Category Archives: Reading

Reading Notes: More Jataka Tales, Part A

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I read a different version of Jataka Tales written by Ellen Babbitt earlier in the semester. I really enjoy the use of illustration in her pieces signifying an illustrator, and I enjoy the retelling of Jataka stories.

In The Monkey and the String of Pearls, I found it an interesting point that the string of pears were such a treasure. They were so highly treasured that a servant kept eyes on the jewellery box. As soon as the servant fell asleep the monkey was quick to grab the string of pearls and hide them. As soon as the servant awoke, she found the string of pearls had been stolen, screamed it, and guards showed up everywhere. Again, these pearls were so treasured. The king ordered them to immediately discover who stole the beads, and I thought it was very interesting how they did so. I feel like in real life, this definitely wouldn’t have worked out to where the plan identifies the thief, and I could create a modern approach to this story. Better yet, I could tell this story from the Girl monkey who stole the pearls point of view. One thing I’ve noticed is there’s always many Jataka tales involving monkeys!

Another story I really enjoyed and would like to recreate is the Red-Bud Tree. I thought this tale was different from the general tales here, and I enjoyed the differences. Since the four princes saw the red-bud tree at different times of the year it looked different to each of them. Only one lucky son actually saw the red buds on the tree, so the rest of them thought it was a phony. Interestingly, they didn’t realize that different seasons mean different actions and looks for trees. This reminds me though of how people can all be looking at the same thing, but they interpret it differently. If I were to re-write this story, I could use that as the main point. I do like this tale though, and I could even just give more detail and have the same storyline as this one.

More Jataka Tales by Ellen Babbitt. 1922.

Image One: Brown Spider Monkey found on Wikipedia.

Reading Notes: The Giant Crab, and Other Tales from Old India, Part A

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First of all, I adore all of the illustrations in this book. It was so hard to pick a picture for my post, because I love all of the images. Based on the year this book was written, 1897, I was expecting something totally different. I guess I was expecting the language to be hard to understand, but this felt like a modern read to me, easy to understand and dialogue galore. The stories were all so cute, I had a hard time choosing a few to really think about rewriting a story to. The Hypocritical Cat was one of my favorites, and I enjoyed the great amount of dialogue involved. The story had a huge plot twist, like who would think the rats would end up killing the cat? I didn’t like that the cat was killed, so I could change this story to where the rats all stand together and fight for change some how. Instead of killing the cat, they could offer the cat some delicious cat food that they find on their scrummages? There are so many different ways I could change this story to where the meaning is the same but the cat doesn’t have to die.

Another story I really enjoyed and would like to create my own story over is The Wise Parrot and the Foolish Parrot. I definitely got a kick out of the parrot names, Beaky and Tweaky. I think it would be fun to keep Beaky and Tweaky as the parrots and develop the owner more. When the owner leaves, Beaky and Tweaky could actually be watching the owner’s dog instead. It would be comical to have the dog doing silly things while the owner is gone and having Beaky and Tweaky as tattle tales to change up the story. I think the amount of dialogue in all of these stories is so useful. When I create my own, I will for sure include dialogue.

The Giant Crab, and Other Tales from Old India by W. H. D. Rouse and illustrations by W. Robinson in 1897.

Image One: Two parrots found on Flickr.

Reading Notes: Overview of Jataka Tales, Part B

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After the continuation of the book, I definitely think that many of these stories are harder to grasp than the more modern stories. Although they do contain a much more cultural background, which is cool, it just requires more google searches to understand some of the characters and what exactly is going on. I enjoyed most of the stories in this section, but some of them I was just confused about. Since my focus this week was to expand an original story giving it more depth, I tried to think of that while reading. One story that I just didn’t quite understand was The Foolish Friend. I think this is the main story that needs more development. Dialogue could definitely be of use in this story as well.

In The Foolish Friend, a mosquito was on the father carpenters head, stinging him. He asked the son to get it away, and that’s when the son told him to be very still, raised up an axe, and next thing you know the father was on the ground dead (Bodhisatta there). He apparently only had intentions of killing the mosquito from the father’s head. The overall meaning seems to resemble that friends with no sense are worse than enemies with sense. I do like how Bodhisatta talks in all of these stories. He’s basically always there, and he’s the voice of reason. He sums up the moral of each story, so I’d want to do the same approach.

I could create a story with two best friends in this same situation, Bodhisatta there witnessing. I would expand on the background of the story, giving each character personality and reason, as well as setting the scene. Instead of a mosquito annoying one of the friends, I’d use a spider or snake, something that modernly scare people much more. One best friend could try to save the other, but things could shift when the friend isn’t smart enough to realize the damage that whatever is decided will do to his best friend as well.

Jataka Tales by H.T. Francis and E.J. Thomas. 1916.

Image One: Hall Carpentry from Wikimedia Commons.

Reading Notes: Overview of Jataka Tales, Part A

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I chose the overview of jataka tales as my option for this weeks readings because once again, I really enjoy the jataka tales. I thought this one might be a little different based on the year it was written. I also thought this was a good option because it can accommodate for 6 weeks of reading. This gives me the option to stick with this book for the remaining 4 or so weeks of the semester, or the option to change to different reading if I don’t enjoy it as much. The one thing I didn’t like much is the lack of pictures. I enjoy when text (especially these tales) are accompanied by pictures (like in our posts). Granite, this was written in 1916, but any re-telling I do will obviously contain a picture as well!

As far as the reading goes, I think these versions contained a more cultural feel. In the first story, The Little Gildmaster, I thought the writers did a great job at keeping the cultural context alive. Many of these stories contain much more detail than the typical jataka tales I’ve been reading, but this book also contains some very short tales. My main goal for the next storytelling assignment is to expand and make one of the short tales into a longer, more meaningful tale. The Cold Half of the Month was a battle of it being cold between the lion and tiger living at the foot of the mountain. The Bodhisatta made peace between the friends, assuring them they were both right and the story was over. I could expand this story so much. I could give so many more descriptions about the lion and tiger, actually making them more into characters. The setting of a scene would also be nice, because in this tale they don’t really discuss the scenario or anything at all much.
I actually read the content for both part A and B last night, and I’m just now getting around to typing up the first note. I took notes on many great readings I found, but again, the goal I have is to expand one of theses stories to make it great, and The Cold Half of the Month leaves me so much room to expand!

Jataka Tales by H.T. Francis and E.J. Thomas. 1916.

Image One: Luke the Lion accessed from Flickr.

Reading Notes: Twenty Jataka Tales, Part B

I really wanted to finish the Twenty Jataka Tales this week, and since I missed the due date, I’m going to use this reading as my extra credit reading option. Once again, these have been my favorite readings in this class. I adore Jataka tales, and it’s wonderful to me that they use animals as the main characters.

I loved the little poem in The Patient Buffalo that the monkey said stating that he’s not afraid of the buffalo and the buffalo isn’t afraid of him. The buffalo was really my favorite character. This story reminded me of when children will poke and prod the parent to get what they want. The monkey got no reaction from the buffalo so he finally was sent away by the fairy. When children get no reaction from a joke or whatever, they typically tend to pipe down a bit. I just loved the buffalo’s attitude. He also reminded me of Eeyore. This could be re-written with Eeyore as the buffalo and maybe tigger as the monkey? The plot could be changed to where the fairy doesn’t send tigger away, but tigger could figure out the annoyance and fix it.

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The Great Elephant was another favorite of mine, mostly because I LOVE elephants. I was a bit confused at first when the elephant was telling the weak people that there was an elephant down there to eat. It all made sense when he crashed his body from the hill to the exact spot he spoke of an elephant being. The men were so thankful but at the same time they didn’t want to eat their very own friend. But they knew if they didn’t eat him, his sacrifice for them would’ve been all for nothing. The elephant gave his own life to save the hundreds of men lost in the desert. I could make my own story, but instead of the sacrifice being the elephant’s life, I could make it something less detrimental.

Image One: Elephant found on Wikimedia Commons.

Twenty Jataka Tales by Noor Inayat (Khan)

Reading Notes: Twenty Jataka Tales, Part A

For some reason, these Jataka tales as told by Inayat seemed more developed than the previous tales I’ve read. Many of these stories are so similar and just different versions of the other Jataka tales I’ve read. For that reason, I tried to find the ones that aren’t related and give me a whole new set of ideas.

My favorite of these first tales was The Guilty Dogs. Why? First of all, because it includes both of my favorite animals in it (horses & dogs). It also is so fitting! Young dogs especially could be suspicious for taking and eating something that is needed! When the guilty dogs destroyed the royal chariot equipment I thought it was so funny! Though obviously it wasn’t funny to the royalty since they ordered for all of the dogs to be killed (which made me furious at first). I liked the twist during the story that it was the royal dogs and they were after the city dogs. Come to find out, the royal dogs were the guilty ones. I could do so many different versions of this story. The dogs could go for a different activity and steal the harness and run around with the chariot instead of destroying it. That way, there would be no proof of who actually did it, and the king would just have to take the royal dog’s word for who did it.

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I found great joy in reading The Golden Feathers. I can just picture a fairy turning a father setting out to provide and find fortune for his family into a goose with gold feathers. I wondered what the wife and children were thinking about their husband/father never returning? I could tell this from the daughter’s point of view. The daughter could end up finding out that it was actually her dad flying and providing their fortune, and this could cause a change of events. I would still keep the story the same in relations that the father flies far away after being robbed and mistreated by his own wife, and when she finds out she has to live with that regret. It’s a life lesson that she had to find out the hard way, but I really want to provide a whole family reaction to the events.

Image One: Golden Goose accessed on Wikimedia Commons.

Twenty Jataka Tales by Noor Inayat (Khan)

Reading Notes: Jataka Tales, Part B

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Elephants make me so happy. When I was reading The Elephant Girly-Face, I just knew that it’d be a blast to rewrite this story! Girly-face is also just SUCH an interesting name… Especially for an elephant. They described this elephant as being such a kind elephant, never willing or wanting to hurt anyone or anything. When Girly-face heard the robbers preparing to break in and kill, giving her bad ideas and the temptation to turn bad. The only way to fix her killing rampage was to send good people with good word to talk around her. I just thought it was such an interesting plot! I could rewrite this and have her kill the actual robbers that turned her into a bad elephant for some time. After the death of the robbers, she could be counseled by her keepers and be good evermore.

Another idea could be to combine the previous story with The King’s White Elephant. He could turn good again after his father that had been treated nicely by carpenters came to visit. The king could still save the white elephant and pay the carpenters, but it would just be cool to have the story about both Girly-face and the white elephant together!

The Crab and the Crane sounds oh so familiar!

The crab in this story makes me so happy. The crane was so proud and felt so successful that he was able to trick all the fish, but the crane wasn’t going to let him live that way! I could really rewrite this story with different animal characters. Or… the characters could be the same animals with more personality. The storyline could change a bit, and the crab could actually bring the fish back to life that the evil crane killed? Somehow? I just really enjoy happy endings (especially for animals), so I don’t want the fish to all be dead from the evil animal.

Image One: The crane on Wikimedia Commons.

The Jatakas Tales of India written by Ellen Babbitt.

Reading Notes: Jataka Tales, Part A

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I really love the Jataka tales and the involvement with animals as main characters. For that reason, I’ll most likely be sticking to this category for most of the reading. The retelling of The Monkey and the Crocodile was so similar but different to the original one I read earlier in the year. It begins with the crocodile giving rhyme and reason to why her son was sent to retrieve the heart of a monkey. It makes me laugh that the crocodile was stupid enough to think that the monkey actually left his heart in the tree and took him back to get it and retrieve it for him after telling him he wanted the heart to eat. This story actually has a part 2 as well. I could continue my original story with Chester and Waylon. I ended the story with Waylon atop a stump in the large lake to confess of his sins and pray. A part 2 could go in many different directions. I would probably want to make a happy ending for both Chester and Waylon. The confessions and prayer could really heal Waylon. He could apologize to the other crocodile and become best friends with the crocodile’s. Who knows…

The Turtle who Couldn’t Stop Talking was also such a cute tale. I mean, I felt so bad for how the story ended with the turtle falling to his death because he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. Maybe I could have the turtle learn a lesson but live to tell about it. He could open his mouth, fall off of the stick, but be caught by a different animal. He would probably then hide in his shell until he realized what he had done wrong and learned how he could fix it. BUT, who wants the turtle to learn to stop talking so much by dying? Turtles are too cute to die!

Image One: Turtles and Geese on Wikimedia Commons

The Jatakas Tales of India written by Ellen Babbitt.

Reading Notes: The Five Tall Sons of Pandu, Part A

I got really excited to see this as a reading option this week because my storybook is about Nakula and Sahadeva as the main characters! Since I love these two characters, I already knew starting off that I’d want to write a story about them.
The sons of the new kings were just so jealous and filled with hate towards the 5 brothers, especially Duryodhan, while the Pandavas brothers felt not hate. This in itself could make an entire story. It’s just tricky because they are cousins. I could take a modern approach about jealousy and hatred. They are both horrible characteristics and personality traits, but it would be fun to place these same characters into modern world..

I also really loved the tournament scenes of the two cousins battling it out. The author did a fantastic job using imagery here, and I’d plan to do the same. Maybe Nakula and Sahadeva could compete in some modern tournament (such as boxing?) with the overly hateful and jealous cousin, Duryodhan. The tournament scene could end with something crazy happening instead of Drona ending the tournament before it continued to escalate. I couldn’t believe that Duryodhan felt so much hate towards the brothers that he felt it necessary to trap them into a burning house with their mother. I thought it was weird how they disguised as hermits, and I could also re-write this part of the story in a modern way. Duryodhan could try to burn the house when the whole family was there in order to get back at the brothers for hateful, jealous feelings toward them (haven’t decided why yet). Instead of escaping as hermits, they could escape on horseback, overtake Duryodhan and his brothers, and put Duryodhan in exile mocking him as he did to the brothers.

There were so many great scenes and awesome information in these sections that will help tremendously in my writing for the storybook collection. Although I only have notes for the beginning of the story, I’m impressed and interested in many other scenes from the differing sections. I can’t wait to read part B for extra credit since I was a little behind starting out this week!


The Indian Storybook: The Five Tall Sons of Pandu by Richard Wilson.

Image One: The five pandavas brothers accessed from Wikimedia Commons.

Reading Notes: Mahabharata, Part D

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All of the revenge and plots to seek revenge is crazy! Literally I feel like almost every character has “beef” with someone and wants revenge on someone. The revenge then leads to more problems and more people seeking revenge. The way in which each death is described is intense and creates such imagery. For example, Ghatotkacha’s death basically felt like a horrible sad movie. I love the way it’s described. Unfortunately, there were many other deaths that occurred during this reading, and each time the imagery was intense. Seriously, many of the characters died off based on trickery, battle, and for the well being of others. Could you imagine the change of power that this brought forth for those living where kings died?

The Night Raid was definitely the most unexpected and interesting reads in this section! I remember how nervous I was as Drona’s son snuck into the darkness to fulfill his revenge on the Pandavas brothers, who I’ve grown very fond of since they’re in my very own storybook. It took a turn with Ashwatthaman, and I was not expecting it to end that way. The following section discussed what Ashwatthaman faced after raiding the Pandava’s brothers camp. The jewel that Ashwatthaman has on his forehead also symbolizes him. The symbolization also plays a huge part in the cultural text already, and I think it’s cool that the jem basically protects him. A story could be created where a character is played as Ashwatthaman and cannot lose a battle, because of the jem placed upon his forehead at birth. The rest of the story could be whatever I wanted it to be, but the jem protecting the character would be interesting!

After the completion of the Mahabharata I definitely get the main ideas and pictures, though many of the character plots are really confusing to me. BUT, the Mahabharata was overall an excellent read! I feel like many parts are sad due to the high number of deaths and mourning! As far as the storytelling goes, I do want to stick with my camping story previously discussed from the last reading.


Image One: Indian Epics Battle accessed on Flickr.

Sources were taken from several different places: Arnold, Besant, Devee, Dutt, Ganguli, Kincaid, Macfie, Mackenzie, Nivedita, Seeger, and Tagore. All were accessed online for free here.