Wednesday, August 3, 2011


William Stobbs ~ Follett, 1968

I don't think I've ever heard as unhappy an ending to the "sky is falling" tale as this one. You all know Henny Penny, right? She gets whacked on the head with an acorn, apple, etc. and thinks the sky is falling and runs to warn the king. Along the way, she so scares the Dickens out of a mess of barnyard fowl that, one by one, they join her in her quest to warn the king.

By and by, the duck/ rooster/ goose/ turkey/ hen combo meets a "kindly" fox/wolf who offers them shelter and/or a short cut. Now, sometimes in the story, all the animals escape and all's well that ends well, right? And in other versions, all the animals get eaten and punished for their flock mentality.

Here, it's a fox who tricks them into a cave and upon blocking their escape, he kills each bird, one by one, until...

Then Cocky-Locky strutted down into the cave, and he hadn't gone far when "Snap, Hrump!" went Foxy-woxy, and Cocky-locky was thrown alongside of Turkey-lurkey, Goosey-poosey, and Ducky-daddles.

(now, here comes the rub...)

But Foxy-woxy had made two bites at Cocky-locky, and when the first snap only hurt Cocky-locky, but didn't kill him, he called to Henny-penny. But she turned tail and off she ran home, so she never told the king the sky was falling.

And guess what?

That's the end, folks. In the next spread, little 'ole Henny is seen eating worms in the pasture, safe at home. So the moral is... no matter what sort of ill-conceived, half-baked scheme you get your friends into, you can always throw them under the bus at the last minute and end up on top? Oh well, Stobbs' illustrations are so full of color and awesome (check these chicken pictures) that you can always talk your way around the flimsy ethics.


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Ariel S. Winter said...

That is the traditional ending, and it was used as recently as last year's "Yummy" by Lucy Cousins. I feel like we have a bunch of other versions with that ending as well. I see your criticism as far as one possible moral goes, although perhaps the real lesson is to not go along with the crowd without thinking critically about the crowd's message.

Melissa@Julias Bookbag said...

AWE-some! Love it. Nothing like a little self preservation at the expense of others between friends....:) Great illustrations!

Burgin Streetman said...

Ahh... Ariel... always the voice of historic reason! Thanks for keeping me honest.

Max said...

Great ending there, even darker than the 'they all die' ending, and it's only fair the fox gets a hapy ending sometimes!

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