“The Shepherd’s Boy”, in Time for Fairy Tales Old and New, May Hill Arbuthnot, compiler. Chicago: Scott Foresman, 1952, p. 205.
Ethnic origin: Mediterranean (Aesop)
Running time: 5 minutes
Loneliness of boy with sheep;
Villager’s fear of wolves attacking sheep;
Boy’s power over villagers in making them come to the meadow;
Boy’s fear when wolf does come and villagers don’t.
Characters: Shepherd boy, villagers, sheep, wolf
Scenes: Mountain meadow, dark forests surround, with village below;
Boy becomes lonely;
Calling wolf twice for fun;
Wolf does come but villagers do not;
Lesson learned about calling wolf.
Synopsis: a shepherd boy is watching the village’s sheep in a mountain meadow above the
village; he gets lonely and calls “wolf” to get villagers to see him; villagers drop what they are doing to come to his aid and are angry when there is no wolf; the boy does it again; the wolf does come, the boy cries for help but none comes because the villagers do not believe him; learns a liar won’t be believed even when he tells the truth.
Rhymes, special flavor: crying “wolf” three times
Audience and characteristics: 3 – 6 year-olds
Huck: judgments of right and wrong, assertion of independence (shepherd boy misuses his power but makes a decision)
Piaget: repetition in boy crying “wolf”, experience and information
Erikson: ambition, social responsibility (watching villagers’ sheep), roles and institutions of society (peoples’s jobs, helping others, being truthful)
Preschool children need tales with gentle morals so they can sort out right from wrong without
a stern lecture. Learning to use the power to get help when needed and not to call when
there is nothing wrong is an important lesson.
“The Shepherd’s Boy” in A Hundred Fables of Aesop. Sir Roger L’Estrange.
Hertfordshire: Omega Books, 1984, p. 86.
“The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf” in Favorite Stories Old and New. Sidonie Gruenberg.
Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Doran & Co., 1942, p. 287 – 88.
“The Shepherd’s Boy” in Fairy Tales Old and New. May Hill Arbuthnot, compiler.
Chicago: Scott Foresman, 1952, p. 205.
“The Boy Who Cried Wolf” in Aesop’s Fables. Tom Paxton, reteller. New York:
Morrow Junior Books, 1988, p. (28).
Comparison of versions:
The versions are essentially the same in terms of their content. The L’Estrange version is a bare-bones telling, using language and grammar from the early 19th century. Here the boy cries out not three times but ‘so many times in jest’ that the villagers don’t believe him. The language used in the moral makes it nearly incomprehensible. The Arbuthnot version is readable with clear actions and consequences and the moral is clearly defined. It takes two paragraphs on the page. The Gruenberg version present more of a complete story on 1 ¾ pages and rounds the characters more. The moral must be derived from the story since it is not given separately at the end. The Paxton version is the most different ; it is written in rhyme instead of prose. The characters are there but not rounded and the moral refers to not crying wolf instead of learning that a liar will not be believed.