babe the blue ox

Year of the Ox

“Ox is the second in the 12-year cycle of Chinese zodiac sign. Years of the Ox include 1913, 1925, 1937, 1949, 1961, 1973, 1985, 1997, 2009, 2021, 2033…

Ranking second in Chinese zodiacal signs, the Ox is huge. People often use it to indicate something big in size or number. People born in the Year of Ox bear persistent, simple, honest, and straightforward characteristics. They are talent leaders with strong faith, and strong devotion to work. They are contemplative before taking actions, not easily affected by the surroundings but just follow their concept and ability. Being conservative with a lack of wit in speaking, they usually look silent and sometimes stubborn in their old ways.

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Paul Bunyan & Babe the Blue Ox: Big BFFs


Blair, Walter. Tall Tale America, a Legendary History of Our Humorous Heroes. New York: Coward-McCann, Inc, 1944. Print.

Botkin, Benjamin Albert. A Treasury of American Folklore, Stories, Ballads, and Traditions of the People. New York: Crown Publishers, 1944. Print.

“Bunyan, Paul, myth of.” The New Encyclopedia of the American West. Yale University Press, 1998. Credo Reference. Web. 30 January 2012.

Dolbier, Maurice. Paul Bunyan. New York: Random House, 1959. Print.

Ratigan, William. The Adventures of Paul Bunyan and Babe. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, Print.

Rounds, Glen. Ol’ Paul, The Mighty Logger : Being a True Account of the Seemingly Incredible Exploits and Inventions of the Great Paul Bunyan. 40th ed. New York: Holiday House, 1976. Print.

San Souci, Robert D. Larger than Life : John Henry and Other Tall Tales. New York: Doubleday, 1991. Print.

Shephard, Esther. Paul Bunyan. Slightly rev. ed. San Diego: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1985. Print.


During the Winter of the Blue Snow, legendary logger Paul Bunyan came upon Babe the Blue Ox in a blizzard. After being taken back to the logging camp, Babe grew rapidly. Paul and Babe became fast friends and had many adventures together, including making many recognizable landmarks.

Cultural Origins

According to several source notes, the folklore surrounding Paul Bunyan has disputed origins. The first mention of Babe in print comes from a logging brochure dating to 1914, written by W. B. Laughead. Laughead and others supposedly collected the tales from loggers in Michigan, Wisconsin, and Minnesota. They estimate that the stories started circulating around the 1860s. The stories gained much popularity following the publication of several books about Paul Bunyan. Today, many parts of the country, from Maine to Oregon, claim a piece of legend.


The story, as I’ve prepared to tell it, is best suited to elementary school students. I also think adults, especially those familiar with the legend, would enjoy it because the nature of the story is very episodic, so they may want to share their own versions or adventures as they recall them.

Why did you choose to tell this story?

I wanted to start out with a story I with which had some familiarity, but maybe would not be as familiar to the class. I grew up in Minnesota and have been to the Paul Bunyan theme park in Brainerd many times. This also seemed like a good story to begin my story portfolio, because I’m planning on picking stories for Minnesotan children, and Paul Bunyan is one of the best known Minnesotan folk heroes. I also spent a summer in Bemidji, MN, home of an enormous Paul and Babe statue. He’s been on my mind ever since.

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How did you adapt this story to make it your own?

From all the versions of the story I read, there are a bunch of inconsistencies in terms of when and how Babe and Paul met and the adventures they have. I tried to pick three plot points, cobbling together my favorite bits from the different versions: the meeting, the size of Babe, and one adventure (I chose the straightening of a road). I also made up part of my own ending, having Babe and Paul retire to Florida rather than Alaska. What Minnesotan retires to Alaska? Forget it. 

How did you go about learning this story? How did you practice?   

I started with the knowledge I had from growing up in Minnesota and absorbing the story there. Then I read a bunch of versions of the story, mentally keeping tabs on the repeating anecdotes and my favorite parts. The versions I relied on the most are listed in in the “Sources” section. As I read more versions, I developed an idea of the arc I would create. The next step for this week is to practice saying it out loud and getting the timing down. I have three sections to the story, and three “bullet points” for each section, but I’m not sure how long they will take to verbalize. My “dress rehearsal” will be telling the story to my friends this weekend. They can’t wait.