Andersen Fairy Tales, Andersen-Hans Christian

The Jumper

The JumperThe Jumper

There were once three jumping contestants a flea, a grasshopper, and a skipjack. The flea considered himself pretty great because he had the blood of a noble lady inside of him. The grasshopper had some story about how he had lived in a house of cards and came from a family in Egypt. The skipjack said nothing, but the king’s counselor said the skipjack possessed the gift of prophecy.

There was to be a contest to see who could jump the highest. As a prize, the king would give his daughter because the jumpers couldn’t jump for nothing.

The Flea jumped so high nobody could see him and everyone said he had not jumped at all. The grasshopper jumped right into the king’s face, which was declared rude. The skipjack thought about it and jumped into the princess’ lap. The king declared the skipjack the winner because he had jumped where the prize was. The skipjack was declared to have head. The flea was angry, so was the grasshopper. They both went off in pursuit of other adventures.

The End


First of all, I’m getting kind of tired of these kings just giving away their daughters to any old person who proves a bet. Your own daughter, you jerk, your own daughter, and you just give her away to whoever can pee the farthest.

Second of all, what in the heck is a skipjack? Well, it’s apparently a piece of bone, usually a breastbone from a bird, a bit of wax and some string. This apparently became a toy, which children could skip. I still don’t see how.

Seriously, kids played with a bone from a bird. When I was growing up, at least we had blocks and tinker toys. We didn’t have to play with pieces of bone.


The idea here is to think with the end goal in mind. You can do some extraordinary thing, but if it doesn’t get you closer to an end, there wasn’t a lot of point in doing that thing. It’s like wasting your effort.

Thinking of it with a modern-day perspective, if you were trying to get a job, you would tailor your resume to the position. You wouldn’t list that you could juggle if you were applying for a job as a welder. You don’t need juggling when you’re welding.

The skipjack went right to the main goal in the whole thing. He proved that he could jump and he jumped right into the princess’ lap.

I feel awfully sorry for her having to marry a piece of bird bone.


This story is kind of weird.

Weigh In

Would you run away if you were the princess in this story?

How does a piece of bird bone become sentient?


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