Retells the fable of a frustrated fox that, after many tries to reach a high bunch of grapes, decides they must be sour anyway.


Lousy Rotten Stinkin’ Grapes
by Margie Palatini

Theme: Fables
This book is a spin from the Aesop fable The Fox and the Grapes. Aesop's classic fable, The Fox and the Grapes, of the fox who turns up his nose in scorn, when the grapes he desires prove to be beyond his reach, is considerably expanded in this humorous retelling by Margie Palatini.

Like the Aesop’s Fable upon which it is based, this tale is about a bunch of juicy grapes just outside of Fox’s reach. After trying with no avail to reach them, Fox enlists the help of a few of his animal friends. As he is quite sly and bossy, Fox refuses to listen to anyone, and in the end, walks off without his grapes. Illustrations assist the listener by creating a visual of each new idea the “sly” and “clever” fox dreams up for snagging those ever-so-tempting grapes.
Lesson Ideas:
  • Students create their own plan: how the fox should have gotten the grapes. This can be presented in written or drawn form.
  • Use this book for teaching/discussing: friendship, cooperation, teamwork, manners, problem solving, kindness and the benefits of differences. This story has a lesson: if the fox would have stopped telling his friends that they weren't as smart as he was and listened to them, he could have had his grapes right off the bat. Great example to show children that you should always listen to what other people have to say… even if you think you have all the answers.
  • Word wall – vocabulary
  • Animal study: research the animals in the story. Students will discover that the porcupine cannot shoot its quills.
  • This would be excellent for a puppet show or prop story.
  • Do a reader's theater! (available on Palatini's website)
  • A great book to compare/contrast stories; use a thinking map.

Awards and Nominations
  • CCBC Choices (Cooperative Children's Book Council) ,
  • Chickadee Award Nominee (ME) ,
  • Kentucky Bluegrass Award Master List
  • Bill Martin Jr. Picture Book Award (KS)

Extended Activities:
  • Explore Margie Palatini’s official website: . There are study guides, activities, bookmarks, games and Reader’s Theatre.
  • Have real grapes as a snack for a treat.
  • Art: finger painting using their thumbprints to create grapes.
  • Check out the video: Lousy Rotten Stinkin’ Grapes on .
  • Watch Warner Brothers cartoons Coyote & Road Runner on Wile E. Coyote was often the antagonist, trying one elaborate scheme after another to capture the Roadrunner. In his "talking" cartoons, Wile E. often referred to himself as a "supergenius" even as his plans went for naught. In Lousy Rotten Stinkin' Grapes, we have a fox that is quite a bit like Wile E. Coyote. The fox wants to acquire the grapes, but only if his grand plans are used. When the other animals (bear, porcupine, beaver, and possum) try to make a suggestion, the fox rudely interrupts and dismisses them. After the last of his designs fails, the fox walks off in a huff and declares his disdain for the grapes leaving the other animals to enjoy the fruit of their labors.

Some people have complained that grapes don't grow on trees. This is a bit moot, as the book itself says the grapes are on a vine hanging from the tree. However, a more valid complaint is one that appears at the end of the book - when Porcupine says, “I can aim and shoot them down.” Porcupines cannot really shoot their quills anywhere. This is a minor detail easily fixed by stopping at some point and explaining the facts or researching facts about the animals.

Interest Level: K-3
Accelerated Reader:reading level: 2.0 / points: 0.5
Reading Counts:reading level:1.2 / points:2.0
Guided Reading Level:J

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