Bibliographic Information (best version for telling):

Wood, A. J. The Lion and the Mouse. Brookfield, CT: The Millbrook Press, 1995.

Ethnic Origin: Aesop fables come from ancient Greece.

Running Time: 3 to 4 minutes.

Power Center(s): The terror the mouse feels when he is caught by the lion and the hopelessness the lion feels when he is caught in the net.

Characters: Lion



    1. The lion asleep in the middle of the jungle
    2. The lion trapped in a net in the jungle.

Synopsis: The lion is asleep in the middle of the jungle and a mouse runs over his paw by accident. The lion wakes up when he feels the mouse on his paw and threatends to eat the mouse. The mouse begs for his life, saying that if the lion will free him the mouse will return the favor one day. The lion laughs at the idea that the mouse will be able to do something for him, but decides to let him go. Some time passes, and the mouse hears the lion roaring in the jungle. The mouse goes to see what has happened and finds the lion trapped in a net. The mouse sets to work chewing through the net and is able to free the lion.


Audience (why is this story appropriate for the audience? developmental characteristics?): According to Charlotte Huck, children this age have a short attention span so a short story with a lot of action is ideal. Erikson says that children in this age group are developing a sense of social responsibility. Preschoolers are being taught about helping others and this story is a good example of helping others and getting help in return when you least expect it.

Bibliographic information on other versions/variants (at least two):

Dolch, E. W., Doch, M. P, and Jackson, B. F. Aesop's Stories for Pleasure Reading. Urbana, IL: Pleasure Reading, 1951. "The Lion and the Slave". pg. 89-91.

Leaf, M. Aesop's Fables. New York: The Heritage Illustrated Bookshelf, 1941. "The Lion and the Mouse", pg. 24-25.

Brief comparison of all versions/variants in terms of language, rhythm, "tellability," "flavor," content, etc. Stress the differences in style rather than those of content.

The Wood version,  which is the one that I chose to use,  goes into a lot of detail and has some great language. The author describes the quiet of the forest by saying that nothing could be heard "but the butterflies that sometimes danced in the tree's cool shade." The author also describes the lion's paw as looking to the mouse like a "hill of golden sand." This was also the only version that tells the story from the perspective of both the lion and the mouse. The other versions all seemed to tell the story only from the mouse's perspective. This was also the longest verstin that I found. Most of the others were in compilations of Aesop's fables and they seemed to be trying to cram as many stories in as possible and were including very short versions.

The Leaf version of the story is very short, no more than a page and a half. The language seemed rather out dated and the version wasn't fun. There isn't enough detail in this version to really demonstrate how the characters feel. In this version, there was a whole group of mice who were playing around the lion, but the mouse of the story is the only one who is caught. There is no description of what became of the rest of the mice and the author doesn't describe either the mouse or the lion at all. While most children would be familiar with these two animals by the time they are this age, a description of what set this mouse and this lion apart from all the others would have added a lot to the story. I did find it interesting that the next story in this collection was a continuation of the story of the Lion and the Mouse. The second story is called "The Fatal Marriage" and in it the lion was so grateful to the mouse that the tells the mouse he can have anything he wants and the mouse asks the lion for his daughter's hand in marriage. The lioness is sent to marry the mouse and she gets so excited when she sees him that she accidentally steps on him and crushes him.

The Dolch story is a variant. I don't remember ever having heard this story before, but what I found interesting was that I remembered and someone else I talked to remember having heard a variant that combined the two stories and had a mouse removing a thorn from a lion's paw. In the slave story, the slave has run away from his master and meets a lion along the way who has a thorn in his paw. The slave removes the thorn and the lion run off. The slave is then captured and the king decides to put him to death by feeding him to the lions. The slave is let loose in the arena and the lion is released. The lion runs up to the slave and begins licking his feet. The king upon hearing the story says that the slave should be let go because of his bravery and the lion should be let go for not forgetting a friend. I felt this was very unrealistic and ruined the story