Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Scythe, a Rooster, and a Cat

Janina Domanska 1981

We are very partial to folk tales here and the Russian ones seem to be the best. Of course everything in folk and fairy tales happen in threes. There are three brothers, each given a gift when their father dies. They leave home to seek their fortune and come upon three different villages with very silly inhabitants. In the end they “married, had children, and never knew what hunger meant.” Which is as happy an ending as these stories get.

The illustrations look almost like woodcuts and have a distinct folk art feel.

Vasily took the scythe and set out in search of work.  After a time he came to a village surrounded by fields of clover.  It was harvest time and the villagers were gathering the clover by hand.  When they saw the stranger carrying an odd-looking blade attached to a pole, they were frightened.  They had never before seen a scythe.

As Nikolai came up to the bonfire, his rooster suddenly crowed, "Cock-a-doodle-doo!"
"What's all this noise?"  the people asked.
Nikolai saw that the sun was just coming up over the mountain.  "My rooster is calling the sun up for you," he said.

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