The Illustrated Book of Aesop's Fables
. Barron's Educational Series, Inc. . Hauppauge, NY
PZ8.2.I449 2006 (Carlson Fable Collection, BIC bldg)
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This is the English version of Fabuloso Esopo (2005) by Parramón Ediciones in Barcelona. Its design is quite original. It groups seven fables under each of four animals: fox, wolf, eagle, and lion. There is an opening T of C presenting these four sections. Then each section has its own T of C with page numbers along a circuitous route traveled by that section's main character. The fables receive four pages each. Almost every page includes some illustration. The morals tend to be simple and upbuilding. Thus for A Fox and a Woodcutter, we read We must be sincere in both what we say and what we do. We should not do what the woodcutter did, say one thing and do the opposite (15). Is the fox in the picture on 13 shushing the woodcutter? Ovani's best illustration for the foxes might be 24's goat on the rim of the well already containing the fox. Simona Bucan creates plastic landscapes for the wolf fables. Her illustrations for WL may be the best (39-41). Her method also serves her well for the illustrations of A Wolf and a Lion (58-61). Some of the written versions of the fables are careless, I believe. Thus An Eagle and a Turtle (68-71) does not resolve the motivation of the eagle and keeps, for no apparent reason, the reference to the riches of the Red Sea. It also gives two morals: It is not good for us to desire something that we can never hope to achieve. And also, if we get all we want too easily, sooner or later we will usually be sadly disappointed. Pellegrini's style may be the most primitive. Her best work shows the crow who tried to act like an eagle being given to the shepherd's children (78-79). The color cells are deliberately presented here. The book offers the fable about the eagle that is advised by a fox not to reward his benefactor but to placate his enslaver (84-7). In this version, the eagle does not follow the fox's advice. The moral asks us to reward those good to us; it urges us not to listen to those who advise differently. I think Aesop gets lost in this book's urge to teach children niceness. For me, Cenci's lion illustrations are the most impressive. Her cover-picture of the lion and mosquito (also on 110) is the book's strongest image. I for one get confused by the moral here of the always-difficult fable about the rabbit's proclamation of the great day of peace. The hare thought--and she was right--that she and all the other humbler animals can live in peace where justice reigns, but common sense made her cautious, and thus she did not want to stay too near (120). What? There is a short biography for each of the illustrators following 125.