hawk's review of How the Whale Became and Other Stories (2024)

** spoiler alert ** I enjoyed this collection of creative creation short stories, by Ted Hughes πŸ™‚

spoilers abound if you read on....


πŸ¦‰ Why the Owl Behaves as it does.
Owl somehow tricks the other birds that they've gone somewhere else and turns the day and night patterns around. and eats the other birds in the dark! 😯 the birds have had enough and decide to die all together! but opening their eyes in the 'night' does not kill them (as Owl has told them), cos it's just day πŸ™‚


πŸ‹ How the Whale Became.
God spots something odd growing in his garden πŸ˜‰ it announces it's Whalewort πŸ˜‰ it gets so big that God and the creatures tug it into the sea! God pokes a hole in the top of Whale, so he can try to blow himself smaller thru it... but each time he goes to sleep at the bottom of the sea he grows big again πŸ˜†


🦊 How the Fox Came to be where it is.
two similar, rival, creatures - one rusty red (sly looking) and the other black and white (four square) - who both want the job of guarding man's cabbages πŸ˜† the hens are to make the decision... (but sly looking eats them! with the unwitting help of rabbit! 🐰). o, this takes a clever turn πŸ˜‰ "snuppety snippety snoopety snap!" πŸ˜‰


πŸ»β€β„οΈ How the Polar Bear Became.
the animals admiring each other, and holding beauty contests πŸ˜† Polar Bear usually wins. she says she'd look even better somewhere that wasn't so dirty. Peregrine Falcon, often runner up, tells Polar Bear where such a place exists (he's flown to every country)... Whale takes them on his back πŸ™‚ the seals, her admirers, go with her πŸ˜‰


πŸ• How the Hyena Became.
copied Leopard becomer... and awoke to find his skin covered in spots! the Wild Dogs started to be wary of him. never to become a Leopard, but also not a Wild Dog anymore. became Leopard follower...


🐒 How the Tortoise Became.
Torto gets made without a skin! makes him very fast, but all the other animals shun him. so he eventually accepts a skin from God... so long as its one he can take on and off πŸ˜‰ he gets so into wearing his skin, that then can't take it off to race...


🐝 How the Bee Became.
Demon is watching God make all the creatures, and tries to do the same... tho struggles to make clay with the powder of jewels, cos he needs to cry to produce tears to wet it. bakes it in the fire of his eye over thousands of years... flatters God into breathing life into it.
the bee was sad cos he'd been made from a tear, so keeps going from flower to flower for the sweetness πŸ˜‰πŸ˜


🐈 How the Cat Became.
different from the others... lives in a tree, from which terrible sounds come... from his violin! the creatures decide Cat should take a job, rather than just sit around... he catches rats and mice on farms... tho also still plays violin with the other cats.


🐴 How the Donkey Became.
a creature that doesn't stay the same - wanted to be all creatures and practised each of them. some fun names for his combinations πŸ™‚ but wasn't any one of them long enough to earn his living as one, and begged for food from the other animals. one day he helps man to turn the well, and gets a job doing that in return for food and accommodation in a cosy little shed. works for longer and longer for twice as much food... after which he sleeps, and doesn't have time to practice his creatures. began to practice in his head instead, while he's walking round the well.
one day lion comes to eat man's family. donkey taunts Lion and shows him how to Lion, tho while he's Lion in his head he just looks like he's kicking and braying. after that he faces the truth, that he's "a well fed, comfortable, hard working donkey" πŸ™‚


πŸ‡ How the Hare Became.
Hare was a dandy πŸ˜‰ Gazelle tells him the moon wants to marry him... Hare tries to meet up with her, but she keeps moving whenever he gets to where she used to be. endlessly gazing at the moon changed how his eyes looked, and he got long legs from running after her, and long ears from listening.


🐘 How the Elephant Became.
Bombo was the unhappiest of the creatures - he didn't know what he wanted to be. the other animals tell him to 'be himself' when he tries and fails to become them. he was bigger than all the other creatures, and had great ears and a long long nose... the other animals laughed at him.
Buffalo charges past with his family, off to drink. Bombo has a think about what he can do that's different to all the other creatures.
he does some headstand like tricks but all the other animals laugh at him, so he goes to live alone on an island.
one day a forest fire... all the other animals run from it til they reach the river... "we must drown or burn, goodbye brothers and sisters". it seemed like the end of the animals.
some great descriptions of who is sitting on who.
Bombo wades across and picks up all the animals and carries them across to the island on his back. but sparks follow them and sets the trees alight... Bombo uproots the trees with his tusks and throws them in the river, and the animals can tramp out the rest.
the next day Bombo is gone, and to this day he's hard to find... πŸ™‚



the tales are quite disturbing on some level... but also generally turn out OK in the end πŸ˜‰ quite inventive, playing with ideas. carry alot of normative attitudes found of time and place, and kinda interesting in how it exposes them.


accessed as an RNIB talking book, very well read by Robin Holmes πŸ™‚


hawk's review of How the Whale Became and Other Stories (2024)
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