How the Porcupine Got
By Jessica Faught
In 1990-91, Jessica was a
seventh-grade student in Bonnie Farrar's class at
Williamsburg Independent School in Williamsburg,
Kentucky. Her short story won first place in the short
story competition, and grand prize for the best written
piece at a Fantasy Fair sponsored by the project Journey
Through Fantasy Literature, in May 1991. Reprinted in AppLit with
permission, from Journey Through Fantasy Literature:
A Resource Guide for Teachers. Vol. II,
pp. 91-92. Ed. Roberta T. Herrin. Developed during
a Teachers Institute sponsored by East Tennessee State
University and the National Endowment for the Humanities,
Student Activities on Folktales
Animal Tales Index
Index of Student Writing in AppLit
Complete List of AppLit Pages on
tale texts, bibliographies, study guides, lesson plans)
the Cricket Got Its Churp is another pourquoi tale by
AppLit's pages on Cherokee
Tales and Tall
Tales give other examples and background on pourquoi
tales like this one.
Porky Porcupine was sitting at his
"thinking seat," a branch in a huge fallen pine
tree. He was thinking about how defenseless porcupines
were. They had sharp teeth, but that was about it. Fur
wasn't much help when it came to defending yourself.
"I wish we had a special weapon," said Porky
aloud. "The skunk has his odor to scare away
predators, and the turtle has his shell to hide in, but
us porcupines don't have anything!" (You see, at the
time, porcupines didn't have quills.
Porky thought and thought, but he couldn't come up with
any good ideas. It was starting to get dark, so Porky
went on home to his snug little house in the forest. It
had begun to rain but Porky didn't think much about it as
he scampered on home.
The next morning it was still raining. Now Porky was a
little worried. There were large puddles gathering, and
he knew it would soon be hard to find food. Porky and the
other porcupines all ate vegetation and tree bark. Since
they couldn't climb trees, they didn't often eat tree
bark, though. Porky decided he had better go look for
food now, in case of a flood. He got his umbrella and
went to go look for some "green vegetation."
Already food was getting scarce. He got a reasonable
amount of food and started on his way home.
Then, all of a sudden, a mountain lion appeared in the
way of Porky's path.
"Oh, no!" thought Porky. The mountain lion was
his worst enemy. He had injured several porcupines in the
past. But to Porky's dismay and relief, the mountain lion
didn't even seem to notice him. Porky took advantage of
this and ran off down the hill to his hole. He had made
He got to thinking later that night as it rained harder
and hard though, "What if the lion had seen me? What
could I have done?" This scared Porky because he
would have been helpless. He probably couldn't have done
anything to save himself from the evil lion. He decided
to call the head porcupine for a meeting of the Prickly
Porcupine Personnel the next morning. He wanted to
discuss with the other porcupines their persistent
The next morning Porky got up early to go to the meeting.
It hardly helped at all. No one came up with any good
Meanwhile, the rain was getting harder. At times, there
was even hail. Porky was running out of food again. The
wind was blowing fiercely now, too. Some animals were
left homeless because of the wind damage.
Porky finally got up the courage to go out and hunt for
food again. He was desperate. All he had left was four
dried leaves, a dandelion, and a tree branch. He had
never seen a storm that bad in his life. He called the
Prickly Porcupine Personnel and all the porcupines went
out to look for food together.
The weather was absolutely terrible, especially the wind.
The porcupines trudged along with Porky in the lead.
There was thunder and lightning, too. The porcupines had
sacks with them for food, but not one porcupine could
fill his bag even halfway. Finally the porcupines gave up
and started their journey back. They were about halfway
there when they heard a loud CREAK! The porcupines looked
up and realized three giant pine trees were about to land
on them. There was a cry of fear from someone and then a
huge thud as the trees fell on the porcupines.
"Ouch!" they screamed.
Porky climbed out from under the tree and went to help
his friends. To his surprise, none were hurt! But as
Porky took a closer look he realized all the porcupines
(including himself) had pine needles stuck in their
"They're pine needles!" said Porky, half
laughing, half crying. It didn't really hurt, but the
idea of pine needles stuck in his back wasn't very
"Hey!" said Porky. "We have something to
defend ourselves with now!"
"Yeah!" cried all the porcupines.
"Now if we are attacked by an animal, we can just
poke them with our needles. It will definitely wound
them," said Porky.
Porky slept well that night (except when his needles
poked at the waterbed, and he had to spend an hour and a
half sopping up water with a towel).
The next morning he was glad to see that it had stopped
raining. He could go get more food, and if he ran into
any enemies, he could poke them with his needles, which
he'd decided to call quills. Basically, the storm had
been worth it! It had changed the porcupine forever!
This page created 8/19/02 by Tina L.
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