Tag Archives: fairy tales

The Woman, the Chicken and the Grapes

folk tales from frankston

The woman, the chicken and the grapes

There were once a woman and her son who loved chickens.

One day the woman looked at the grapes in her fridge and decided that they were no longer appetising enough for her family to eat. So she and her son took some of the grapes out to feed to the chickens in the garden.

Because the garden was on a steep slope with a hard driveway running through it, the grapes were inclined to roll and the woman and her son laughed in delight to see the chickens run up and down the hill chasing the grapes and one another.

grapes to chickens

But after a short while, the woman noticed that one of the chickens was standing still and jerking its head in an uncomfortable manner. And although her son laughed to see the chicken dancing, the woman saw that this was because the chicken was trying to dislodge a grape that was stuck in its throat.

The boy picked up the chicken and saw that foam was accumulating in its throat as it struggled to breathe. The woman took the chicken and tried to reach a finger down its throat to retrieve the grape. But the throat was too long and too narrow. Then she saw that the bird’s comb was turning blue and that it would soon die if she could not clear its airway. So she gently but firmly blew once down the bird’s throat.

Although this inflated the chicken momentarily in quite a surprising way, it did not dislodge the grape and the boy began to cry. Then the woman in desperation, felt amongst the feathers on the front of the chicken’s neck. She found to her surprise that the grape was very easily detected and she quickly pushed the round lump upwards into the bird’s mouth and out onto the ground where she stamped it flat before another chicken could take it.

The bird began to breathe again and sat contentedly in the woman’s arms as she comforted the boy. Soon the boy stopped crying, and the chicken began scratching around the garden with the others as before.

The next day, the woman saw the remaining grapes in her fridge, which were not good enough for the family to eat, but yet not poor enough to throw onto the compost heap and she said to herself. ‘I will not make the same mistake again. This time I will cut up the grapes so that they do not stick in the chicken’s throat.’ And she pulled out a large chopping board and a very sharp knife and began to slice the grapes.

But the grapes began to roll about the board, and the woman was hard put to cut them without losing them onto the floor. So she held each grape closely and cut them individually saying to herself, ‘a job worth doing is worth doing well’. But holding one grape a little too closely, she accidentally cut off the very tip of her finger and she bled and bled.

The chickens did not mind the blood, nor the tip of the finger. Not a single chicken choked on a grape and there were three eggs in the nesting box that day, each with a yolk as round and yellow as the sun.

Puppet Challenged

Hooray! I’m very excited to be participating in the Puppet Challenge, an on-line puppet exhibition scheduled for June 2014. Check out Clive Hicks-Jenkins’ Artlog to see some fabulous posts about puppetry and art. The theme for the puppet challenge is Folk tales, fairy tales, myths and legends. It has been suggested by Peter Slight (curator of the on-line exhibition) that we might like to consider local folk tales or mythology.

The topic ‘local folktales’ in Australia has a very different meaning from local folktales in Europe. Most white Australians of course share the European folktales via their ancestry, but the tales can no longer be called local. Black Australians have a rich array of tales and mythology, but it’s not my culture to intrude upon. So my mind tosses around two possibilities.

The first, find my theme around the topic of river crossings (such as the Three Billy Goats Gruff) because I live in Mordialloc, named after its creek. ‘The name Mordialloc is a corruption of two aboriginal words Murdi or Moordi and Yallock, the latter meaning creek or stream.’ (From the City of Kingston’s historical website).

Or the second, go with an Australian fairy tale. One of my favourite books is Alan Marshall’s fairy tale ‘Whispering in the Wind’ which features a bunyip in place of a dragon and a magical grey kangaroo with a bottomless pouch, so I am leaning in this direction. It offers a lot of possibilities. There is also a wonderful scene fairly early on in the book, featuring the hero and his horse meeting Greyfur the kangaroo for the first time, and it occurs on the banks of a creek, so perhaps this would be a good option… although the bunyip who appears later on is very tempting… He snorts water out of his nostrils, a trick he learned while at Dragon Training School with all the fire-breathing dragons.

Decision-making is not my strong point with regard to artistic pursuits. So many wonderful options, so little time! I’m wondering how I’ll go about deciding on a medium for my puppet, once I’ve decided on the character. Perhaps it will be determined by my limitations. I’ll rule out all forms of puppetry that are beyond my technical ability and what is left after that will be my medium!

Here is Whispering in the Wind by Alan Marshall.

Cover of 1969 hardback edition illustrated by Jack Newnham

Cover of 1969 hardback edition illustrated by Jack Newnham

Hairy beasties at the SUNDAY opening Vinnies at Edithvale

Dexter has been feeling cold at night. All of the old bed jackets I made for him have met with mysterious (or not mysterious) ends, and now the nights have turned cold and he’s an old boy. So yesterday I ventured forth to Edithvale where I had been told there is an oppy that opens on Sundays (!) in search of a blanket for making a new jacket.

No blankets. Can you believe it? I guess I wasn’t the only one who noticed the cold.

Not to be daunted, I bought a kids’ zip fronted windcheater and put my imagination, cataclysmic sewing unskills and solitary pin to good use. It looks great! From a distance.


Dexter in Piping Hot


But before I left the oppy I did a quick trawl of the book shelves.

How could I resist this?


If I was in any doubt, Emily (whoever she was she had good taste I’m sure) told me in blue texta on the half title page that this book is:


Within were many hairy beasties – foxes, wolves and trolls along with the human variety.


I don’t like your chances Gingerbread Boy.


Nor yours, Henny Penny. Make like a chicken, girl!



This beast is a relative of one of John Burningham’s I think. His paws show the family likeness.


No self respecting billy goat is daunted by one such as this.


Heavens! Look out Granny! This looks most uncomfortable.

Meanwhile my own little beasty Dexter, is enjoying an afternoon by the heater because it’s cold and raining outside. So far the ‘new’ jacket hasn’t fallen apart so he’ll be warm again tonight. (Note to self: I really must buy some more pins. And replace the broken sewing machine needles ;-)

Temptation at the Parkdale Primary School Fair

Parkdale PS fete book stall

Ahhhh me! How did I cope with temptation like this at Parkdale PS fair’s book stall?

Not too badly I think… I bought a pile of books merely 31cm high; a little over twelve inches for those of you not in the metric way. (Oh and two cakes. An obscene chocolate one with smarties on the top – described as ‘hefty’ by the stall-holder as she lifted it, and chosen by Hugo who is eight years old and loves chocolate. And a very sensible and delicious lemon one, dripping with lemon syrup… also slightly hefty for its size it must be admitted and chosen by lemon-loving me. Cake stalls can be tempting too.)

But back to the books! If you consider the quantity of books on offer, it must be seen that I gallantly resisted many of them! Here is one I resisted only because I already have a copy (recommended) but I photographed it for the great vintage cover. The Giant Under the Snow by John Gordon. This story lingers in my head for its magical scenes including a wonderful episode of magical flying. What greater temptation for the child’s imagination?

The Giant under the Snow

Here’s one I couldn’t resist (because of the great vintage cover) Normally I don’t collect 1970s books, as it’s a little later than my area of interest, but this one was so different from the style I usually associate with Gerald Durrell, that I made an exception for its fantastical, jewel-like cover design. (Also, 9 year old Arthur is animal mad and will probably get into Durrell at some stage.)

Gerald Durrell the Talking Parcel

Actually, from a quick search of the internet it would appear that Durrell’s books have taken on many differing styles over the years. His image is anything but branded. See the below thumbnails for examples.

catch me durrell selection fillets of place my family mid 20th century my family overloaded ark

Here was a mis-matched pared-back pair of Chatterleys that I resisted. Lady Chatterley herself didn’t resist temptation, but I don’t blame her for that. The Phoenix was an interesting choice of motif for this book. The ‘unexpurgated’ edition, probably from the 70s, is a little more obvious.

Lady Chatterley unmatching pair

But I couldn’t resist this luridly tempting classic, which I haven’t yet read.

Blue Vile Bodies

What next? I found a bit of fodder for my current fairy tale binge. A copy of New Tales from Grimm. I’ll admit I’m not even trying to resist fairy tales at the moment. I’m a glutton for the temptation of poisoned apples and gingerbread roof tiles. (Although I’d pass on the little boy stew from ‘The Juniper Tree’ in Philip Pullman’s Grimm Tales for Young and Old, my current bedtime reading.)

The endpapers on this copy were more exciting than the cover which was lacking its dust jacket. But the internal illustrations were elegant. ‘Hurleburlebutz’ What a great name for a tale! (or a chicken?)

Grimm endpapers Hurleburlebutz

Nor could I resist this paperback copy of The Sword in the Stone by T H White. Scott and I were reading this series aloud to each other during my pregnancy with Arthur (hence his name) but our copy is a weighty tome. This one is quite appealing, and the cover illustration of Arthur (‘The Wart’) looks rather like our long-haired lad at the moment… If you’re wondering how I can tie in temptation for this one, I’ve got one word for you. Guinevere :-)

Sword in the Stone

As I was heading for the door with my armful of books, ready to make my escape, I spotted one more and went back to pay for it. The Book of Cats, (View Productions 1985). The books suffers from a clumsy cover design. But the few internal illustrations are great and made it worthwhile to purchase, especially as there is now a disgruntled black cat in Thunderstorm Dancing. 

I can’t tie in my cat book with temptation, so I’m going into the kitchen to eat some blue cheese. Catch you later!

book of cats cover

book of cats internal book of cats internal 1 book of cats internal 2