Epic poem by Homer [This text is listed as an example that meets Common Core Standards in English language arts in grades 9-10 at http://www.corestandards.org.]
"Leviathan, that crooked serpent . . . the dragon that is in the Sea." This quote is from the Bible. "If there were never any Dragons, why did all sorts of nations tell stories about them?" asks Andrew Lang in this classic and colorfulRed Book of Animal Stories. Not only do we find fiery dragons here, but dangerous dogs and demons; bears, bats, boars, and baboons; greyhounds and griffins; cows and crocodiles; hyenas and hippopotamuses; snakes, saints, and sheep; monkeys, mermaids, and mammoths; lions and llamas; and dozens of others from the wide and wonderful animal world. What a menagerie to excite the sensesand lure the adventurous! Lang, a noted historian, was also an incurableromantic-hence his great success in writing children's books. These stories, first published in 1899, were selected and edited by Lang. The ones about Tom the Bear are from the French work on natural history by Alexander Dumas. Most of the tales in the chapter "Thieving Dogs and Horses" were published by Sir Walter Scott. The ones about foxes are by Miss B. Grieve, who was a great friend of foxes and took their side when they were hunted by hounds. "After all, the fun is to pursue the fox, not to catch him." Lang and Mrs. Lang wrote some ofthese tantalizingly human tales, while others are from French and German books.Other titillating titles and tremendous stories are: "The Lion and the Saint," "The Ugliest Beast in the World" (rhinoceros), "The Story of Beowulf and the Fire Drake," "Hyenas and Children," "Kanny, the Kangaroo," " On the Trail of a Maneater," "Two Big Dogs and a Little One , " and " In the American Desert."People who live in the great American desert must expect to find strange sights, sounds, and dangers, as this Western saga by Captain Mayne Reid compellingly relates. The battle of the snakes, which had threatened settlers one day, turned into a deadly struggle between a big rattler and a bigger boa constrictor. Thestruggle also involved a weasel and a squirrel; only one of the reptiles lived to strike again. Preoccupied with myth and folklore, Lang brought to his stories an art and understanding possessed by very few writers on the subject. Nor does it stretch the imagination to call these stories little classics that have grown bigger with the test of time. Sixty-eight excellent and evocative illustrations enhance the stories and the reader's enjoyment of them.
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