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How the Whale Became and Other Stories by…

How the Whale Became and Other Stories (1963)

by Ted Hughes

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1593113,462 (3.67)3

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Hughes turns his hand to writing origin stories for animals. I feel like I should have liked this one more than I did. Then again, nope. I liked it just the right amount, regardless of its author, and honestly, I've read much better animal myths. ( )
  electrascaife | Apr 19, 2019 |
It's admittedly hard to read Ted Hughes' How the Whale Became and Other Stories and not think of the animal tales in Kipling's Just So Stories. The tales within are, quite obviously, much of the same type: a short tale providing a fantastical explanation of why a certain type of animal is how it is or does what it does.

This comparison is both to Whale's advantage and detriment. The detriment is that Hughes, though the far better poet, oddly doesn't have quite the same sense rhythm as Kipling when it comes to prose. There's no line here as evocative as The Elephant's Child's "great grey-green greasy Limpopo" or The Sing-Song of Old Man Kangaroo's repetitive gallop of "Yellow-Dog Dingo".

On the other hand, even the most ardent admirer of Kipling's work has to admit that the non-animal stories drag and pale in comparison, and that's where Whale has the better. The stories in here are far more consistent than Kipling's — never quite the same highs, but likewise never approaching the lows. ( )
  g026r | Feb 3, 2011 |
Ted Hughes' How The Whale Became: And Other Stories is collection of eleven interesting and unique short stories about how eleven animals became what they are today. This book was inspired by Hughes own children. To be perfectly honest I read the first story "Why the Owl Behaves As It Does" in this book and debated whether or not to check it out but then I read that Ted Hughes was the husband of Sylvia Plath and I became intrigued to see what his writing was like.

This is a truly stunning collection of imagination and humor. Each story is wonderful and takes a rather unexpected turn. The stories include how the whale actually sprouted in God's garden and had to be pushed into the sea because he became too big. Then there is the story of Hyena who wants to be a Leopard, later the reader is told why bees are always around flowers and looking for nectar. Then is the story about how the donkey who wanted to be a lionocerangoutangading. And the book ends on "How the Elephant Became" which is very touching at the end with all the creatures of the forests agreeing that "We would make him our king if we could get him to wear a crown" (p.94)

This book takes a very different look at the creation of a few different animals and should no be missed by any child as they will find it a delight. ( )
  mberg | Oct 16, 2010 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hughes, Tedprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Morris, JackieIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Scholten, RobTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Weve, SylviaIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Long ago when the world was brand new, before animals or birds, the sun rose into the sky and brought the first day.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Long ago when the world was brand new, the sun rose into the sky and brought the first day. Then, from every side, from under leaves and from behind rocks, creatures began to appear. To begin with, all the creatures were rather alike - they had no idea what they were going to become.
All these stories are beautifully told by one of our leading poets, Ted Hughes.
The becomings of the owl, whale, fox, polar bear, hyena, tortoise, bee, cat, donkey, hare and elephant.
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A collection of creation stories explaining why owls hunt at night, why the dog was chosen to guard farm animals, why polar bears live at the North Pole, and how the elephant came to accept its unique and wonderful qualities.

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