The Cat, the Rooster, and the Young Mouse from Aesop’s Fables

Letter C (A to Z April 2019 Challenge)

I am using two books for comparison as I share opinions or impressions of Aesop’s Fables.  The first is Aesop’s Favorite Fables Children’s Classic Collection, illustrated by Milo Winter and was first published in 1919.  The illustrations and moral teachings are certainly consistent with that era. The “Great War,” WW1 had just ended and the ongoing issues at the time in this country include such things as “the Prohibition,” “Red Scare,” woman’s suffrage, worker strikes, and race riots.

The second book I’m using is Aesop’s Fable, illustrated by Caldecott Honor winner, Jerry Pinkney and published in  2000. I borrowed the book from the public library because of the illustrations. Although the pictures are less in Pinkney’s book, I find them pleasing to look at for children and adults alike. The language is simple and more in accord with the way I speak. The moral of the story is presented closer to reflecting my personal view.  I find it a more positive and empowering message. I will use some of the illustrations from these books throughout the challenge.

Today I’m sharing a story I was not familiar with, but I find it amusing and certainly reflects a lesson in life that I learned long ago.

“APPEARANCES  CAN BE DECEIVING. “ Jerry Pinkney (2000)

It seems a young mouse was beginning to get restless about getting out of the mouse den and seeing the world. He urged his mother to let him go out independently to explore and have an adventure.  The wise mother agreed but told him he couldn’t stay away long. She instructed that when he was out and about to pay attention so that he could tell her everything he saw.

A short while after, the young mouse came running back as quick as his little legs could carry him and shaking in terror. “ Oh, Mother! There are strange things out there! I was enjoying the pleasant walk when I came across a beautiful creature with a thick golden fur coat and bright, shining eyes. She seemed so kind and gentle as she lay quietly in the grass. When she saw me, she waved her long fluffy tail and smiled.  I would have gone over to speak to her and make her acquaintance, but out of nowhere came the most frightening beast!  He was tall and loud with red meat hanging from his chin and on his head.  The creature frantically tore at the ground with clawed feet, and when he saw me, he beat his arms hysterically at his side and shrieked ‘Cock-a-doodle-do!’  I was so frightened; I came home as fast as I could!”

“My dear son,” said the mother, “that beautiful, kind and gentle creature that you speak of is a cat. Cats would like to have young mice like you for dinner.  The terrible monster you describe is but a rooster that prefers seeds or grains and small things he finds in the grass. He would certainly not come after you. Be thankful that you escaped with your life.  Next time you when you go away, be more careful and remember, never judge others by their looks.”

How many times do we fall into that way of thinking?  If we are honest, we must admit that we all have our biases and prejudices.  I am reminded to “not judge a book by its cover.”  I try to trust my gut and give others the benefit of the doubt.  It’s a belief that is not 100% foolproof but for the most part, it has served me well.

#AtoZChallenge #April 2019

cat_cock_mouse by Milo Winter

Illustration by Milo Winter (1919)

Belling the Cat from Aesop’s Fables

Letter B ( A to Z Challenge April 2019)

Through the years, the story of Belling the Cat like many of Aesop’s fables has been re-written and adapted to different cultures and social norms of the moment.  It is a simple story of a community of mice coming together to solve a common problem, a CAT!

The mice held a meeting and complained that it was impossible for them to go about their day peacefully with the threat of the big cat springing on them unexpectedly.  As I am not an expert on mice culture and certainly not one to sit and observe mice,  I suppose a family of mice would pursue happiness by being involved in activities such as building nests and gathering food.

In any event, the mice mulled over the fact that each time as they went about their business, the cat, being a hunter by nature, would do what cats do.  He would bring his long sleek body close to the ground and with padded feet, quietly sneak up on them; He would pounce on one unlucky victim and capture it within his sharp claws.  The other mice would scatter and run as fast as their little feet could carry them, knowing that they would never see their friend again.

The deliberations went on for hours.  There was much arguing about what to do with this cat that was disrupting their lives and threatening their very existence. Ideas came and went, and finally, a very young mouse said: “it’s very simple really, hang a bell around its neck so that we can hear him coming and run for shelter before he grabs someone.”

“What a great idea! An amazing plan.” An elderly mouse who had not spoken before said, “I’m glad we all agree. Now my friends, who will have the courage to step forward to do it?” There was silence, and soon there was the shuffling of hundreds of little feet.  It seemed that when looking for volunteers, they all took one step backward and the deliberation continued.

“Brave words are easier than brave deeds.” Aesop’s Fables by Jerry Pinkey

Have you ever been to a planning meeting at work, school or church and found yourself in a similar situation?  Most times the issue is not anything dangerous, just time-consuming or merely new.  There have been group meetings where we’ve pondered options that seem good in theory, but no one was willing to put into action.

It always amazes me that Aesop’s stories are still relevant today.  We have come a long way and have developed many great projects and ideas, but over the centuries our nature remains the same.

If Aesop were telling this story today, he would probably say: “ All talk and no action leaves us in the same predicament.”  Don’t you agree? `Belling the Cat by Jerry Pinkney

#AtoZChallenge #April 2019

Another year with A to Z Challenge

Aesop’s Fables for Our Times.

clip art
the grasshopper and the ant (clipart)

A year ago I participated in the A to Z April 2018 writing challenge.  I had read about it on a blog that I follow, and it seemed like a perfect opportunity for me to commit to writing every day.   I was too late to register for the official challenge or develop a theme, but none the less, I participated by sharing mental snapshots forged in my memories and used the letter of the day for my title or opening sentence.

I promised myself that the following year, 2019, I would be prepared with a theme and even planned to write some posts beforehand so that I would not feel so overwhelmed or pressured to write posts daily for 26 days. Life became somewhat complicated as the year passsed and my best intentions did not get me very far.  

I do have a theme; however, it is Life Lessons with a Parable-A-Day. The idea for came about as I reviewed and revised some of my writing.  I noticed that most of my blog posts share a memory and a life-lesson or a philosophy of life that I have as a result of my experiences. Sometimes my thoughts may seem cliché while others are a new take on a common belief. 

Aesop’s fables have been a favorite collection of mine since I was a child. An elderly neighbor gave my mother a few vinyl Disney albums with music and stories that had belonged to her children.  We played them over and over.  Through the years, I’ve remembered stories especially the catchy tune “The world owes me a living, which ends with “I owe the world a living.” 

My beginning post reminds me that we can count our blessings, but the world does not owe us a living.  If we are able-bodied, we must work and strive for our own happiness and personal fulfillment.  I’m not necessarily talking about money or status; I’m talking about taking personal responsibility for our lives, including reaching out for help when we need it. 

Hope you can enjoy this old Disney cartoon that I’ve included.  It’s funny to see how far they have come with animation.  Please come back and share your own favorite fables and life lessons.  

 
#AtoZ Challenge  #letter A