Beastly Tales from Here and There
. Puffin Books:Penguin Books India . New Delhi, India
PR9499.3.S38 B43 2013 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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I count four previous editions or printings of this book in the collection, but all have had Ravi Shankar as their illustrator. Now Prabha Mallya has supplied large colored illustrations in this 7½ x 9¾ book. The pictures tend to present single characters rather than scenes or relationships; thus the book's front cover gives a good sense of them as it arrays them around title and author. An exception to this rule comes on 18, which shows the mosquito poised for an attack on the king. Another fine illustration presents the cat playing his fiddle outside the window of the foxes (71). Another fine piece is the double-page image of the elephant and the tragopan sipping tea together (110-11). As I wrote earlier, the book offers ten well told, witty tales in verse that include two slightly expanded from Aesop but with different contemporary twists. The eagle dies of grief over the beetle's continual destruction of his eggs wrought out of vengeance for the beetle's old friend, the hare. And the female hare ends up losing the race but winning all the press acclaim. The other tales come two each from India, China, the Ukraine, and the Land of Gup. The Mouse and the Snake from China is a good fable with an ironic ending comment. The Cat and the Cock from the Ukraine uses repeated lines very well (63). In #9, the frog manager ruins the nightingale and never knows it. Prabha Mallya is mentioned only in the colophon and on the back cover. The lack of mention of her in the front of the book is surprising.