This story was inspired by an Armenian folktale and tells the story of a fox who finds himself in a lot of trouble after drinking almost all the milk an old woman has left while she gathers fire wood. The old woman quickly cuts off the fox’s tail and holds it ransom while he goes on a search to replace her milk. Thus begins the domino-like effect of the story. First the fox asks for some milk from a cow, but the cow wants fresh grass from a meadow. When the fox asks the meadow for some grass to give the cow, the meadow wants some water in exchange for the grass, and on it goes. Finally a kind-hearted peddler gave the fox some grain which set in motion the chain of giving the fox needed in order to obtain the milk from the cow.
Hogrogian, N. (1971). One Fine Day. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster.
I loved this book as a child. I think it was part of the collection in my kindergarten class. I have memories of being snuggled up in a cubby area under a kind of indoor tree house (I’m not sure really how to explain it) with this story and looking at the pictures. I don’t think I could read at that time, but I knew most of the words by heart.
For me, the illustrations are a big part of the appeal to this book. From the moment you open the book, you see the fox. His image is on the end papers both front and back, but you only see little glimpses of him as he passes through the forest behind the trees. The images are rendered in lovely muted colors with an Impressionistic feel; sort of a little fuzzy- kind of how one feels on a warm summer day. The fox is a strong orange color and quite cute. When his tail is cut off it becomes apparent how much of his cuteness depends on that tail!!
This story is almost like one of those games where you have to come up with a word that begins with a certain letter of the alphabet and then you have to recite everyone else’s words who have gone before you too. So once the fox has been told he has to go get milk to replace what he drank, he first goes to the cow and asks, then he goes to the meadow to ask for the grass the cow has requested in order to get the milk, etc. So each page adds a little more to read plus whatever has come before. It builds up to a nice rhythm.
The other nice quality about this book is the themes of justice and forgiveness. The fox has done something wrong and must atone for it. He’s not a bad fox, he’s just made a mistake, but the old lady deserves to have her milk back. Through some hard work, the fox finally finds someone in the position to be a little generous which allows the fox the ability to repay his debt. The old woman forgives the fox and sews his tail back on- everyone is finally happy. It’s a nice ending and I think brings the story full circle. I believe that children will appreciate the fairness in this tale about a tail.
“It wasn’t a fine day for the fox once he had drunk all the milk from an old woman’s pail- he lost his tail to her carving knife. While Miss Hogrogian’s telling of an old Armenian folk tale is flat, the opposite is the case with her illustrations, which won her a second Caldecott Medal a couple of years ago. A Selma Lanes noted in these pages, ‘You can almost feel the homespun of the old heroine’s dress and hear the metallic clang of her emptied milk can.'”
New in paperback [Review of book One Fine Day, by N. Hogrogian]. (1974, August 11). New York Times. Retrieved from http://www.nytimes.com/ (Proquest document ID 120096942).
I think I would use this as a way to showcase folktales in storybooks. Maybe a different region could be highlighted for a certain period of time. Maybe a six-week run? Changing weekly. This book could fall within either the Middle Eastern realm or perhaps in with Russian folklore? Then there could be Asian or Chinese, African, European, South American, etc.