The Classic Tales of Brer Rabbit: From the Collected Stories of Joel Chandler Harris
Joel Chandler Harris. David Borgenicht
. Courage Books: Running Press . Philadelphia and London
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There is already in the collection a copy of the first printing, including a poster. I am surprised at how many little things have changed in this eighth printing. The front and back covers have new illustrations. David Borgenicht, highlighted as the re-teller on the dust jacket, cover, and title-page of the first printing, is banished here to the last page of the book among the bibliographical information. The title-page is reformatted to add "The Classic Tales" as part of the title and to drop mention of Borgenicht. The bibliographical page adds mention of the new cover designer Frances J. Soo Ping Chow, a web address, a changed street address for Running Press, and two new ISBN numbers. As I wrote about the first printing, there are seven tales here in a large-format book of 56 pages. I have enjoyed Daily's work on Aesop, and so I am happy to find his book of Brer Rabbit tales. The introduction mentions that the language has been modernized from Harris' 1880 version "but care has been taken to retain the humor, the music and the truth of these wonderful stories" (2). Brer Rabbit's first trick is to get Brer Bear to take his place in Brer Fox's trap in his peanut patch. The second story is a version of the traditional "Caught in a well? Get someone to ride down" fable. Brer Rabbit tries to persuade Brer Fox that there are suckers in the well. Actually, Brer Fox knows that there are not suckers, but he thinks that Brer Rabbit is hiding a treasure in the well, and so down he goes . . . and stays. In the third, Brer Rabbit tricks the trickster by telling the wolf in front of the supposedly dead fox that dead foxes raise their legs and yell "Yahoo" when visitors come. In this version of TH, the turtle actually misunderstands the rabbit's challenge to a running race after the turtle has claimed that he is mentally faster than the rabbit when he gets going. Turtle then uses his sons, who look very much like their father, at the bends in the race. The center pair of illustrations is a great illustration of the race's beginning (28-29). Brer Rabbit has to dance on his ears for losing. On the stories go. Good stuff! The tar baby illustration on 44-45 is another prize-winner! Borgenicht helps the story by having Brer Rabbit find the tar baby "stuck up." Brer Rabbit threatens to "unstick" him if he does not answer. Good language for this sticky story! The pair of pages illustrating the heave of Brer Rabbit into the tar patch (54-55) is another prize-winner.