A Story from Italy
You’d probably like to hear a story about magic, wouldn’t you?
Naturally! Magic is the most fantastic thing in all the world. There are
so many people who don’t believe in magic--but that’s usually
because they’re too grown up. They think they know something about the
world! They’ve forgotten that everything around us is actually magic.
Don’t believe me? Think about the way sunlight turns into
rainbows--that’s pretty magical! Think about the way our plates and
bowls and coffee cups are made of wet clay and fire! Very magical. Or
the way that all of the windows in our cars and houses are made of
And think about the most powerful magic of all: words and numbers. IF
you know all the letters of the alphabet and the numbers from 1-9, you
can use them in a million different ways nobody ever thought of before.
You could invent machines with them, make people cry and laugh with
them, you could even change the world with your little letters and
All of this is magical. Everything ordinary is magical. But grownups
You’re probably thinking, “That’s not real magic!”
You probably want to hear a story about wizards. About people who can
change shapes, make fire and lightning come out of their hands, turn
invisible, or fly. Well, those things are magical too. I’ll tell you a
story about that kind of magic--but only if you promise to remember that
the really powerful magicians are always the people who know that
ordinary things are the most magical things of all and the BOOKS contain
all the magical secrets in the world.
There is in a great sparkling ocean far, far away, an island called
Sicily. Sicily is a hot, dry place with lots of olive trees and deserts.
The buildings are made of dusty yellow bricks and they all have red clay
rooftops. There are palm trees that shade the towns, and fields full of
grapes and tomato plants.
Back in the old days in Sicily, there was a widow who had a son named
Dionigi. (Dee-oh-neegee. Hard “g” like in Great--Not a “J”
sound). Dionigi was a very clever boy. When he was young, the neighbors
pitied him for being so poor, and so they sent him to a good school
where he learned to read, write, and do mathematics. Dionigi and his
mother lived in a brick cottage at the edge of the village and owned
absolutely nothing. They depended on charity to survive, and Dionigi had
no job. Finally, one day, the old widow got so tired of supporting her
useless son, so she forced him to leave.
“Get out!” she said, “Go make your fortune!”
So Dionigi went all over looking for an apprenticeship. He wanted to
learn a trade.
Dionigi went to the butcher, the blacksmith, the jeweler, the
glassmaker, and the tailor, asked if he could become their apprentice.
None of them were impressed with Dionigi. They shut the door in his face
The boy was so depressed. He sat down on a stoop and cried. Evening was
setting, and a lone old man was coming up the road. He wore a white robe
and a broad black hat and carried the bag of a surgeon. At once, Dionigi
wiped his eyes.
“Signore!” he called, “Signore!”
The old man stopped. He had shining black eyes and a long grey beard. He
walked with the help of a staff.
“Signore, do you need an apprentice?” Dionigi asked.
“I’m a physician!” the old man said.
“So, can I be your apprentice?” Dionigi asked.
The old man spoke up again. “Doctors like me don’t have
apprentices. They have pupils. And I don’t need a pupil.” With that,
the old man started walking off.
Dionigi got up and ran after him.
“Wait, wait!” the boy cried. “Please, doctor. Let me be your
servant, your assistant. Anything!” the boy pressed his hands together
in front of his face like he was praying.
The old man chewed on his own gums.
“Please, signore!” the boy cried, “I’m begging you!”
“Well,” the old man grumbled, “can you read?”
Dionigi’s face lit up. He could read--it was the one thing he could
“Yes, doctor. I can read!” he said proudly. “In three
The old man’s eyebrows crumpled up in disappointment. “I can’t
have a servant who knows how to read,” he said, and began walking
“Wait, wait!” Dionigi shouted. “I was lying. I really can’t
Excerpted from "Fairy Tales for Children and Kids: Learning Good from Bad While Developing Brain Imagination Powers" by Templeton Institute for Neurology. Copyright © 2015 by Templeton Institute for Neurology. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.