 2002 Aaron Shepard. All rights reserved.


With my retelling “The Boy Who Wanted the Willies,” my greatest trouble by far was to find the right ending. Part of the problem was that I wanted to find something a ridiculously fearless boy would believably be scared of. Another part was to make that thing funny. And ideally, the ending should also say something meaningful, instead of being only a gag.

Why didn’t I just use a traditional ending for this folktale? Because, as I see it, the ending of this story has always been a problem, and the traditional solutions are not very good. In the Grimm version, for example, the boy gets the willies when the princess dowses him with a bucket of flopping fish in water. Not that funny.

I thought I could do better, but it was harder than I thought. I did come up with some good, funny, meaningful endings—but some worked for younger kids, some worked for older ones, and some didn’t work at all. I tried for years without finding a perfect solution.

In the end, the best I could do was an ending that isn’t even entirely mine—it’s a variation suggested by a student at Pinedale Elementary School in Pinedale, California. Though not as punchy as some other endings, it always gets good laughs from every age group. Still, it’s only a gag, with no special meaning—and I think that’s the one thing that has kept me from getting this story published as a picture book.

Here for your curiosity and enjoyment are most of the other endings I tried. Maybe you’ll like one of them better than the one I chose. Or maybe you’ll come up with one that’s better still!

—Aaron

* * *

That morning, the king and his men rode up to the castle. How surprised they were to find Hans alive, and with three pots of gold!

“Did anything scare you last night?” said the king.

“I’m afraid not,” said Hans.

“Oh well,” said the king, “at least you found the castle treasure. And now that you’re rich, I think you’d make a fine son-in-law! So why not propose to my daughter?”

The princess stepped forward, smiling shyly. Never had Hans seen anyone so lovely!

“Go ahead,” said the king. “Say something to her.”

“Gee . . . I . . . um . . . ,” said Hans. “Well . . . y’know . . . uh . . . .”

He started to shiver.

He started to shake.

He started to quiver.

He started to quake.

“Hooray!” cried Hans. “At last I’ve got the w-w-willies!”

* * *

That morning, the king and his men rode up to the castle. How surprised they were to find Hans alive, and with three pots of gold!

“Did anything scare you last night?” said the king.

“I’m afraid not,” said Hans.

“Oh well,” said the king, “at least you found the castle treasure. And now that you’re rich, I think you’d make a fine son-in-law! So why not propose to my daughter?”

Up stepped the princess. She had two noses. She had three eyes. She had four arms. She had five tails.

“Sweetie!” she said. “Gimme a kiss!”

“Wait!” said Hans. “I feel strange.”

He started to shiver.

He started to shake.

He started to quiver.

He started to quake.

“Hooray!” cried Hans. “At last, I’ve got the w-w-willies!”

* * *

That morning, the king and his men rode up to the castle. How surprised they were to find Hans alive, and with three pots of gold!

“Did anything scare you last night?” said the king.

“I’m afraid not,” said Hans.

Just then, the sun rose and shone through the window. Something big and black appeared on the wall.

“Oh, help!” cried Hans. “What’s that?!”

“That’s your shadow,” said the king.

He started to shiver.

He started to shake.

He started to quiver.

He started to quake.

“Hooray!” cried Hans. “At last, I’ve got the w-w-willies!”

[As Hans celebrates, the last illustration shows his shadow—unnoticed behind him—poised and ready to pounce.]

* * *

That morning, the king and his men rode up to the castle. How surprised they were to find Hans alive, and with three pots of gold!

“Did anything scare you last night?” said the king.

“I’m afraid not,” said Hans.

“Oh well,” said the king, “at least you get the most precious object in my realm. And here it is!”

Two men brought a looking glass in a gem-studded frame. Hans pointed in horror. “What’s that?!”

“That’s your reflection,” said the king. “Haven’t you ever seen yourself in a mirror?”

“Never!” said Hans.

He started to shiver.

He started to shake.

He started to quiver.

He started to quake.

“Hooray!” cried Hans. “At last, I’ve got the w-w-willies!”

* * *

That morning, the king and his men rode up to the castle. How surprised they were to find Hans alive, and with three pots of gold!

“Did anything scare you last night?” said the king.

“I’m afraid not,” said Hans.

“Oh well,” said the king, “I guess you’ll never get the willies.”

“Never?” said Hans.

“Never,” said the king.

“Never ever?” said Hans.

“Never ever ever,” said the king.

“Ooh,” said Hans. “That makes me feel strange.”

He started to shiver.

He started to shake.

He started to quiver.

He started to quake.

“Hooray!” cried Hans. “At last I’ve got the w-w-willies!”

* * *

That morning, the king and his men rode up to the castle. How surprised they were to find Hans alive, and with three pots of gold!

“Did anything scare you last night?” said the king.

“I’m afraid not,” said Hans.

“Oh well,” said the king, “at least you found the castle treasure. But now that you’re rich, you’ll need servants. Why not take three of mine?”

Up stepped three young men.

The first said, “I’m Willy.”

The second said, “I’m Willy, too.”

The third said, “I’m Willy, three.”

“Willy, Willy, and Willy? Hooray!” cried Hans. “At last I’ve got the Willies!”

* * *

That morning, the king and his men rode up to the castle. How surprised they were to find Hans alive, and with three pots of gold!

“Did anything scare you last night?” said the king.

“I’m afraid not,” said Hans.

“Oh well,” said the king, “at least you’ll be rich and famous.”

“Famous?” said Hans.

“Certainly!” said the king. “For hundreds of years, people will tell of the boy who wanted the willies!”

“People? Talking? About me?” said Hans. “Oh, I feel strange.”

He started to shiver.

He started to shake.

He started to quiver.

He started to quake.

“Hooray!” cried Hans. “At last I’ve got the w-w-willies!”

* * *

That morning, the king and his men rode up to the castle. How surprised they were to find Hans alive, and with three pots of gold!

“Did anything scare you last night?” said the king.

“I’m afraid not,” said Hans.

“Oh well,” said the king, “at least you found the castle treasure.”

“But, Your Majesty,” said Hans, “I can’t keep it!”

“Why not?” said the king.

“It’s too heavy,” said Hans. “It would slow me down while I look for the willies!”

And if Hans hasn’t found the willies yet, he’s still looking.