The Fox and the Grapes

a fable by Aesop
retold by Chuck Bennett
First the story,
then the notes.

Once upon a time a fox was walking through the forest. She was very hungry and thirsty, because she had not had anything to eat or drink since the day before.
The fox came to a glen in the forest where there were grapevines growing, but she was disappointed to see that almost all of the grapes had already been eaten by other animals. Then she looked up and saw one last bunch of grapes, hanging from a vine that was looped high over the limb of a tree.
She could see that the grapes were big and fat and purple, and she knew from experience that they would be sweet and juicy, just the thing to quench her hunger and thirst.
The fox jumped as high as she could, but the grapes were too high and she could not reach them. She tried to climb the tree, but the bark was too slick and her paws were not well-made for climbing. She jumped again, but still could not reach the grapes.
The fox sat for a moment and looked up at the bunch of ripe grapes, so far above her head. The thought of how those luscious fruit made her mouth water and her stomach growl. She wanted them very badly.
The fox walked a little ways away, then turned and ran back toward the grapes and leaped as high as she could leap. She went very high into the air, but not high enough to reach the grapes. She fell to the ground and rolled over and over until she bumped against the trunk of the tree.
She lay there on the ground for awhile, looking up at the grapes. Then, moving slowly, bruised and dusty, she got to her feet and walked away. As she left the clearing, she looked back at the grapes one last time and sneered, "Hmmph. They were probably sour, anyway."
Moral: It is easy to disparage what we cannot have.
The End
This story is presented here as a supplement to my article, "Storytelling 101 - Part 1: Learning a stock of easy-to-tell stories," which is included in the April 1998 issue of Circle Time e-zine. You may wish to simply read this story to your children, or to learn the essential parts so that you can tell the story to your children in your own words, as suggested in my article. To make it easy for you to learn the essential substance of the story without memorizing every bit of plot and dialogue, here are the important elements and the moral of the story.
Important Elements:
1. The fox sees the grapes and wants them, imagining how sweet and juicy they will be.
2. The fox tries to get the grapes but cannot reach them.
3. The fox devalues the grapes by telling herself they must be sour.
Moral: It is easy to disparage what we cannot have.
See my Storytelling Resources page for an index of Storytelling 101 articles, ordering information for books of stories, and links to free online texts of stories.
This article Copyright © 1998 by Chuck Bennett (
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