Feelings from LeyLA FONTEN

Tülin Kozikoğlu rewrites the La Fontaine fables in Stories from LeyLA FONTEN by employing intertextuality from time to time.

Tülin Kozikoğlu rewrites the La Fontaine fables in Stories from LeyLA FONTEN by employing intertextuality from time to time. In this nine books series, she tells the “characters” of nine different animals which are told by Leyla, who is the grandson of the grandson of the grandson of La Fontaine and is in the age of 86. At the beginning of each narrative, Leyla first introduces herself to the imaginary reader like a public storyteller by using the formal language:

Hello! My name is Leyla.

I will tell you a story,

How nice if you like it!

Later on, a rhyming narrative, which functions as the “once upon a time” phrase in the narrative and can be thought of as a framework story when the entire story considered, begins:

When I saw many animals around me,

Do not think I've collected all of them!

It's a coincidence that each one is here:

One day the fly came in when I keep the window open.

The spider came down from the chimney one morning .

On a rainy day, the cat entered inside sluggishly.

Who knows who has left the dog into my backyard.

The bird was a gift from my brother and the fish from my cousin who is far away.

The mouse, the frog, the hedgehog... I cannot get rid of them.

I have to feed all of them.

The narrative includes all the characters in the way that we can think of each as an inner story, and before each text, the same narrator repeats the same narration as a phrase like “once upon a time”. She brings the characters of the narrative together by chance at the home of LeyLA FONTEN. At the same time, she fictitiously links other books in the series. However, the real difficulty is “how to deal with the strange personalities”. That’s why, the introduction of each inner story begins with a second rhyme pattern that emphasizes a distinctive feature of that character. The narrator invites the imaginary reader to listen to the story with an invitation: “if you don’t believe, listen to the story I will tell you.” As in La Fontaine, names of the characters of the series, which is written in verses, end with “a” phoneme - Sefa, Dila, Mina, Riza, Sema, Kaya, Eda, Tuna, Feza. It provides a rhymed integrity between the inner stories by which the pattern of the frame story is completed.

In LeyLA FONTEN, it seems that each of the inner stories are named according to a problematic feature of the main character. However, we read the character’s feelings and his emotional response against the events in the inner stories since each action affects the feelings. This narrative in the inner stories, which invites the reader to build empathy and is described with the formal language, makes it possible for the reader to stay alone when the character misbehaves. In other words, the sights turns into a view of the imaginary reader to him/herself, to the character through the narrative of the narrator. The narrative is about both an understanding the feelings of the character and the character realizing his/her misbehavior triggered by his emotions in the narrative; instead of the character telling his feelings. One of the most evident inner stories of this awareness narrative which is shaped by the ability to build empathy is the Pedant Mouse Tuna.


Pedant Mouse Tuna

In this book of the series, the narrator strengthens the link between the nine texts by adding another link to the inner story in addition to the pattern that she set up in the frame story. The main character of this narrative is a pedant mouse, namely, Tuna. He lacks empathy and does not care about the feelings of his friends, who live together with him, and criticizes them mercilessly. Tuna not only states that emotional reactions of his friends are “stupid” when “Bird Sema fears ...”, “Cat Dila cries ...”, “Spider Rıza gets angry ...”, “Dog Kaya gets embarrassed ...”, but also gives his cure with arrogance: “You must get rid of this habit quickly, look at me how brave I am all the time!”

His housemates, as in the other books of the series, play a game in which Tuna can see his own behavior as if mirroring; rather than directly reacting Tuna.[1] While Tuna is asleep, they pass his tail through the holes of a cheese, paint it and make it like a snake. When Tuna wakes up, she first fears, but then become normal -because of his pedant character- and realizes how small the snake, which she is afraid of, is! He opens her mouth to eat it, by saying “Maybe it's cheese mite,” and she bites his own tail. When her friends start laughing, she gets angry because she understands that they cheated him. Thus, she experienced the feelings of Sema, Dila and Rıza respectively. He apologizes from his friends:

My promise; I will not underestimate your feelings again

I saw that I could fall into the same situation.


Coward Bird Sema

In this book of the series, the feeling of horror is told in relation with the urge of anxiety. Thinking Bird Sema, Fly Feza is targeting her with the “big needle” is one of the examples of patterns. Sema is petrified and stops moving in order to protect herself from this danger as if she does not fear. In reality, Feza did not even look at her. Similarly, Fish Sefa, who is supposed to swallow it according to Sema, Cat Dila and the Dog Kaya, who chase each other, are in their own fuss no matter how much Sema is afraid of them. Nobody sees her. Sema eventually rebels:

This house is full of danger,

Naughty animals are all around!

How does a tiny bird protect itself?

Save me please?

However, other animals unintentionally ignore Sema and this mobility at home, which Sema is afraid of, is because they play hide and seek. When Sema was occupied with this sentiment, she missed all the fun. The narrator makes the narrative ironic that is full of anxieties, through the character Coward Bird Sema who is ignored. Thus, she reminds the reader that how much they may miss from the life when being occupied with this feeling.


Angry Spider Rıza

Rıza wakes up early in the morning, struggles for hours to spin his web, and locates it in the middle of the room. However, when Mosquito Feza falls to the web, all his efforts are wasted. Rıza gets too angry. Still, he continues to spin his web with determination in various places at home. Every time, the web is destroyed by one of the characters of the series when they crash the web. Rıza's anger is compounded by the emotional collapse created by the fact that his labor is wasted and turns into a burst of anger. When he thinks about vicious plans for revenge, he suddenly realizes that his webs are invisible. For a moment of stopping and thinking calms him a little. At that time, he sees the dyes in the house, sinks his legs into colorful paints, and starts spinning webs in the rainbow color. Rıza's anger turns into pride when his webs becomes artistic work and visible. The narrator gives the message that one should stop and think in the moment of the anger and reflect aboout himself first before giving a sudden reaction.


Impatient Fly Feza

This time the residents of the house are going to go to the vacation and Feza impatiently cannot sleep. She disturbs the residents all the night by buzzing. In the end, in the middle of the night, she cannot handle it anymore and falls asleep. When she wakes up in the morning, she sees that nobody is home, and then starts crying. At this point, the impatient character confronts his mistake individually. She experienced the result of her impatience in a painful way.

On the other hand, since there is a sense of a “relative to children” on the level of the reader, she does not confine her character to a tragic end. She plays her hope card. Her family immediately notice the situation and returns and takes Feza. From that day on, Feza whispers these words to the ears of impatient children:

When tttime is too dddifficult,

When you do not wanttt to wait at all,

Remember my story.

Turn your eyyyes to the skyyyy,

When the stars counttt one, two

Twelve twenty-two ...

Wishhh or dreammm.

You know, when the ttime comes, whatever you wanttt happens.


Lazy Fish Sefa

There is a sweet rush for cleaning at home. Everyone makes preparations for the party except Sefa. When the work is over and the party begins, Sefa realizes that the party is organised for him and he “gets ashamed” because he did not help and lied down all day. When he realized how much fun others had during the preparations, he was “very upset” because he fell apart. He understands his mistake and regrets it.

In the narrative, underlying reason behind Sefa's laziness is also related to his feeling of superiority to others. However, the most powerful part of the narrative is that no one directly reacted to the main character as in all other books in the series, and that all the characters gain the ability to think on their own faults. This feature enhances the sense of awareness of children as they make it easier to integrate with the character.


Envious Frog Eda

Eda is a frog who says “I can do the same, it is easy one” and tries to do things done already by others, who were complimented by LeyLA FONTEN, but she fails in the end. Finally, Leyla cannot stand patient and talks to Eda. When Eda says “I want you to love me a little bit. But I am not talented to do anything”, her feeling of jealousy becomes apparent. Leyla tells her that everyone's skills are different, how much she loves her even if she cannot do what others can, and they do what they do best together: “Jump together, jump, jump!”

The success of the text is that while Eda appears as that she is under the control of the curiosity on the first layer of narrative, the narrator chooses to emphasize on the feeling of jealousy underlying Eda's curiosity. At this point, “she always thinks about the things done by others” is the key sentence of the narrative. Thus, the suitable place is prepared for the character to confront with her real emotion.


Shy Dog Kaya

In this text of the series, exaggerated behaviors displayed to the guest are caricatured by Kaya’s shyness and the fear of the guests. The guest will come home and everyone starts making preparations to entertain the guest. However, Kaya is concealed behind the seat, “because he does not like to show himself to others”. Others, on the other side, exaggerate welcoming the guest and turn the house into a circus. The guest is afraid of this welcome ceremony, which returned to a dangerous show; “Does it worth to run the risk of this danger for the entertainment? I wish we could sit and talk calmly!” He flees and searches for a safe place in the house. In the meantime, Kaya says behind the seat “come here, this place is safe.” The guest smiles and says, “I understand that you are running away from these crazy ones. I thought you were shy!” This sentence creates a discourse about overcoming the prejudices and becomes a sign of a love that can be born between the two.


Sad Cat Dila

Dila is a grouchy cat. Everybody gathers around her to silence her. She is beyond control at the same time. She does not understand when she is full and eats more than needed. She creates many excuses to be unhappy and cries when it is time to sleep, and when she gets bored and hungry. In time, nobody cares about her. One day she wants water from her friends. When no one hears her crying, she drinks water from the aquarium and swallows Sefa.

Sefa is concerned and anxious in the beginning. Then, he starts wandering in her stomach because he is sure about their friendship. Dila starts laughing. From that day on, whenever they get bored, they do the same thing. Hence, they discover that making someone to laugh makes the person, who makes somebody laughing, happy rather than being grouchy. The strong point of the story is that friends of Cat Dila give up fulfilling Dila’s wishes, and hence, they stay indifferent to consolidate her grouchy behavior. Therefore, Dila faces with herself. At this point, Dila is an individual transformation story.


Stubborn Hedgehog Mina

The story of Stubborn Hedgehog Mina creates intertextual relations with La Fontaine's fables in the stories; but it is a kind of rewriting story that changes the point of view for the feeling of stubbornness. Mina, as the narrator puts it, “is not dressed when she needs to be dressed, does not laugh when she should laugh...she does not know what to do, nor does she make an effort to do it”. She lies on the bed because of the insistence of her friends due to the fact that she has to sleep. However, we encounter an unexpected surprise because the bed is a water bed. Similarly, the result is the same when they forced Mina to dress and join the party, to take photograph and to play games. At the end of the narrative, their friends regret that they insist on Mina, and they discover that the sense of persistence can be born in response to the insistence of others, rather than just being a habit. The fact that Mina’s obligations in the narrative are expressed in the phrase “to be needed” is also one of the elements that the narrator is in favor of Mina. All these “necessities” are gathered at the insistence of her friends and they burst like balloons at the end of the narration. The narrator also makes reference to the La Fontaine's “Two Goats”:

To call someone stubborn

It is needed to have a second stubborn.

Nobody can be stubborn alone.

Just as it is in the story,

Two goats on a bridge

However, as I have mentioned, this time who suffers is people, who call her “stubborn”, not the stubborn person. In this rewriting, the possibility that stubbornness may be triggered by external factors is taken into account.

As a result, Tülin Kozikoğlu's Stories from LeyLA FONTEN Series is about nine different types of features: jealousy, unhappiness, fear, anger, impatience, shame, pedantry, laziness and stubbornness. At the end of each narrative, all these features are consolidated in favor of the character through empathy. The story we are used to read in the La Fontaine fables is not explicitly mentioned in these narratives. On the contrary, as the ability to build empathy is consolidated and integration with the character is provided, children reads and experiences the message to be given individually. At this point, the series appears as a rewriting of the La Fontaine fables.



Kozikoğlu, Tülin. Bilmiş Fare Tuna. Resimleyen: Sedat Girgin. İstanbul: Redhouse Kidz, SEV yayıncılık, 2015.

_____________. İnatçı Kirpi Mina. Resimleyen: Sedat Girgin. İstanbul: Redhouse Kidz, SEV yayıncılık, 2016.

_____________. Kıskanç Kurbağa Eda. Resimleyen: Sedat Girgin. İstanbul: Redhouse Kidz, SEV yayıncılık,


______________.Korkak Kuş Sema. Resimleyen: Sedat Girgin. İstanbul: Redhouse Kidz, SEV yayıncılık, 2016.

______________. Mutsuz Kedi Dila. Resimleyen: Sedat Girgin. İstanbul: Redhouse Kidz, SEV yayıncılık, 2016.

______________.Öfkeli Örümcek Rıza. Resimleyen: Sedat Girgin. İstanbul: Redhouse Kidz, SEV yayıncılık,


______________. Utangaç Köpek Kaya. Resimleyen: Sedat Girgin. İstanbul: Redhouse Kidz, SEV yayıncılık,


______________. Sabırsız Sinek Feza. Resimleyen: Sedat Girgin. İstanbul: Redhouse Kidz, SEV yayıncılık,


______________.Tembel Balık Sefa. Resimleyen: Sedat Girgin. İstanbul: Redhouse Kidz, SEV yayıncılık, 2015.

[1] Mirroring is a technique used in NLP, which is one of the methods in personal development.  It can be defined briefly as imitating the behaviour of somebody without revealing it to him.