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    Spider and Turtle live in different countries. They first meet when Turtle, famished from traveling a long way from home, comes upon Spider's house. While Spider is well known among his neighbors for his great appetite and his greediness, Turtle, being a stranger, believes Spider's offer of a meal to be sincere.

    It becomes clear that Spider wants all the food for himself and that his gesture of hospitality is mere show so that people will not speak badly of him. Turtle realizes that he has been tricked out of having any food but doesn't let on that he knows.

    He suavely concurs with Spider that it was a fine meal; and as Turtle leaves, he assures Spider of similar hospitality if Spider ever visits in his country. In time, the gluttonous Spider finds himself a long way from home in Turtle's country.

    Now it is Turtle's turn to use local custom as a camouflage for true intent. He repays Spider's gesture of hospitality and Spider gets the meal that he deserves.



1. Why did Spider invite Turtle to share his food?

(A)___   To amuse himself
(B)___   To be kind and helpful
(C)___   To have company at dinner
(D)___   To appear generous


.2. There is a saying, "Don't get mad, get even." How does this apply to the story?

3. Which best describes Spider's character?
(A)___ Patient
(B)___ Friendly
(C)___ Selfish
(D)___ Angry

4. What do Turtle's actions at Spider's house tell you about Turtle?

5. When Turtle remains quiet about his mistreatment by Spider, the author wants you to
(A)___ believe Turtle is afraid
(B)___ have sympathy for Turtle
(C)___ feel dislike for Turtle
(D)___ think Turtle deserved no dinner

6. Think about Spider and Turtle in the story. Pick someone you know, have read about, or have seen in the movies or on television and explain how that person is like either Spider or Turtle.

7. Spider's behavior during the first part of the story is most like that of
(A)___ mothers protecting their children
(B)___ thieves robbing banks
(C)___ runners losing races
(D)___ people not sharing their wealth

8. Who do you think would make a better friend, Spider or Turtle? Explain why

9. Spider's visit to Turtle in the second part of the story mainly shows that
(A)___ Turtle could treat Spider the same way
(B)___ Spider could float on the water
(C)___ Spider could get a free meal
(D)___ Turtle lived in a small house

10. Do you think Turtle should have done what he did to Spider? Explain why or why not.

11. The final sentence of the story is: "People always say that one good meal deserves another." The author uses this sentence as a way of saying that
(A)___ Turtle and Spider both were good cooks
(B)___ Turtle should not have invited Spider to dinner
(C)___ Spider earned what Turtle did to him
(D)___ Spider should have cooked what Turtle liked to eat

12. Which group of words best helps you to understand the message of this story?
(A)___Strength, joy, humor
(B)___ Foolishness, anger, endurance
(C)___Communication, friendship, honesty (D) Fear, frustration, bewildermen


NAEP Statistics on 1994 Story Question Performance

Click here to go to Scoring Guidelines page!

National Performance Results

Percentage of Students
Omitted Item
  Scale bar 
  • These results are for public and nonpublic school students.
  • Percentage may not add to 100 due to rounding.


[Editor's Note: "Hungry Spider and the Turtle" is a West African folktale that humorously depicts hunger and the custom of hospitality through the actions and conversations of the title characters. We did not receive copyright approval to put the actual text from the student booklet on the Website. Full text can be found in Harold Courlander, "Hungry Spider and the Turtle," from The Cow-Tail Switch & Other West African Stories. 1987 by Henry Holt and Company, Inc.]

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