The Wild Geese and Other Russian Fables
. Transatlantic Arts Ltd. . London & NY
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This large-format (8½ x 11) book gets a great deal onto one page! There are eighteen stories on 72 pages, with some eleven full-page colored illustrations, four black-and-white full-page illustrations, and about nineteen less-than-full-page illustrations. The stories are principally folk tales with a good measure of magic, and a frequent dynamic in them is that of the story which presents the same action several times over. Thus, in the very last story, The Hare, the Fox and the Cock, the fox takes over the hare's home. First some dogs agree to get the fox out, only to be frightened by him. The same happens with an ox. Finally a cock volunteers to get the fox out, but the hare now believes that he cannot do it. The cock does--in fact cuts him to pieces with a scythe! There are also several nursery rhymes. The closest in fact to fables are two: The Crane and the Heron (36) and The Cat and the Fox (47). The former keep asking each other to marry, only to be refused; they never do agree on it at the same time. Together the latter, who have married each other, convince all sorts of animals that the cat, Prince Kattophy, is to be feared. Of all the stories and illustrations, I like The Animals in Winter Quarters (38) best. Also good is the illustration (49) for The Cat and the Fox. The extra copy has seen rough handling since 1943, though its texts and illustrations are still fine. Its covers are creased and bent, and the inside rear cover is torn along the crease. Because the color placement is poor on at least two of the illustrations in the good copy (33 and 40), I will keep both copies in the collection. Extra copy for $3 from Heathfield Books, Holt, Norfolk, UK, through ABE, April, '00. This copy was formerly in the Cleveland Public Library.