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Useful weblinks: The Boy who Cried Wolf

  • The moral of this fable, often interpreted as ‘nobody believes a liar’, is echoed in a statement attributed to Aristotle by the ancient biographer Diogenes Laertius in his life of Aristotle (skip to XI for the relevant quote).
  • There are many animations of this fable available, which can add a visual element to exploring the fable with students. Here are a few particularly good examples:
    • A 1977 animation of the fable: the ending is a little abrupt but it is well made. Interestingly, the lie first starts because the boy thinks that he might have seen a wolf and is scared – but then he can’t admit that he might have been mistaken!
    • The Muppets made a funny video of the fable too. In this version, the shepherd doesn’t intentionally lie all the time – instead he overreacts to everything (with the same result of the villagers’ disbelief) and the sheep save the day!
    • Even Sesame Street used the fable as inspiration for a sketch entitled ‘The Boy Who Cried Monster’! The quality of the video could be better, but the characters are great – especially the Cookie Monster – and the moral comes across well.
    • Another puppet show about the fable was created by Edmonton Public Library and produced by Access TV. The wolf is rather atypical!
    • As part of a longer episode (of Adventures from the Book of Virtues), this animated retelling of the fable [skip to 8.32-19.44] sets it in a small German hamlet. Instead of tending to the flocks, the boy who cried wolf is attention-seeking because his new baby brother is getting everyone’s attention!
    • The fable has even been turned into a theatre performance – watch the trailer here.
  • There are also several good audio aids to the fable. Here are some particularly good examples:
    • Listen to this comic parody of a lawsuit concerning the shepherd boy’s death by Mitchell and Webb, where the big flaw of the fable is pointed out: what is the point in having a boy watch the sheep if you’re resolved not to believe him when he calls wolf?
    • Students (especially of younger ages) may enjoy this children’s sing-a-long song.
    • The rock band Futures composed a song entitled ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’. A lot of the lyrics are relevant to the fable, and the chorus lyrics are copied out below:

This is the boy who cried wolf
Too many times before, too many time before
This is the boy who cried wolf
And he is not one to be counted on This is the boy who cried wolf
Too many times before, too many time before
This is the boy who cried wolf
And nobody likes a liar

  • There are also many pictures of the fable. Check out some of the best examples below:
    • Francis Barlow (1687) created this print of the fable, entitled de pastoris puero et agricolis.
    • Milo Winter (1886-1956) illustrated many of Aesop’s fables. In this illustration he focuses on the moment where the helpless shepherd watches the wolf devour his sheep.
    • This illustration of the fable also focuses on the end, when the wolf appears but the boy is not believed. The facial expressions are brilliant.
    • The mirth evident in his smile, the shepherd boy in this picture has been drawn in the act of tricking the villagers.