• An Illustrated Collection of Nordic Animal Tales

    by  • 8 February 2024 • Children's Books, Extract • 0 Comments

    An Illustrated Collection of Nordic Animal Tales by Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin, is a charming exploration into the tradition and magic of Nordic culture. Classic characters of Finnish folklore; the cunning Fox, gullible Wolf and great Bear, star in these lively stories of mischief and fun, for readers of all ages.

    In the chapter below, the sly Fox and sticky beaked Raven go head to head in a battle of wits for some of Mrs Metsola’s delicious cheese. The extract is a prime example of Pirkko-Liisa Surojegin’s colourful characterful portrayals of the creatures and landscapes of Finland.

    Raven, Fox and the Cheese

    Mrs Metsola had spent all morning making a big cheese. She carried it outside on a board, which she slid between the wooden slats at the corner of the house, and left the cheese there to dry in the sun, where she could come and check on it while going about her other tasks on the farm. A raven flying past noticed this and advised her slyly, “Good Mistress, place a scythe on top of the cheese or a crow could come and steal it. I wouldn’t trust one not to whip it away when your back is turned.”

    Mrs Metsola knew all too well crows’ reputation as thieves, and so this struck her as good advice. Off she went to get a scythe from the barn. As soon as she left, the cunning raven snatched the cheese and flew quickly into the woods to rest upon a branch of a tall spruce and enjoy it.

    Ever watchful and on the hunt for an easy meal, Fox saw the raven’s flight and sped to the spruce where the bird was sitting with his cheese. The fox realised right away that the raven was watching him, so he stopped, pretending to be stunned, and gaped up admiringly at the bird. As if talking to himself, he murmured, “My, what a gorgeous bird that raven is. As splendid as a rainbow, as dazzling as a peacock!” 

    At this the raven swelled with pleasure and pride. Then the fox changed tone and lamented sorrowfully, “What a shame that he has no singing voice, though. His awful cawing is even uglier than a bear’s bawling!”

    The raven was shocked. Fox continued craftily, “If I knew he did have a singing voice, I’d let him lead the forest choir, but what can one do?”

    Now the raven was outraged. “How dare you!” he burst out. “I’ll have you know that I have a lovely voice!” Of course, the moment he opened his beak, the cheese fell and dropped down from the high branch into the wide-open mouth of the fox at the foot of the tree. 

    “Many thanks for breakfast,” said Fox between mouthfuls of creamy cheese. “It’s delicious!” 
    Ashamed and embarrassed, the raven sat on his branch regretting his foolishness as well as his lost meal, and Fox trotted off in a very good mood indeed.

    Continue the story in An Illustrated Collection of Nordic Animal Tales.

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