`Have you ever read The Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy – Retold by Jon J Muth?
Initial Thoughts on The Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy – Retold by Jon J Muth
The Three Questions [Based on a story by Leo Tolstoy] is a short story written by Leo Tolstoy. The version that I first read is a retelling of the story by Jon J Muth, and, can literally be read in five minutes. Despite that, the story is very profound and the lessons are suitable for all age groups. To tell the story, Jon J Muth changes the characters to make them suitable for a young audience.
It’s worth reading The Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy and compare it to the retelling of the story.
What is The Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy – Retold by Jon J Muth About?
Nikolai, a boy, as all children do, has questions to which he is seeking answers. He wants to be a good person, and believes that if he gets the answers to the following questions, that will enable him to achieve his goal.
What Are the Three Questions?
- When is the best time to do things?
- Who is the most important one?
- What is the right thing to do?
UPDATE: First Published in April 2014
He poses the questions to his friends, Sonya, the heron; Gogol, the monkey; and Pushkin, the dog. Individually, Nikolai’s friends give him good answers, so for the first question, Sonya tells him that to be able to determine the best time to do things he has to formulate a plan in advance. Gogol tells him that if he pays close attention, he will know when and Pushkin tells him that he needs the assistance of others to decide the opportune time for doing things.
Nikolai asks, ‘who is the most important one?’ and such a question often poses a huge problem because the responses invariably are going to be biased. Sonya responds that those who are closest to heaven; Gogol believes that healers are most important because a coconut has just fallen on his head, and Pushkin thinks that it’s those that make the rules. He asks his final question, ‘what is the right thing to do?’ Sonya says it’s flying; Gogol responds that it is having fun; and Pushkin thinks it is fighting.
All of the answers that Nikolai receives is very personal and reflective of the respondent’s situation. He is dissatisfied and decides to seek advice from Leo the wise turtle. When Nikolai arrives at Leo’s place, he asks the turtle his three questions. Leo is digging a garden, but is not making much progress, so Nikolai takes over the task. Before he finishes the task, it starts to rain and he hears a cry for help. Before thinking about his safety, the young boy runs to the location where the sound is coming from and finds an injured panda. He carries the panda to the safety of Leo’s cottage, and takes care of the wound. When the panda wakes up, she asks for her child. Nikolai runs outside into the storm to find the baby panda and carries it to its mother.
Leo is pleased with Nikolai’s actions. The next morning, the two pandas leave the cottage and Nikolai’s three friends – Sonya, Gogol and Pushkin – arrive to make sure that everyone is safe. The boy feels peace because he realizes that he has very good friends, and recognizes that he did a good deed by rescuing both pandas. But he still wants answers to his three questions. Leo tells the boy that his questions have already been answered.
The answers reflect the importance of mindfulness – being in the here and now – and paying attention to what’s right in front of your eyes. Jon J Muth recommends that you read the original The Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy, so I did, and I can say that he has done an excellent job of retelling the story. Although the cast of characters is different, the essence of the story remains.
Please read the original The Three Questions by Leo Tolstoy and the retelling of the story.
Books by Jon J Muth