Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby

PUBLISHED : Monday, 12 December, 2011, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 12 December, 2011, 12:00am


Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit were bitter enemies. They hated each other and did everything they could to be downright unpleasant whenever they met.

Brer Fox was faster and stronger than Brer Rabbit, but no one would ever describe Brer Fox as intelligent. He had very little going on upstairs in the smart department, and most of his plans to get the better of Brer Rabbit failed miserably.

Foxes are supposed to be famous for their slyness, but the truth is that Brer Fox was at the end of the line when God gave out cunning.

Brer Rabbit knew how to trick Brer Fox at every turn, but Brer Fox never gave up trying to get the better of his sworn enemy.

But this time, Brer Fox had come up with a clever plan that would get Brer Rabbit out of his hair forever. This was a good plan, he was certain, and could not possibly fail.

'Good morning, Brother Fox,' Brer Rabbit shouted as loudly as he could as he skipped past Brer Fox's den. He knew Brer Fox liked to sleep late every morning and he enjoyed waking his enemy up early as he hopped by on his way to the lettuce field.

Brer Fox stuck his head out of his den.

'Must you make so much noise whenever you pass my den? I've asked you a million times to be quieter in the morning.'

'Oh, I am so sorry, Brer Fox. Did you have a rough night last night?'

In fact, Brer Fox had had a very productive night. He had worked on his master plan to get rid of Brer Rabbit forever. By the light of the moon, when all the other animals were sleeping, Brer Fox had crept to the tar pit on the other side of the lettuce field.

The moon shone on the black tar bubbling and hissing in the pit, and Brer Fox reached over and drew a bucketful of the dark, oily material out of the sticky pond. Then, carefully, he moulded the thick black tar into the shape of a baby rabbit. When he had finished his handiwork, Brer Fox placed the tar rabbit near the gate leading into the lettuce field. Then he went home to sleep.

Brer Rabbit was about to hop into the lettuce field when he saw a small black rabbit near the gate.

He had forgotten his glasses so he couldn't see the rabbit clearly. It wasn't moving. Was it injured?

Brer Rabbit bent down and picked up the baby rabbit. Immediately his front paws stuck to the rabbit like glue. He tried to free them with his back paws, but they stuck, too!

At that moment, Brer Fox popped up from behind a bush.

'Now I've caught you! I'm going to cook you for dinner. You can't get away from me now!'

'Eat me for dinner if you want! I don't care! But please don't throw me into that thorny patch of briars over there! Please! Please!'

'Or I might skin you and use the skin as a nice rug.'

'Yes, skin me! Skin me! But please don't throw me into that horrible patch of briars! Please, I beg you!'

'Or I might cut you up into little pieces and throw you into the lettuce field.'

'That sounds very painful!' whimpered Brer Rabbit. 'But not as painful as being thrown into that patch of briars. I beg you, please don't do that to me!'

Brer Fox thought for a moment. 'Right! It's into the briar patch you go!' Brer Fox pulled Brer Rabbit free from the tar baby and hurled him into the patch of briars.

After a few seconds, Brer Rabbit's head popped up above the thorns.

'Thank you for setting me free, Brer Fox! You had forgotten that we rabbits have very thick skins that even thorns and briars can't puncture. Thanks a million!'

And Brer Rabbit hopped off into the lettuce field to enjoy his breakfast.


1 What did Brer Fox and Brer Rabbit think of each other?

2 Which of the two was the best trickster?

3 What usually happened when Brer Fox tried to get the better of Brer Rabbit?

4 Why did Brer Fox make a baby rabbit out of tar?

5 How did Brer Rabbit react to Brer Fox's threats?

6 What is a briar?


1 They were sworn enemies; they hated each other.

2 Brer Rabbit

3 He usually failed miserably.

4 So that Brer Rabbit would get stuck and would not be able to move when he picked up the baby rabbit.

5 He accepted them, but asked Brer Fox not to throw him into a nearby patch of briars.

6 A briar is a bush that has very sharp thorns on its branches.