[A-List] Henny Penny (fable)
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Thu Aug 12 12:22:31 MDT 2010
Henny Penny (fable)
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"Chicken Licken" redirects here. For the African fast food chain, see
Chicken Licken (restaurant).
The fable is also known by the name of other characters such as
Chicken Licken or Chicken Little, and by the phrase The sky is falling
that occurs there. It is an old cumulative tale about a chicken (or a
hare in an early version) who believes the world is coming to an end.
The phrase "The sky is falling" has passed into the English language
as a common idiom indicating a hysterical or mistaken belief that
disaster is imminent.
1 The Story
3 Musical Adaptations
5 External links
 The Story
The basic motif and many of the elements of the tale can also be found
within Buddhist scriptures as the Daddabha Jataka (J 322). In this
a hare disturbed by a falling fruit believes that the earth is coming
to an end and starts a stampede among the other animals. A lion halts
them, investigates the cause of the panic and restores calm. The fable
teaches the necessity for deductive reasoning and subsequent
There are several western versions of the story, but the best-known
concerns a chick that believes the sky is falling when an acorn falls
on her head. She decides to tell the King and on her journey meets
other animals who join her in the quest. After this point, there are
many endings. In the most familiar, a fox invites them to his lair and
there eats them all. Alternatively, the last one, usually Cocky
Lockey, survives long enough to warn the chick and she escapes. In
still others all are rescued and finally speak to the King.
Illustration for the story "Chicken Little", 1916In most retellings
the animals all have rhyming names, commonly:
Chicken Licken / Chicken Little
Ducky Lucky or Ducky Daddles
Goosey Loosey or Gander Lander
Foxy Loxy or Foxy Woxy
Note that in the most common version, Henny Penny is the only
character whose last name does not begin with the letter L. (In
another version, the character is named Hen Len.)
The moral to be drawn changes, depending on the version. Where there
is a 'happy ending', the moral is not to be a 'Chicken' but to have
courage, which is the conclusion of the film "Chicken Little" (2005).
In other versions the fable is usually interpreted to mean do not
believe everything you are told, as in the first version of the film
(1943). This was one of a series of four produced by the Walt Disney
Studios at the request of the U.S. government during World War II for
the purpose of discrediting totalitarianism in general and Nazism in
particular. Its dark comedy is used as an allegory for the idea that
fear-mongering weakens the war effort and costs lives. The Chicken
jumps to a conclusion and whips the populace into mass hysteria, which
the unscrupulous fox manipulates for his own benefit.
During the later 1940s, Lightnin’ Hopkins devoted his song "Henny
Penny Blues" to the fable.
There's many people in the world just like our Henny-Penny,
They panic when they listen to the news,
They think the sky is falling and we're all about to die,
I'd say they have the Henny-Penny-Blues.
It is this reading that is presently being used to satirise the media
and resist propagandists for one cause of panic or another. Among
those using the fable in this way is Gary Bachlund in his musical
interpretation (see below).
Walt Disney Studios made two animated versions of the story:
The first adaptation was an animated short released during World War
II. It tells a variant of the parable in which Foxy Loxy takes the
advice of a book on psychology by striking the least intelligent first
and convinces dim-witted Chicken Little that the sky is falling.
The second Disney adaptation is a feature-length computer-animated
film. It tells an updated science fiction sequel to the original fable
in which Chicken Little is partly justified in his fears.
 Musical Adaptations
There are many novels, films, CDs and single lyrics titled "The Sky is
Falling" but the majority refer to the idiomatic use of the phrase
rather than to the fable from which it derives. The following are some
lyrics which genuinely refer or allude to the story:
"Henny Penny, Cocky Locky, Goosey Loosey, Turkey Lurkey, Ducky Lucky,
Chicken Little, It seems they are all on the move when the sun is
falling in" are lines from the song "Moving in with" by British band
Happy Mondays on their second album, Bummed (1986).
The Aerosmith song Livin' on the Edge (1993) has the lines "If Chicken
Little tells you that the sky is falling, Even if it wasn't would you
still come crawling back again?"
"Chicken Little" is a song from the 1997 album Fancy, by the
California avantrock band Idiot Flesh; it contains the line 'The sky
is falling, gotta tell the king'.
"The Sky Is Falling" is a song by Owsley, from the 1999 debut album
Owsley and includes the line "Chicken Little had a big day today".
British band Radiohead used the line "Go and tell the King that the
sky is falling in" in their song 2+2=5, included on the album Hail to
the Thief (2003).
In addition, American composer Vincent Persichetti used the fable as
the plot of his only opera The Sibyl: A Parable of Chicken Little
(Parable XX), op. 135 (1976), which premiered in 1985.
In 1991, On the Sitcom, The Golden Girls, Dorothy, Rose, and Blanche
perform a short musical based on the fable in a Fairy Tale recital at
In 1998, Joy Chaitin and Sarah Stevens-Estabrook published their
musical version of the fable, "Henny Penny" Flexibly designed for
between six and a hundred junior actors, it has additional characters
as optional extras: Funky Monkey, Sheepy Weepy, Mama Llama, Pandy
Handy and Giraffy Laughy (plus an aggressive oak-tree). An adult
version of the song The Sky is Falling is available as an MP3
In 2007 Gary Bachlund set the text of Margaret Free’s reading version
of “Chicken Little” (The Primer, 1910) for high voice and piano.
^ Walt Disney (1943). Chicken Little.
^ The opening sequence can be seen on YouTube 
^ Audio on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GRZjWnlboBg
^ Audio with lyric on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ABGAbthvSRs
^ Audio on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-3TzCgFqrcA
^ Audio version by The Semantics on YouTube:
^ Audio on YouTube with the lyrics underneath:
^ Partial preview on Google Books 
 External links
The Remarkable Story of Chicken Littl
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