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The Short Story of the Goblin and the Grocer in English for Kids

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The story of the Goblin and the Grocer is a Danish fairytale illustrating the fascination of a goblin with a student’s tattered poetry book. Some of the objectives of the story are –

  •  Who is the goblin

  •  What sight did he see

  •  How are we often made to choose between our heart and mind

Introduction to the Goblin and the Grocer Story

Short stories are a fun and exciting way to learn new things and transcend into magical worlds of fairies, goblins, and all things ethereal. Stories have special significance in the lives of children because they teach kids invaluable moral, intellectual, and social lessons. In addition, children also learn the good habits of discipline and patience with regular reading. One genre of short stories that children absolutely adore is fairytales. Do you know that there is a fairytale about a goblin who witnessed a miraculous and splendid sight and was so mesmerized by it that he was on the verge of leaving someone who gave him bread and jam? Are you intrigued by the synopsis? If yes, go through the Goblin and the Grocer story summary below.

Origin of the Goblin and the Grocer Story

Danish author Hans Christian Anderson wrote the story of the Goblin and the Grocer in 1852. In 1897, Andrew Land included the tale in the Pink Fair Book.

The Goblin and Grocer Story Summary

Once upon a time, there lived a hardworking and dedicated student named Garret in the attic of a house. He had nothing in the world of his own. Our story also has an equally hard working grocer who lived on the first floor and had the whole house for himself. The grocer had one unique possession. Can you guess what it is? Well, the grocer had a goblin, and every Christmas Eve, the goblin would wait at the grocer for a dish of jam with a large lump of butter at the center.

The grocer could afford one meal during Christmas for the goblin, and therefore, he let the goblin stay in his shop. One evening, Garret came inside the grocery by the back door to buy candles and cheese. He brought the essentials, nodded a good evening to the grocer and his wife, and left. However, when Garret had said his good night, he suddenly froze on his feet, as the sheet of paper in which the cheese had been wrapped was a left torn out of an old book – a book of poetry.

The grocer could grasp the expression and body language of Garret and realized that the leaf torn from the book had an impact on him. Therefore, he said, ‘there is more of that over there!’ He continued by mentioning that he gave an old woman some coffee in exchange for the book and that Garret would have the rest of the book for twopence. Garret agreed!

To get his copy of the torn poetry book, Garret had to let go of his cheese. He said that he could eat bread without cheese, but it would be a shame to leave the book to be mangled. He then said to the grocer, ‘you are a clever and practical man, but about poetry, you understand as much as that old tub over there!’ Although the comment was rude, the grocer laughed, and so did Garret.

However, one individual who did not take the comment lightly was the goblin. He was angry that how dare anyone say such a thing to the grocer who owned the house and sold the butter. Then, our Goblin and the Grocer story summary continue.

When night fell, the shop was shut, and everyone was in bed except the student; the Goblin went upstairs and took the grocer’s tongue. She did not use it when she was asleep, and on whatever objects the goblin put the tongue, it spoke out its thoughts and feelings in a tone similar to the grocer’s wife. However, the catch is that only one thing could use the tongue at a time; otherwise, everything would start speaking together.

The goblin laid the tongue on the tub with old newspapers. The goblin asked the tub, ‘is it true that you know nothing about poetry?’ The tub answered, ‘certainly not. Poetry is something that is in the papers, which is frequently cut out. I have a great more in me than the student has, and yet I am only a small tub in the grocer’s shop.’

Then the goblin placed the tongue in the coffee mill, on the butter cask, on the till, and finally on the waste paper. He asked everyone the same question, whether they knew about poetry. Every object had the same answer; they knew poetry better than the student did.

Then, the goblin decided that he would tell the student everything. He crept stealthily up the stairs to the attic where the student lived. The goblin peeped through the keyhole to see Garret reading the tattered poetry book. Then, suddenly the goblin caught hold of a captivating sight. He had the epiphany that the student’s room was bright and dazzling. Out of the book, a clear shaft of light arose that grew into a large tree and spread its branches far above the student. Every leaf of the tree was alive, and every flower was a beautiful girl’s head, some of whom had dark, shining eyes, whereas others had wonderful blue ones.

Then, the goblin saw that every fruit in that magical tree was a glittering star, and he could also hear soothing music in the student’s room. The goblin never had in his wildest dreams expected to witness such a splendid phenomenon in Garret’s room. He stood on tiptoe gazing and gazing until the candle in Garret’s attic was put off. He had blown it out to go to sleep. But, the goblin remained outside the room, listening to the music, which had now transformed into a melodious lullaby.

The goblin thought to him, ‘I have never seen anything like this. I must stay with the student.’ He then decided to hatch a plan on how to stay with Garrett. He contemplates and finally sighs, ‘Garret has no jam!’ Then, he went down to the grocer’s shop, and it was a good move because the tub had nearly worn out the tongue. Just in time, the goblin came and returned the tongue to its owner.

But that night changed something within the shop as well. All the things inside the store began looking up to the tub and revered him, as they were under the impression that when the grocer read the art and drama critiques out of the paper in the evenings, it all came from the tub. But, the little goblin had no interest in listening to all the wisdom and knowledge down at the store. All he could think about was the splendid sight inside Garret’s room.

In the evening, as soon as the light shone from the attic, the goblin went to peep through the keyhole again. He felt that a strong force was dragging him up, and that feeling left with a stream of tears rolling down his eye. He could not understand why he wept, but despite the tears, he felt happy. He thought how beautiful it must be to sit under the tree with the student but felt a pang of misery, realizing it was out of his reach. All he could do was peep through the keyhole and visually indulge in the glory and beauty of the splendid tree.

The goblin continued to stand behind the attic’s door. It was a bitter cold Autumn night, and the teeth-chattering wind was blowing through the room. But, the goblin could not feel a thing, and it was only after Garret blew off his candle and the music stopped that the goblin realized he was freezing. Then, he moved downstairs to his warm corner of the store, which made him feel comfortable.

Days passed, and it was Christmas time. The grocer had given the goblin jam with a large lump of butter, as always. Then, the goblin’s adoration for the grocer re-ignited. After Christmas, a few days passed, but one midnight, there was a massive hullabaloo outside. The goblin woke up to hear noises and knocking against the shutters of the store – people were hammering from outside. The security guard was blowing his horn. The security guard was blowing his horn. What happened was that a great fire had broken out, and the whole town was engulfed in flames.

The alarms increased. The grocer and his wife woke up. The wife was so terrified that she took her gold earrings and put them in her pocket to save something in case every possession of theirs went down in flames. The grocer also made a similar move as he seized his account books. The house cleaner took the black silk dress she had scrimped so hard to buy. Everyone was frantically trying to save something, and so did the goblin. In a few hurried leaps, he was up the stairs, outside Garret’s room.

Garrett was standing calmly in his, observing the flames erupting from the house opposite his. The goblin took the opportunity to seize the torn poetry book from under the table, put it in his red cap, and clasped it with both hands. He felt that the best treasure in the house was saved. The goblin then climbed onto the house’s roof, then onto the chimney with his prized possession. There, he sat watching the burning house opposite. The goblin thought to himself that he had the most valued possession with him, and the book was to whom he really belonged. However, when the fire was put out, the goblin thought over his feelings again.

The goblin thought to himself, ‘I will divide myself between the two. I cannot give up on the grocer because of the jam.’ In a nutshell, all that goblin felt was the fire was put out and was very human. Why? Because off to the grocer we go for our porridge.  Do you want to know what the statement means? Then read the moral below!

Garrett reading under the splendid and magical tree

Garrett Reading Under the Splendid and Magical Tree

Moral of the Grocer and the Goblin Story 

The Grocer and the Goblin story is an ultimate allegory to human behavior. The goblin had, within his hands, what he thought was the best thing in the whole wide world – the tattered poetry book. But, in the end, he decided to divide himself because he needed to go to the grocer for the jam. Similarly, humans also tend to choose the grocer for jam; that is, between the wars of idealism and practicality, the latter often wins. Moreover, the fact that the goblin decided to ‘divide’ himself shows how most of us are compelled to make compromises and choose the middle path between what our heart desires and what the world wants us to do.

Note to Parents

The story of the Goblin and the Grocer is a classic fairytale that should be to all students, as it offers invaluable life lessons. In addition, it can also help young readers improve their grammar and vocabulary.

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FAQs on The Short Story of the Goblin and the Grocer in English for Kids

1. What is a goblin?

A goblin is a small, monstrous creature with magical abilities that appears in European folklore.

2. What is the grocer’s profession?

As the name suggests, the grocer was a businessman who owned a store.

3. Who was Garret?

Garret was the student who got the tattered book from the grocer, and gave up on cheese.


The story of the Goblin and the Grocer is a Danish fairytale illustrating the fascination of a goblin with a student’s tattered poetry book. Some of the objectives of the story are –

  •  Who is the goblin

  •  What sight did he see

  •  How are we often made to choose between our heart and mind