Reviews for Aesop's Fables

Booklist Reviews 2009 May #1
What separates this collection of 36 Aesop tales from numerous others is the handsome presentation, the brevity of the stories, and the quixotic illustration style. One fable per page is designed with the text in a sidebar on the outer edge alongside acrylic paintings reminiscent of stylized folk art. Many of these fables will be unfamiliar to most readers, but their succinct quality makes them equally appealing. Each abridged telling is lucid, and the final line makes concrete the moral. For instance, the story "The Two Crabs" ends with "Sometimes people will give you advice about things they won't do themselves." Opposite the table of contents is an appealing mosaic of postage stamp-sized pictures that correspond to each listed fable, and it's an effective tease. This rendition shouldn't replace Jerry Pinkney's or Brad Sneed's or Michael Morpurgo and Emma Chichester Clark's versions, but it definitely earns a place on the shelf. The final page is a note about Aesop. Copyright 2009 Booklist Reviews.

Horn Book Guide Reviews 2009 Fall
This is a sophisticated rendering of thirty-six fables, many well known ("The Fox & the Grapes," "The Tortoise & the Hare"), a few more obscure ("The Boy & the Hazelnuts"). Striking acrylic paintings benefit from intense colors, unusual angles, and clean folk-art style, lending an eye-pleasing angularity to landscapes, people, and animals. Cech's appended author's note provides useful background information about Aesop. Copyright 2009 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2009 March #1
Taking pride of place, Jarrie's postmodern scenes of elegantly elongated animals and skinny-limbed humans comically grinning or grimacing over their various twists of fortune shoulder Cech's 36 amiable retellings to the outer margins of the pages. Writing with severe brevity, the reteller mixes simply related versions of the usual chestnuts with less common--and not always canonically Aesopian--fables such as one about a wig-wearing "Bald Knight" (losing, oddly enough, not only a toupee but a cowboy hat in the picture). His morals don't always make sense on their own--"Take just enough and you won't get stuck," concludes the tale of "The Mouse and the Weasel," in which the mouse finds himself jammed, Winnie-the-Pooh-like, into a hole after gorging himself on corn--but they are generally incorporated smoothly into their mini-episodes. Jerry Pinkney's collection (2000) is still the grandest of all, but readers who appreciate salutary lessons that are disbursed with a light touch may gravitate to this one. (afterword) (Folktales. 6-10) Copyright Kirkus 2009 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2009 March #4

In his afterword, Cech (Sterling's Classic Fairy Tale Collection series) credits Aesop's staying power to an ability to "make a point with economy, common sense, and sharp wit." Unfortunately, while the first two qualities are evident in this collection, there is little of the third, particularly in the often overwrought morals that cap off each entry ("Keep a steady pace, and even the slow can win the race," follows "The Tortoise and the Hare"). These retellings of the familiar fables (36 in total) feel schematic, as if they're the notes for better versions to come. All of this puts a heavy burden on Jarrie's (ABC USA) folk art-styled acrylic panels, and these consistently handsome, quirky images almost succeed in carrying the day. Jarrie's flattened perspectives suggest a world where the moral order is clear and fools are not suffered gladly; his animal portraits exude both a totemic charisma and a comically misguided single-mindedness. But with so many Aesop adaptations available, this one isn't likely to stand out. Ages 4-7. (Apr.)

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School Library Journal Reviews 2009 July

Gr 2-5-Three dozen tales, compactly retold and boldly pictured, are spread across the wide pages of this large, slim collection. Cech uses restraint in embellishing or expanding the small tales, presenting them in traditional brief form with the moral stated at the end. The language is contemporary with just a few colloquialisms that will seem amusing or dissonant according to the reader's taste. "Rooster was strutting his stuff in the barnyard…." "The young men will fall all over themselves asking me to dance with them." "Dog was having a great day." Appearing in facing pairs, each story is told in a column of text on the outer edge of the page. Deep-hued acrylic paintings filling the remainder of the space feature elongated, stylized figures of humans and toothy animals. Some of the plain-spoken lessons are a bit flat while others are more pungent. "Work together and you'll be stronger." "If you dance your own dance, you'll never be out of step." A page of small vignettes offers a visual key to each of the tales, and Cech concludes with the requisite note on Aesop and some history of the fables. With many more tales than usually contained in picture-book renderings, this attractive newcomer will be welcome in libraries needing more Aesop.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston

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