The Rooster Who Went to His Uncle’s Wedding

Rooster, en route to his uncle’s wedding, struggles with the dilemma of whether he should risk of getting dirty in order to obtain a kernel of corn. His hunger overcomes his better judgment and, of course, he winds up “. . . with a beak full of mud.” This leads into a cumulative tale that will be familiar to anyone who knows “The Old Woman and Her Pig” or any number of its variants. In this case, his quest to get clean is nicely circular: the sun, just coming up as the book begins, is the one who agrees to break the chain of refusal, to repay the rooster for greeting him each morning.

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The Bearskinner: A Tale of the Brothers Grimm

A dejected soldier makes a pact with the devil in this haunting, ultimately hopeful fairy tale. When a person gives up hope, is he still human? Such is the story of a soldier who has lost everything to war: his childhood home, his family and friends, his youth, and his innocence. Enter that sly opportunist, the devil, who wraps the soldier in the armor of a dead bear’s skin, fills its pockets with gold, and makes a dangerous and horrible wager.