IN the weeks to come, The Star’s Newspaper-in-Education (Star-NiE) programme will present a collection of stories donated by The Straits Times newspaper of Singapore for use by teachers and students in the classroom.
The stories chosen are classis legends, myths, fables and folklore from around the world rewritten as modern news or feature stories. Young readers and adults will enjoy reading the likes of William Shakespeare’s Macbeth and Hamlet, and Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein in a modern news format. But these stories are not just good yarns.
They touch the soul, nourish the mind, and give readers a better sense of their place in the world. By studying the plots and characters, readers can make the stories a part of their lives.The tale behind
the storyHoly texts all mention the Queen of Sheba.
For centuries, she stirred the imaginations of artists, writers and poets, who each put their own spin on the story.
Some legends tell of her fondness for riddles, while others credit her with inventing hair-removal products after she once accidentally lifted up her skirt and flashed her hairy legs at Solomon, the king famous for his wisdom.
In Ethiopian myths, she is known as Makeda – the mother of the north African nation.
Ethiopian folklore says that after she left Solomon, she returned home and gave birth to his son, whose descendants founded the country.
But experts are not sure who the real Sheba was or where she came from.
Some think it was Saba, a kingdom in what is now Yemen in the Middle East, and that her trip could have been a trade mission to buy and sell goods.
The mystery, however, just seems to make her more popular.“Beautiful, mysterious girl seeks good-looking, wise and rich guy. Must love solving riddles.”
This was the 13-word personal advertisement that sparked the romance between billionaire Roy Solomon and pop star Sheba.
It appeared in the “Lonely Hearts” section of The Biblical Times newspaper, where men and women hoping to meet the loves of their lives pay for advertisements describing themselves and their perfect mates.
Solomon was flipping through it when this one caught his eye. So he rang the telephone number listed and arranged a blind date.
And what a date it was! Both, of course, were celebrities in their own right.
Solomon, the head of a business empire, is known for his intelligence and wisdom, with governments, companies and ordinary people seeking his advice on a wide range of issues.
The most famous case was a complicated custody battle in which two women claimed to be the mother of a baby. Solomon suggested they settle it by cutting the baby in half, at which point one said she would give up her claim rather than see the baby hurt.
This was something only the real mother would do, said Solomon, before he gave the baby to her.
Sheba, on the other hand, has always been something of a mystery. A pop singer with chart-topping hits such as Sheba From The Block, she
also acts and has her own perfume and clothing lines, although little is known of her past.
When the two met, Sheba knew it would take more than money and good looks to impress her.
“I want to see if he’s got brains, ” she told close friends.
So date after date, she pelted him with questions, brain-teasers and riddles.
Each time, he came up with the right answer. He even gave her a few business ideas including one which prompted her to start a line of hair-removal products.
The gossip magazines loved them. Photos of the couple out and about were splashed across the front pages, as were details of their lavish gifts – gold, precious stones and sports cars – to each other.
The press even gave them a name: “Solomon”.
But like many modern fairy tales, it had to end. The pair split up when Sheba decided to move back home.
A year later, it was revealed that she had given birth to a baby boy. While she has never said who the father is, many in her hometown insist it is Solomon.FAB VOCABMYSTERIOUS – With a strange, secret nature or quality
LONELY HEARTS – People who look for friends or mates by placing notices (called personal advertisements) in newspapers or on the Internet
BLIND DATE – An appointment with a stranger which could lead to romance
CELEBRITIES – Famous people
WISDOM – Knowledge and insight
CUSTODY BATTLE – When parents who disagree over who gets to live with, and take care of a child, take their quarrel to the courts
IMPRESS – To fill someone with admiration
BRAIN-TEASERS – Difficult problems
LAVISH – Very generous or expensive, perhaps too much so
INSIST – To say something is true, usually quite forcefullyIF YOU ENJOYED THIS, READ: > Save Queen Of Sheba by Louise Moer
> The Search For Lost Worlds: An Exploration Of The Lands Of Myth And Legend, Including Atlantis, Sheba, And Avalon by James Howard Wellard
> The Flower Of Sheba by Doris Orgel
The Little Big Story Book: Tall Tales That Made The News by Alison de Souza. Copyright Singapore Press Holdings Ltd. Printed with Permission