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Jataka Tales

Ellen Babbitt

Book Overview: 

Jataka Tales form a part of the collective Indian Fairy tales with the only distinction that most of Jataka Tales have a moral. These are famous children stories and some of the stories like the "the turtle who couldn't stop talking" and "the King's White Elephant" are so famous that they are enacted as short plays in schools and are cited as an example in daily conversations. All the stories in this collective work have a moral, most likely being narrated by an animal.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .Woodpecker flew to the hunter's house.

At dawn the hunter came, knife in hand, to the front door of his house.


The Woodpecker, flapping her wings, flew at the hunter and struck him in the face.


The hunter turned back into the house and lay down for a little while. Then he rose up again, and took his knife. He said to himself: "When I went out by the front door, a Bird flew in my face; now I will go out by the back door." So he did.

The Woodpecker thought: "The hunter went out by the front door before, so now he will leave by the back door." So the Woodpecker sat in a tree near the back door.

When the hunter came out the bird flew at him again, flapping her wings in the hunter's face.

Then the hunter turned back and lay down again. When the sun arose, he took his kni. . . Read More

Community Reviews

3.5 stars.

Not as mystical as I expected it to be; and the moral lessons didn’t really announce themselves with a sledgehammer. Though honesty and generosity were the more obvious ones.

An unusual collection of tales from India. Not great, but interesting.

Second in a series. Per the forward, these are Babbitt's retellings of the Jataka Tales for, mainly, a young audience. The originals, I think, are stories of the Buddha's past lives, though none of Babbitt's versions have distinct

More animal fables from India.

"Once upon a time the king of a large and rich country gathered together his army to take a faraway little country. When they fed the horses they gave them some peas to eat.

One of the Monkeys living in the forest saw the peas and jumped down to get some of them. He filled his mouth and hands with t