Children’s Stories: 《胆小先生》Mr. Coward

Mr. Coward’s home is invaded by mice, but he doesn’t have the gumption to do anything about it. Or does he? This little story will be comfortable at HSK 3-4.

Mr. Coward’s home is invaded by mice, but he doesn’t have the gumption to do anything about it. Or does he? This little story will be comfortable at HSK 3-4.

Some language stuff

胆子 dǎn zi – In English, when we want to describe someone who’s brave, we may say they have “lots of courage”. In Chinese, they use “big courage” (胆子大) and “small courage” (胆子小) instead. In Mr. Coward’s name, this has been shortened to 胆小.

fàng – The most common usage of this word is “to put”, but in this case, its alternate meaning is being used: “to let go”, or “to set free”, as in birds or captives.

pèi – One definition for this word is “match”, as in “Does this shirt match this blouse?” But here, it’s being used as “deserve”, as in “You don’t deserve me!”

…呀…呀 [pinyin]ya[/pinyin] – So, this one’s interesting. The sound 呀 can be used when you’re listing out similar things. You use it after every item in the list. Take the English sentence: “They feasted on pies, and cakes, and cookies, and candy… it was a real banquet!” In Chinese, you’d add 呀 like this: “They feasted on pies 呀, and cakes 呀, and cookies 呀 and candy 呀…”. You can do it with actions, too: “We were at the beach for hours, we played 呀, and swam 呀, and lay in the sun 呀.” This adds an unspoken sense of happy abundance to your sentence.

dōng – An onomatopoeia describing the sound of a thump

原来 yuán lái – Often means “originally”, as in “I originally intended to come Monday”, but in this case means “Turns out”, as in “Turns out I had something else to do that day.”

以为 yǐ wéi – I just covered this one in a recent beginner post, so if you’re a frequent reader, you’ll get to use what you learned here. If not, go check it out.

Source here.

Want something easier?

Du Chinese has a big catalog of easy HSK 1 and HSK 2 texts for ultra-beginners. There are quite a few free practice lessons, but CRP readers get 10% off on paid accounts using the discount code CRP10.













Show English translation »
There was a man who lived in a beautiful house. Because he had very little courage, everyone called him Mr. Coward.

One day, a big mouse charged into his house. Mr. Coward immediately went to catch it, and the result was that he caught it in the basement.

“Let me go!” the big mouse said, struggling, “If I stamp one foot, the whole house will fall down.”

Mr. Coward was afraid, and hurriedly let him go, and even allowed him to live in the basement.

There was lots to eat in the basement, and the big mouse ate, and drank, and had lots of fun. Later, the big mouse birthed a nest of little mice, and the little mice grew into big mice…. soon, the basement was full of mice.

“This won’t do, this won’t do!” the big mouse yelled at Mr. Coward, “This many mice living in this small, small basement, and you alone living in that many rooms, it’s too unreasonable, we have to switch quarters.”

“Switch quarters?” So Mr. Coward [went to] live in the basement, the mice moved into every [upstairs] room, and in the wide living room they sange, and jumped, and in the fragrant kitchen they drank, and ate, and every day was like a holiday.

“You should move out!” the big mouse again yelled at Mr. Coward, “What are you doing living in the basement? Such a nice basement, do you deserve to live there?”

“What?” Mr. Coward was so angry he stamped his right foot, “Dong…” The mice were afraid, they covered their heads and fled in disarray, thinking it was an earthquake.

“Oh! Turns out I’m quite fierce!” Mr. Coward grabbed up an old broom, pouncing here, hitting there, stabbing here and beating there, beating the mice until they squeaked “zhi zhi“, and they all ran away.

6 replies on “Children’s Stories: 《胆小先生》Mr. Coward”

I absolutely love these, thank you!

Second to last paragraph – I think 胆小先生stamped his right foot, not his left.

Man after my own heart. I’ve been considering that. Just a question of time to set it all up, really.

I’ve been reading these at work (I’m on reception!).
It’s such an amazing resource. It’s so nice to be able to keep my Chinese learning going even here, whilst getting some entertainment too!
Thanks for your hard work!

Thank you so much for your contributions. I have been self learning Mandarin for some years now so I am looking for simple children happy stories like these to further improve. We are in CMCO ( controlled movements ) so I have time on hand to read and improve…basically exactly what I want. Thank you so much. Children stories make me happy and so much vocabulary to learn,too.

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