2010 to 2014
2010 Aesop Naturaliz'd: in a collection of fables and stories from Aesop, Locman, Pilpay, and others. The fifth edition, with the addition of above fifty new fables. Paperbound. London/La Vergne, TN: D. Midwinter and A. Ward/Ecco Print Editions. See 1743/2010.
2010 Aesop's Fables. Charles Santore. First printing. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. NY: Sterling Children's Books. Gift of Jeanette Hilton, Oct., '12.
Here is a redoing of the 1988 version, of which I have a signed copy. This version is almost 2" shorter and 1" narrower. The dust-jacket now features the finish of TH rather than FG. Inside the book there is still the triple foldout of the end of the TH race. In fact, the animals from all the fables again reappear in this foldout. Now a moral is added to each fable. "Ass" in that version has become "Donkey" in this version. As I wrote then, this is lovely, lively book. The art is big, witty, and strong. As the verso of the title-page indicates, this special edition was printed for Kohl's Department Stores on behalf of Kohl's Cares. The back-cover notes Kohl's and the exceptional price of $5.
2010 Aesop's Fables. Retold by Fiona Waters. Fulvio Testa. Signed by both Waters and Testa. First Printing. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. London: Andersen Press. £30 from Anderida Books, Ledbury, Herefordshire, UK, Dec., '10.
Fiona Waters, I am learning, is a prominent creator of children's books; she has produced some eight of them! She and Fulvio Testa have combined to make a very good fable book here. Testa's style remains similar to the style he showed in his 1989 Barron edition encompassing twenty fables. Here he has tripled the number of fables. The inspiration of some scenes remains the same. The illustrations there were branded by the unusual multi-colored borders. Here the illustrations take up the whole of each right-hand page, while texts are on the left-hand pages. The sleeping hare there had been playing solitaire. Now he is on an ipod (title-page and 31)! WC there and here are the same in inspiration, but the venue has changed (11). The cover-page and dust-jacket have a fine FC, which can also be found on 14. There is real distance between these two characters! FS (29) may have improved. "The Tortoise and the Eagle" (33) is a fine illustration; it gives us a sense of the proud tortoise's smallness. I love the cat hanging with one eye open and fixed on the mouse under the dresser (35). DLS is told twice to accommodate two different versions (38-41). "The Lion, the Bear and the Fox" (86) does a good job of showing the large beasts' exhaustion. This version substitutes a trap of sticks for the hunter's bow in AD (74). The telling of some fables might make them seem banal; an example is "The Hunting Dog, the Lion and the Fox" (72). There is a small head-piece for each text besides the full-page illustration. The two illustrations often work together well. A good example is FWT (84): the headpiece illustrates the trap and the severed tail. The full-page illustration shows the fox without a tail trying to persuade the other foxes to get rid of their tails too.
2010 Aesop's Fables. Hardbound. New Delhi: Tell Me a Story: Pegasus B. Jain. $7 from an unknown source, August, '11.
This hardbound book of 82 pages seems to be a compendium in smaller format of the stories contained in the set of Pegasus B. Jain paperbacks I have gathered elsewhere. It thus contains twenty stories of four pages each, each illustrated with lively computer-designed graphics. The early T of C closes with a blooper: "Check You Memory." The element itself at the end of the book has it right by adding a letter to the middle word.
2010 Aesop's Fables. J.B. Rundell. With Illustrations by Ernest Griset. Second printing. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. NY: Fall River Press: Sterling Publishing. $10.98 from Barnes and Noble, Omaha, Dec., '11.
Here is a casual find from a Christmas shopping visit to Barnes and Noble. It seems to select from the enlarged versions of Rundell and Griset's work that appeared starting in about 1874, even though the only references here are to the original smaller work of this pair in 1869. From what I can gather, there is more here than was in the earlier work and less than was in the enlarged editions beginning about 1874. The clearest sign of the presence of the enlarged version here is the final "Finis" illustration (250). The clearest sign that some of the early work is missing is the lack here of "The Ant and the Chrysalis." Many of Griset's illustrations in the original publications are dark, particularly in cheaper later printings. The advantage of this book is that those illustrations are sharp and clear here. Griset's work is still often dark in itself, as in "The Frog and the Fox" (118) and "The Fir Tree and the Bramble" (147). Griset remains whimsical. Why, for example, is the knight asking his horse to return to battle Don Quixote (95)? Why is the thief pictured as an Eskimo but not mentioned as such (132)? Why is the nurse threatening to throw her child to the wolf a monkey (155)? I still have questions about why the travelers run into a bear and a cub (36) and why there are three foxes in the illustration but only one in the text of FG (73). Griset works in several styles, one of which reminds me of the figures one sees in German beer halls, as on the T of C page and on 109. Other styles include those heavy on shadow, like WC on VII and again on 24; those that are cartoonlike, like "The Eagle, the Cat, and the Sow" on 22 and "The Fox and the Mask" on 39; and the more straightforward, like "The Cat and the Cock" on 49. Overall, I am delighted to see this classic reproduced and available economically. To find Rundell, by the way, one has to dig into the introduction. There is an AI at the end and a list of full-page illustrations on VI.
2010 Aesop's Fables: A Modern Adaptation. By L.B. Glisson. Texts mainly after Croxall, La Fontaine, L'Estrange, et al. Classically Illustrated by Ernest Griset. Paperbound. Gainesville, FL: Doberwarez Multimedia. $12.98 from Better World Books, April, '11.
"160 timeless lessons in ethics, critical thinking, and common sense with more than 150 artful illustrations." This book's greatest feature may be the beautiful colored version of Griset's cover. It takes a full set of his illustrations and puts them to standard prose texts. The Griset illustrations have all their usual variations, including the very dark inkings (e.g., "The Hermit and the Bear on 178); the exotic settings in which an eskimo thief tries to distract a dog (95); the nicely delineated ("The Bear and the Beehives" on 65 and the back cover); and the classic (e.g., WC on 19). There is a T of C on 183-6. Is this another "print upon demand" book? It was printed in La Vergne, TN, on April 4, 2011. Here is commercialism at work in a new area. I am tiring of people selling me contemporary copies of old books as though they were something different from that.
2010 Aesop's Fables (Armenian). Aesop. Paperbound. Yerevan, Armenia: Publishing House Nerashkharh. $15.50 from ArmeniaBooks.com through eBay, May, '12.
According to an eBay seller, the booklet was published in a very limited edition. To guess from the format of other typical books of Aesop's fables, there is some introductory material about Greece and the life of Aesop, starting on 3. By 35, we are dealing with FC, as the simple black-and-white illustration indicates. Further fable-identifying illustrations include WL (44), LM (48), TMCM (53), "The Lion and the Fox" (60), "The Hare and the Lion" (62), and FG (68). This booklet is my sixth or seventh publication in Armenian in the collection. ISBN 978-9939-817-05-7. 72 pages. I was able to get some helpful basic information on the book by tracking its ISBN number.
2010 Aesop's Fables: Complete, Original Translation from Greek. Translated from the Greek by George Fyler Townsend. Paperbound. Lexington, KY: Forgottenbooks.com. See 2007/10.
2010 Aesop's Fables in English & Latin, Interlineary, for the Benefit of those who not having a Master, Would Learn Either of these Tongues. (John Locke). Paperbound. London/LaVergne, TN: A.and J. Churchil. See 1703/2010.
2010 Aesop's Fables with Instructive Morals and Reflections, abstracted from all party considerations, adapted to all capacities: and design'd to promote religion, morality, and universal benevolence. Samuel Richardson. Paperbound. London/La Vergne, TN: Eighteenth Century Collections Online Print Editions: J. Osborn, Junior/Gale Ecco. See 1740/2010.
2010 Aesop's Fables: 240 Short Stories for Children. Illustrated by Harrison Weir, John Tenniel, Ernest Griset and Others. Paperbound. Lexington, KY: Petra Books. $8.94 from Amazon.com, Feb., '10.
This is a curious paperbound book of the internet instantaneous publishing era. My Amazon order is dated February 20, 2010. This book was printed February 21, 2010. The book is based on Aesop's Fables: A New Revised Version From Original Sources, With Upwards of 200 Illustrations by Harrison Weir, John Tenniel, Ernest Griset and Others, e.g. from Syndicate Trading Company and William Allison Company in the 1880's. It falls thus into a tradition of already cheap offprints. This book actually presents on 15 a second title-page generated from that book, acknowledging Frank F. Lovell & Company as the publisher in New York. That second title-page -- with a different title from the book's title! -- follows a beginning T of C and is followed in turn by a life of Aesop. It is a service to make these texts and illustrations available, I suppose, but I am saddened at the quality of the illustrations as they go through a third or fourth generation. Consider, for example, the Gustave Doré illustration of the fisherman on 57. Doré could not be happy to see his work presented this way! The second DS illustration (96) suffers the same fate. The very cover is a pixillated bleeding misrepresentation of Milo Winter's lovely FC. Progess!
2010 After Aesop: Improvisations on Aesop's Fables. Steven Carter. Paperbound. Lanham, MD: Hamilton Books: Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group. AU$60.99 from The Nile, Australia, through eBay, April, '10.
True to the character of this book, I will say that it provides me a learning experience. First, I bought the book from an Australian dealer because I could not find it here in the USA. Now I see that Amazon is selling it for $33.99. I paid almost twice that! Amazon lists its beginning date in September of 2010, five months after I bought it. My second realization is that this is a book I could have written! Carter consulted the editions by Temple, Gibbs, and Townsend. Then he created these improvisations. For most of the fables, the procedure seems the same. He tells the fable in traditional fashion and then assigns a witty moral. The one page of introductory material consists of two excerpts from Wikipedia. The fables are one to a page for 226 pages. There is no T of C or AI. Here are a few samples. "The pregnant woman and the bed" (5) is told in traditional fashion, including the climactic line "My dear, it hardly makes sense that my suffering should end in the very place where it was conceived!" Carter's addition: "Just because you make your bed doesn't mean you have to lie in it." CJ is told in traditional fashion with this following comment: "Pearls before swine are one thing, pearls before roosters quite another" (7). "The man with two mistresses" gets this: ".And both mistresses loved him all the more, for everyone knows bald men are more virile than men with hair" (35). I do notice that some narratives are themselves changed. The bear says that he loves people and thus never eats human carrion and the fox asks why he then kills living people (49). "'You know,' replies the bear, 'I never looked at it that way!'" It is good to see someone having fun with Aesop this way. My last question is: was this book perhaps printed on demand?
2010 Europäische Fabeln des 18. Jahrhunderts: Zwischen Pragmatik und Autonomisierung: Traditionen, Formen, Perspektiven. Herausgegeben von Dirk Rose. 1. Auflage. Paperbound. Bucha bei Jena, Germany: Palmbaum Texte, Kulturgeschichte #26: Quartus-Verlag. €14 from Antiquariat & Neubuchhandlung Blechtrommel, Jena, Germany, through ZVAB, July, '14.
My mouth waters to see the authors and subjects contained in this report of the second international Menantes-Konferenz in Wandersleben in June of 2009. In the first of four sections, Reinhard Dithmar, Michael Schilling, and Jan Mohr write on fable tradition; their treatments touch, respectively, on theology, on Steinhöwel, and on Waldis. Four papers follow on fable theory: Andreas Seidler, Katja Barthel, Peter Hasubek, and Gisbert Ter-Nedden. Gellert, Lichtwer, and Lessing all get attention in this section. The third section on European fable touches on Samaniego, Iriarte, and Krasicki and on fables in Hungary and the Netherlands. The final section on fable perspectives addresses Wilhelm Busch, Lessing, and Max Ernst. As the beginning T of C points out, there are introductory comments by Bernd Kramer and Dirk Rose. There are occasional black-and-white illustrations. I look forward to the rainy day when I can sit down with this book!
2010 Fables (Spine: Aesop's Fables). Editor responsible: Alberto Briceño. Illustration: Franco Martinez Luis. Hardbound. Lima, Peru: Los Libros Más Pequeños del Mundo. $6.99 from USAMiniBooks through eBay, April, '11.
This may be the most engaging miniature fable book I have seen. Every page involves some color, and there are 435 pages. Some ninety-two fables are listed in the closing T of C. Every fable gets a two-page spread for its main illustration; only the last story, TH, seems not to get one of these spreads. One of the most engaging of these also occurs on the back cover: the fox lounges in the well as though on a raft in a swimming pool, while the goat looks down in envy (24-25). Good WC on 68-69! Enjoy the fly ready to die on 152-53. The visual artist on 198-99 specifies as the tail the part of the beaver that the beaver cuts off when he can no longer outrun his pursuers. This translation may also have been done by a non-English speaker: "when he is discovered and chased to cut him the parts.." Good DS on 272-73. This little book shows its colorful nature on the edges of its pages before one even opens it. It has a ribbed outer spine and ribbon bookmarker. It seems to be the second fable book I have found that was printed in Peru.
2010 Fables d'Esope en Quatraines dont Il y en a une Partie au Labyrinthe de Versailles. (Isaac) Benserade. Illustrations by Pierre le Sueur I. Paperbound. Paris/La Vergne, TN: Sebastien Mabre-Cramoisy/Kessinger Publishing. See 1678/2010.
2010 Fables de Jean de La Fontaine Lues par Gérard Philipe et ses Compères. Illustrations by Bruno Vacaro. Hardbound. Vandrezanne: Le Chant du Monde. €19.90 from L'Écume des Pages, Paris, July, '12.
This is a fine book with an excellent compact disc. Twenty fables appear, with at least one fine, detailed, full-page colored illustration per fable. The best among these illustrations may be for "The Coach and the Fly" (5), as the mosquito stands sweating after the coach can start downhill; for "The Small Fish and the Angler" (11); for GA (21); for "The Wolves and the Sheep" (32), where wolf and sheep bump fists to clinch their deal; and for OF (34). The illustrations are lively. There is a T of C on the back cover. The actors on the disc come from Le Théâtre Français. The tracks feature only voices, but they are excellent and nicely varied voices. The French keep on presenting their La Fontaine with distinction!
2010 Fables du Pere Desbillons, Traduites in François par le Même, avec le Latin à coté, corrigé de nouveau, Vol. I. (François-Joseph) Desbillons. Paperbound. Strasbourg/Liege/La Vergne, TN: Chez Anne-Catherine Bassompierre/ Kessinger Publishing. See 1779/2010.
2010 Fables from Aesop and Myths from Palaephatus with a vocabulary. By John T. White. Paperbound. London/La Vergne, TN: White's Grammar School Texts: Longmans, Green, and Co./Kessinger Publishing's Legacy Reprints. See 1876/2010.
2010 Fables from Africa. Timothy Knapman. Illustrated by Linda Selby and Hannah Firmin. Paperbound. Oxford: Tree Tops: Oxford University Press. $11.73 from Superbookdeals through Better World Books, April, '12.
This is a nice reader with five African fables. I do not know any of these fables, at least in this form. Their storylines follow standard fable tropes. "The Tortoise and the Baboon" is like FS. After the baboon mocks the tortoise by inviting him to enjoy food up a tree, tortoise invites baboon to wonderful food but insists that he have clean paws. Baboon must come over ashen territory, and so repeated attempts do not produce clean paws. "The Upside-down Lion" works off of the pattern of getting the dangerous animal back to the trap he fell into the first time. This time lion learns not to threaten friendly people, and so he acts better to his liberating mouse than he had to his liberating baboons. "The Hungry Hyena" sees a hyena lured into a corral by a wily jackal. After they eat many lambs, the jackal goes against his own rule not to attack goats. When the goats rouse the dogs and shepherds, the jackal departs through a hole. The hyena can no longer make it through and pays the penalty for all the shepherds' loss. "The Bag of Salt" has a lizard jump onto and claim a bag of salt which a tortoise is dragging home. In revenge, the tortoise jumps onto and claims the lizard! "Stronger than the Lion" has to do with tricking a lion into a locked hut, where he learns that hunger is stronger than he is. Try 28 through 31 for two of the best illustrations showing the bloated hyena first loose and then stuck in the corral wall. Good stuff!
2010 Fables from Africa. Timothy Knapman. Illustrated by Linda Selby and Hannah Firmin. Apparent seventh printing. Paperbound. Oxford: Tree Tops: Oxford University Press. £6.13 from AwesomeBooks.com, June, '12.
Here is the seventh printing of this nice reader with five African fables. I do not know any of these fables, at least in this form. Their storylines follow standard fable tropes. "The Tortoise and the Baboon" is like FS. After the baboon mocks the tortoise by inviting him to enjoy food up a tree, tortoise invites baboon to wonderful food but insists that he have clean paws. Baboon must come over ashen territory, and so repeated attempts do not produce clean paws. "The Upside-down Lion" works off of the pattern of getting the dangerous animal back to the trap he fell into the first time. This time lion learns not to threaten friendly people, and so he acts better to his liberating mouse than he had to his liberating baboons. "The Hungry Hyena" sees a hyena lured into a corral by a wily jackal. After they eat many lambs, the jackal goes against his own rule not to attack goats. When the goats rouse the dogs and shepherds, the jackal departs through a hole. The hyena can no longer make it through and pays the penalty for all the shepherds' loss. "The Bag of Salt" has a lizard jump onto and claim a bag of salt which a tortoise is dragging home. In revenge, the tortoise jumps onto and claims the lizard! "Stronger than the Lion" has to do with tricking a lion into a locked hut, where he learns that hunger is stronger than he is. Try 28 through 31 for two of the best illustrations showing the bloated hyena first loose and then stuck in the corral wall. Good stuff!
2010 Fables Impertinentes. Jean de La Fontaine. Dessins de Yak Rivais. Paperbound. Paris: Éditions Retz. €14.50 from Amazon.fr, Nov., '10.
One of a cycle of books produced by Retz as "impertinentes." Each fable's retelling plays some game, like GA's substitution and multiple placement of "pitit" all over the fable, as in this line "'I was singing,' replied the little beast who had not raised the littlest finger to raise the littlest provision for winter" (9). This telling of FC avoids the letter "e." TMCM includes a generous admixture of franglais (15). OR turns into a "calligram," in which print forms a picture of what is being reported. Do not miss the good calligram of "The Fox and the Wolf" on 105. "The Lion and the Mosquito" is filled with interjections (21). The opening T of C lists the shift or game at work in each fable between its title and page number. This is good fun. It is great to see a published book having fun with good literature this way. The illustrations are lively cartoons, often substituting human characters for the fables' animals. A masterpiece is BF (44), where feathers protrude from all sorts of human orifices! I find haunting the late representation of FC in which La Fontaine is the crow and the king is the fox (122). Hmmm! It is a shame that the cartoons are black-and-white and not colored!
2010 Fables in Rhyme for Little Folks: Illustrated Edition. Translated by W.T. Larned. Illustrated by John Rae. Paperbound. Chicago/Gloucester, UK: P.F. Volland/Dodo Press. AUD$17.99 from The Nile, Australia, Sept., '10.
Here is a "print upon demand" black-and-white reprint of Larned and Rae's book originally published by Volland in 1918. Like the original, it has eighteen fables, each done with four excellent, witty pictures. The illustrations follow a pattern: opener, comment, full-page display, and "epigram." Here the full-page illustrations are reduced to the size of the other illustrations. All of these are so delightful in color in the original that it is a rather negative experience to see them here in black-and-white. See my comments on the original from 1918 and later printings from 1924 and 1950. Since the book has changed its character, I list it simply as a new publication under 2010.
2010 Fables in Verse: From Aesop, La Fontaine, and Others. Mary Anne Davis, H(enry) Corbould, and George James Corbould. Paperbound. London/La Vergne, TN: A.K. Newman Co./General Books. See 1822/2010.
2010 Fables of I.A. Krylov: Narration into English Verse. David Karpman. Paperbound. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace. $13.50 from Amazon.com, April, ‘13.
A new translation of Krylov is helpful. Bernard Pares' careful translation from 1926, to which Karpman refers, is now almost ninety years old. Karpman's is a privately published book, printed on demand. It claims to offer "196 fables in rhyming narrative verse." It does that. I have found the fables I have sampled intelligible but labored. The rhyming feature of Karpman's translations works especially well with morals, where a rhyme secures the impact of a short finishing statement. In other places, however, I find the poetry labored and obscure, and I suspect that the rhyme is the cause. I tried "The Fox and the Marmot" (2.10 on 39) as a test case. "A marmot stopped a fox to talk" is not normal English but we can find a sense. "I was the judge the inside of the house of hen-tribes" makes no sense to me. Did an editor perhaps slip up here and allow a typo? "Could you before see any lie like that?" Again, I struggle for meaning. Just before the story ends we have a penultimate line that is not idiomatic English, followed by a fine last line that unlocks the whole fable. Those two lines are "No, my fox. Staying right now on this place,/I see the fluffy leavings on your foxy face." Great! The fox still has feathers left on his face from devouring chickens. But who in English stays "on" a place? I will keep trying the next time I am dealing with Krylov, but I hope for better translations than those I have tried so far.
2010 Fábulas de Ensueño. Ana Doblado. Ilustraciones: Juan Vernet. Hardbound. Madrid: Fábulas de Oro: Todolibro Ediciones S.A. $31.19 from Unbeatablesales through eBay, Oct., '13.
Here is a heavy square book of 9" with 253 pages of "dream stories." The first twenty-six of the forty stories here are traditional fables. Each story receives a title-page and four pages of mixed text and illustration. A sixth page presents a break before the next story. The beginning story of wolf and lamb is not the more frequent fable that sees the latter devoured but rather the more comfortable story in which the lamb turns down the request of the tired wolf for a drink of water that would revive him enough to attack the lamb. Next a clever old hen remains when a fox attacks the hen house and convinces him that he has nothing to gain from an old hen. The little fish not only appeals to the angler, but her whole family jumps out of the water around the boat calling for her. He throws her back and then catches some oysters in a net. The emphasis here seems to be on finding a happy ending, even to traditional fables that are curelly realistic. When the miller catches his ass in the lion skin, he reprehends him but does not seem to offer any further punishment. Other fables, like FC, which have less drastic traditional finishes, seem to be told traditionally. The ass that kicks the wolf really does have an injured ankle. This telling softens dangerously, I believe, the moral of BW: "If you lie habitually, no one will believe you when you tell the truth." Only "habitually"? The stag escapes the dogs who chase him after he has admired himself in the water. The last fourteen accounts cover such things as radios, boats, trains, and tractors. It comes as no surprise that the accent of the artwork is on "cute" throughout.
2010 Fábulas de Esopo. Ruth Rocha. Ilustraçoes Jean-Claude R. Alphen. Paperbound. Sao Paolo: Conte um Conto: Editora Salamandra. Gift of Loide Nascimento de Souza, April, '11.
Loide Nascimento de Souza recently submitted her dissertation on the presence of fable in Monteiro Lobato's books at the State University of Sao Paolo. She had written to me asking if I could obtain for her a copy of Perry's important essay on fable. I did, and she has thanked me with this lovely gift! Ruth Rocha, she tells me, is one of the "heirs" of Monteiro Lobato and among the prominent authors of children's literature in Brazil. This is a lovely and lively paperback volume of some 48 pages. The major illustrations here are full-page dramatic presentations. Besides the full-page illustrations, there are clever designs added to many of the text pages. In the first full-page illustration, the fox shows to the rooster up on a perch a "Decreto" about the supposed universal peace. FG (10) shows the frustration of the fox as his paws scratch in the air near the grapes. DS (17) does an unusually good job of mirroring the dog by using a color contrast of blue and brown. One illustration after another is a delight! The grasshopper is huge by comparison with the ant (33). We see the oak suspended in mid air while the reed bends (38); the little design shows the reed's hat blowing off. A delightful book!
2010 Fábulas Magicas. Hardbound. Madrid: mi cajita de música: Editorial Libsa. $14.69 from Book Lovers USA through abe, Nov., '11.
The special feature of this book is that it contains a music box: "Gira la manivela y escucha" is written around the semi-circle cut out of the opening side of the book, and inside this cut out portion is a crank to turn the music box. Eleven fables are narrated on thick pages, two pages to a fable. They contain standard popular Aesopic fables: BC; GA; "The Swan and the Crow"; FG; TMCM; BW; MM; DS; "The Cherry"; and "El Mate." "The Cherry" involves a boy eating cherries and mocking an old man who plants cherries; he comes back years later to find a large fruit-bearing cherry tree and repents his foolish insults. "El Mate" tells of God's gift of mate to human beings, apparently to console them over the loss of their children. Strangely, LM is pictured on the front of this book but does not appear in the inside! Something went wrong perhaps between artist and edidtor.. The tune played by the music box is "Mary Had a Little Lamb."
2010 Fractured Fables: May, 2010. Edited by Jim Valentino and Kristen K. Simon. Book design and graphics by Jim Valentino. Free comic book day edition. Paperbound. Berkeley, CA: Image Comics, Inc.. $1 from Traders of Babylon, Hoboken, NJ, through eBay, July, '10.
After resisting buying this comic book for a long time, I spent $1 to put it in the collection and settle the issue! The five stories here are indeed not fables: "Red Riding Hood," Rumplestiltskin," "The Real Princess," "Raponsel," and "Hey Diddle, Diddle." They are written and illustrated by various people. In "Red Riding Hood," it turns out that "Grandma's" is a "Martial Arts School for Young Ladies." The wolf hardly knows what hits him! Raponsel lets down her hare instead of her hair. The T of C and the story title have "Raponsel." I had already written it up here as a typo; it turns out that there is a "Rapunzel" and a "Raponsel." The parodies here are fun if somewhat brainless. It turns out that there is a 160-page hardcover titled Fractured Fables by Bill Willingham.
2010 Francisci-Josephi Desbillons Fabulae Aesopiae, Curis Posterioribus Omnes Fere Emendatae: Quibus Accesserunt Plus Quam CLXX Novae. Franciscus-Josephus Desbillons. Editio sexta. Paperbound. Paris/La Vergne, TN: J. Barbou/Nabu Reprints. See 1778/2010.
2010 I.A. Krilov: Basni. Illustrations by Dom Mescerjakova. Paperbound. Moscow: Detscar Klassika: Detscar. $10 from A. Leontiev , Moscow, through eBay, August, '11.
This is a classy large-format pamphlet of 32 unnumbered pages, unusually tall: almost 11½" with a width of 7¾". It shows the recent improvement in quality of Russian publications. Its front cover offers a slick illustration of a rat and a mouse looking upwards in pleasant green and orange colors. Inside one finds a two-page spread for each of thirteen fables with simple illustrations in green and black. Twelve of the thirteen represent Krilov favorites that seem to reappear in publication after publication: FC; "Monkey and Mirror"; "Elephant and Pug"; "Quartet"; "Crane, Lobster, and Pike"; GA; FG; "Monkey and Spectacles"; "Sow and Crow"; "Cock and Cuckoo"; "Bullfinch and Pigeon"; and WC. New to me and delightful is "Mouse and Rat": the rat, because she fears the cat so thoroughly, figures that the cat will defeat the lion. "If I the rat am so afraid of him, the lion must have to fear him too" is the illogic that Krylov here ridicules. Perhaps best of the illustrations is "Crane, Lobster, and Pike"; it places the three well apart from each other on the two-page spread and thus underscores the point of the fable. The lobster has eight lines to eight different legs.
2010 Jataka Tales. Ellen C. Babbitt. Illustrations by Sudeep Mukherjee. Paperbound. Kolkata: A Projapoti Paperback: Projapoti. 40 Rupees from Children Book Centre, Kolkata, Dec., '13.
This book may mix stories from Babbitt's 1912 and 1922 editions, titled respectively "Jataka Tales" and "More Jataka Tales." Both were published by The Century Company and illustrated by Ellsworth Young. Simpler drawings here have been substituted for Young's work. There are twenty-one stories here. "How the Turtle Saved His Own Life" (23) is still wonderfully pleasing The fishes in "The Three Fishes" (130) are again named as in the standard Kalila and Dimna story, but the story now has to do with one fish who saves two others from a net. The covers present a human child walking in front of a baboon.
2010 Jean de La Fontaine: Les Plus Belles Fables. Illustrations de Philippe Salembier. Hardbound. Chevron, Belgium: Éditions Hemma. €11.66 from amazon.fr, Oct., '11.
This is the latest in a long line of pretty illustrated French editions of fables for children. Contemporary technology and artistic ability combine for pictures that are colorful and exact. It all starts with a cover that offers a beautiful rendition of FS painted onto its soft cushion. Forty fables receive one-to-three fine illustrations each. Some are more childlike in their approach, like TH (9-11), which offers humanly clad figures. One of my favorites is "The Stag and the Pool" (20-21); this illustration spreads beautifully across two pages. In "The Lion Become Old" (40-41), the ass is climbing onto the lion's body to deliver his insulting blow. AD has a whimsical illustration in which the ant is riding like a horseback rider on the dove (45). In a curious surprise, the book's illustration of FS (55) dresses the animals who had no human dress in the same scene on the book's cover! Does the illustration on 71 belong to the preceding fable, "The Lion and the Mosquito," or to the present fable, "The Spider and the Swallow"? Another favorite of mine shows the weasel and rabbit pleading all sorts of logic before the bespectacled cat (88). Little do they realize that they are both about to get eaten! Let me mention two last favorites. A two-page spread suggests the maliciousness of the frog in FM as he is about to plunge the rat into the water (114-15); the final page shows the scene from above as the hawk carries both away. My impression is that Salembier has borrowed heavily from French illustration history and used other people's framing of scenes as she has created her own realization within that framing.
2010 Jean de La Fontaine's Fables, Volume I. Translated by Elizur Wright. Illustrations by Gustave Doré. Paperbound. Miyun: Tsinghua University Press. 79 Yuan from Hangzhou Wholesale City Trading Co., Oct., '10.
Here is a two-volume presentation in English of Elizur Wright's translation of the full collection of La Fontaine's fables. This first volume contains -- somewhat unusually -- Books I through VII. Brown monochrome presentations of Gustave Doré's full-page illustrations are interspersed liberally through the text. As is frequent in present-day Chinese paperbacks, text-page foredges are decorated with an identical repeating pattern and the covers are heavy paper folded back to create a flap. Be careful: the T of C at the beginning of either volume is identical. A buyer like me can easily think that there are two copies of Volume I rather than one copy each of both volumes. As page 1 makes clear, this is Part I, and Book I starts on 3. This is a substantial production. There is a table of some sort on the book's last five pages, following 384.
2010 Jean de La Fontaine's Fables, Volume II. Translated by Elizur Wright. Gustave Doré. Paperbound. Miyun: Tsinghua University Press. 79 Yuan from Hangzhou Wholesale City Trading Co., Oct., '10.
Here is a two-volume presentation in English of Elizur Wright's translation of the full collection of La Fontaine's fables. This second volume contains -- somewhat unusually -- Books VIII through XII. Brown monochrome presentations of Gustave Doré's full-page illustrations are interspersed liberally through the text. As is frequent in present-day Chinese paperbacks, text-page foredges are decorated with an identical repeating pattern and the covers are heavy paper folded back to create a flap. Be careful: the T of C at the beginning of either volume is identical. A buyer like me can easily think that there are two copies of Volume I rather than one copy each of both volumes. As page 385 makes clear, this is Part 2, and Book VIII starts on 387. This is a substantial production. There is a table of some sort on the book's last seven pages, following 717.
2010 Kejsarens nya kläder. Efter HC Andersen. Bilder av Anna Friberger. Hardbound. Stockholm: Klassiska sagor No. 11: Bonnier Carlsen Bokförlag. 8 Kroner from a Stockholm flea market, July, '14.
This is for me a favorite version of Andersen's great story because it is so frank about the Emperor's nudity. The cover's image is the same as that on the title-page, and both are explicit about showing him naked except for shoes and crown. I wonder if one could publish this book in the USA. The artist has fun with this story start to finish. Consider the first double image. While the emphasis is on the Emperor, there is so much going on. A rat looks on from above while another is running across the top of the wall. A pig is eating a piece of carrot. A child has a hand in a pail. A dog chases a rooster. People are doing things everywhere, except perhaps for the sleepy guards. This Emperor has a very sloppy room, littered with clothes and food and leftovers from food. The artist is also careful with people's eyes, as with those of the Emperor when he later looks at himself in the mirror before he wears his new outfit. The last pages are the best, with their enjoyment of the Emperor's not-so-special body. In a last picture, the wise child looks over the Emperor's shoulder as he writes. Good fun!
2010 La Fontaine aux fables: Trente-six fables de La Fontaine interprétées en bande dessinée: Texte Intégral. Various artists. First edition. Hardbound. Paris: Guy Delcourt Productions. €17.92 from amazon.fr, Nov., '10.
This volume puts together the three separate volumes published in 2002, 2004, and 2006, each containing twelve fables. As I mentioned there, this is a high-class volume of comics. The curious endpapers of the first two shorter editions have been replaced with plain maroon. The artist for each fable can be found in the T of C at the back; few seem to have more than one fable represented here. The fables here probe dimensions not perceived in the text, as when the wolf first makes various attempts on the sheep, only to be thwarted by a dog, and then tries on various disguises before settling on that of a shepherd (3). The stories themselves last generally about three or four pages with about eleven or twelve individual pictures on a page. I find the artists here clever. Two of them bring in FC as clever additions to their illustrations of other fables. Thus both the fox and the crow get distracted when the mule with a casket of gold passes by on 24. FC shows up again on 44 as a short distraction in FS. This is very high quality comics work! One particularly good effect has to do with the destruction of the unwitting. Thus the weasel and rabbit destroyed by Raminogrobis the cat are represented in the last pane only by their characteristic clothing, which is all that is left of them (10). Earlier the corpse of the wolf who had masqueraded as a shepherd is hanged with a shepherd's crook through his heart (5). Do not miss the great pane of wolf's eyes on the top of 38. The final picture of OF on 53 has a Red Cross cart and a puddle of blood where there used to be a frog. UP plays well with the deceitful talk between fox and rooster, as when the author gives the fox a thought-bubble of a meal while the fox himself talks peace or when the rooster uses binoculars to see "dogs" who are in fact grazing cows (56). AD is graced with a particular mordant pane on the ant's bite of the archer (65). TH is done with unicycle and hot-dog motorcycle (70). One of the best stories here for filling the gaps with great pictures is OR (74). Do not miss the animals waiting at the bus stop in spring in "Le Cheval et le Loup" (85). The first picture for "Les Animaux malades de la peste" is a spine-tingler done in black, blue, and purple (95). In fact, this fable turns out to be a delight, as when the artist pictures the lamb hearing the fox say that the murderous lion did sheep an honor by eating them (97)! By the end of that page, everyone has a halo over his head, including the dangling spider. The story ends dramatically on 99 with the fly-infested skeleton of the poor ass who confessed to eating some of the monks' grass as he passed along their meadow. I have never seen a stag with a rack like that on 100! Another favorite of mine is FM on 110-13, which ends with the hawk's nestlings picking over the bones of both the frog and the mouse. "Le Chat et le Renard" (33-35) is one candidate for the book's most unusual style. Another is "La Mort et le Bûcheron" (66) with its appropriately heavy blues and blacks. I enjoy the variety and wit that go into these depictions. I want to see about using them in some interactive mode with people.
2010 La Gansa que Puso el Huevo de Oro/The Goose that Laid the Golden Egg. Shaun Chatto; Spanish translation by Marta Belen Saez-Cabero. Illustrated by Jago. Paperbound. London: Mantra Lingua. Aud 11.48 from The Book Depository, Gloucester, UK, through abe, Dec., '12.
There are actually two distinct goose fables narrated bilingually here. The back cover has at its top "Goose Fables." The two fables are GGE and TT. This is another Mantra Lingua series matching various languages with English. This one is available in seventeen different combinations with English; others in the series are "Fox Fables," which I have in three of its variations, and "Lion Fables," which I have only in English-and-Chinese. This book is also set up for use with the RecorderPEN. The version of GGE here has lovely touches of whimsy. The goose wanders onto the widower's property. The latter plans to cook the goose but is so tired from running around that he falls asleep. The next morning he finds the first golden egg. As his riches pile up, he gets himself a violin; he does not have to work any longer. He invites the goose to a music fest and then chops its head off. TT starts by describing the tortoise as one who talks long and incessantly about himself. The other animals think he has gone mad. He becomes friends with two visiting "Geese Brothers." When they need to head back home, he invents the plan to fly with them. People along their route are amazed, but the tortoise thinks that they are making fun of him, and he decides to tell them off. He lands on a large, leafy bush and almost kills a hare. When the latter mentions it, the tortoise starts to expostulate but then catches himself: "I'm sorry Mr Hare, sometimes I talk without thinking and that's why I landed on you."
2010 Le Soleil et le Vent: Une Fable d'Ésope. Racontée par Heather Forest; traduction de l'anglais par Julie Guinard. Illustrée par Susan Gaber. Hardbound. Albums Circonflexe. $25.09 from Total Books, Colnbrook Slough, Berkshire, UK, through Amazon, Feb., '14.
I knew this book from its origin, "The Contest Between the Sun and the Wind: An Aesop's Fable" published by August House in 2008. Like its original, this French version follows the correct version of the fable. Forest tells the whole story well. The art does a good job of matching the two forces, e.g., when they together form a circle on the title-page. Gaber can use two pages together for a landscape view, as when the man bends with the wind, or for a portrait view on the following pages, when the wind blows harder and the man holds onto his coat. Here there is no contact or interchange between the two rounds; the wind simply blusters off. The man in the sunshine not only unbuttons his coat. He also sings out loud. Finally, he takes off his coat and sits in a shady spot. The wind returns and tells the sun that he cannot imagine that the sun could do any better than he did. The sun shows him the man sitting and playing his flute. "How did you FORCE him to take off his coat!" The sun answers that he won his way through gentleness. When the wind opines that there must have been a trick, the sun offers to show him the "don" and the "choix" that did it. The story wisely does not give the wind's answer. The author adds only "The Sun just smiled.." This lovely book is dedicated to "tous les Gens de paix."
2010 Les Fables de La Fontaine. René Hausman. Hardbound. Paris: Dupuis. €33.25 from Amazon.fr, Nov., '10.
René Hausman is a celebrated illustrator of comic books in Belgium and France. Here is his La Fontaine, and it is wonderful! In image and after image, I found myself saying either "He has it right!" or "I have not thought of that approach to this fable." This is an impressive volume of some seventy-nine fables, each with at least one trenchant illustration. One knows hardly where to start in this explosion of artistry! Look at FS on 10 and 11. Hausman catches the chagrin of the outwitted fox wonderfully. When it comes to humans, look at "The Worker and His Sons" on 16-17. Hausman catches the youth of these three figures. They will learn! I love the dimensions of "The Bear and the Lover of Gardens" (22-23). The rock is about to come crashing down on the insect -- and the head of the bear's own sleeping friend. Hausman is clever to avoid the problem many illustrators have with "The Fly and the Coach" by bringing the insect to the foreground and putting the whole caravan of travelers in the background (30-31). Again in "The Banker and the Cobbler" (56-57), Hausman does an excellent job with the faces of the two protagonists: one small and the other expansive. TMCM on 62-63 contrasts the two phases of the rats' experience brilliantly: the color of the orgy stands out against the black-and-white fear of the flight. Grippeminaud could not be more frightening than he is on 74 as the witless weasel and hare approach. He already recognizes them as victims. The approach to MSA on 86-87 took me completely by surprise, but it fits the piece well. Recognize nature -- yours and his -- and be smart. TT on 94-95 surprised and delighted me. I have never before seen an artist focus on the ducks who have lost their cargo. CW represents another surprise. Where other artists dwell on the pursuit, this is a loving picture-portrait, except that she is dangling a mouse on her fingers (98). SM (126-7) is a weird entry into anatomical and digestive processes; it images the fable perfectly. The second image for "The Lion in Love" (140) is classic. He has little idea what is hitting him -- and no defense. The four scenes of "The Villager and the Serpent" (166-7) track well the craziness at work in this story." There is a T of C on 174-5. This is a major contribution to the tradition of illustration for La Fontaine's fables.
2010 Les Fables de La Fontaine et Hitler. Illustrations par J.-Y. Mass and D. Collot. Paperbound. Paris: Nouvelles Editions Latines/Éditions Fernand Sorlot. €16.21from Amazon.com, Oct., '11.
I have known several of the designs in this book for years and despaired of ever finding them. Here they are in a facsimile reproduction of the 1939 original. That original was apparently published shortly before the German conquest of France and the consequent destruction of materials like this, materials critical of Nazis. Ten fables are presented with their La Fontaine texts utterly intact. The blurb on the back cover has it right: "Cet album, textes et dessins, dénonçait la férocité et la mégalomanie du chancelier allemand." In this book, I would say, it is the satirical illustrations that make the difference! Several seem to me to apply less well. Among those that may seem to stretch La Fontaine in order to criticize Hitler, I would list FC and GA. Who is that asking Hitler the crow to drop the cheese that is Poland? And I would never have envisioned Hitler as the artist grasshopper needing to ask the ants for shelter.. Several illustrations, though, hit the mark perfectly! Those that seem made for criticizing Hitler have the representations that I have seen and remembered, particularly WL and MM. Hitler as a milkmaid is a riot! Notice the doll or girl lying near the lamb in WL's illustration. "The Wolf Become a Shepherd" portrays the shepherd as the angel of peace sleeping in the pasture. One that seems more a prophecy than a critique is OR. Who is that goddess that sends the lightning down to uproot the Hitler-oak? OF similarly looks forward to Hitler's self-explosion. I ordered a second copy of this book in order to scan these illustrations without harming this good copy. Now, of course, I am all the more eager to discover a 1939 copy somewhere, somehow.
2010 Les Fables de La Fontaine pour réfléchir. Laetitia Pelisse. Illustrations de Mauro Mazzari. Paperbound. Paris: Collection "Des mots pour réfléchir": Oskar Jeunesse: Éditions Oskarson. €11.66 from amazon.fr, Nov., '10.
This is a fine book! It works from thirteen of La Fontaine's best known fables. For each there is a four-page spread, as is indicated in the T of C on 5. The first pair of pages presents La Fontaine's text and a humorous full-page colored illustration of the fable. In FC, for example, the crow looks quite glum while the fox runs off excitedly with a full Camembert-like round of cheese in his mouth. The next two pages present a standard set of good elements: a short statement of the moral in La Fontaine's words; an explication of the moral with an example; a set of questions engaging reflection on the moral and often challenging the extent of its applicability; a "What do you think?" section labelled "Conclusion"; and a game of some sort with the fable. The latter section might ask the young reader to fill in words of a related proverb or explain a proverbial image associated with the fable. If I were a young person, I would find this book highly engaging. I am older and I find it engaging! Mazzari uses humor effectively to enliven his illustrations. The heron has the snail balanced on his snout (11)! The horse sits chomping clover while the ass suffers at the summit of a high hill (14). In perhaps the best illustration of the book, the fox stands on the arms of a wobbling chair to reach his paw into the vase while the stork enjoys his food. His vase by the way has a wider mouth and a see-through neck, so that we can see his beak at work finding food at the bottom (30). There is a kind of Goreyesque humor in the depiction of the stag whose antlers have been caught (38). Notice the ears silhouetted in the foreground; animals are ready to attack this stag On 50, the grasshopper uses his guitar to shield himself from the rain as he looks at the ant enjoying a cup of tea in his well protected tower. This is great imaginative work!
2010 Les Fables de La Fontaine: Tome 2. Mylène Villeneuve. First impression. Hardbound. Quebec: Éditions Ada Inc. $19.50 from Brian Harling, Toronto, Sept., '11, through eBay.
This volume comes out one year after its companion and with similar bibliographical data. It is a heavy book offering on some 323 pages half of La Fontaine's fables, each with a full-page colored illustration. An AI at the beginning is also a T of C. This volume presents those fables beginning with the letters L through V. This arrangement has a particular advantage: someone wanting to find a number of fables about one animal -- like the lion -- can find some of them grouped together here. Of course the character one seeks might be mentioned second in the title and then one still has to seek elsewhere. I find the illustrations simple and dramatic. Is there a certain lack of definition inherent in this art medium? Are the illustrations computer-generated? Among the best of the illustrations are "La Lice et sa Compagne" (15); "Le Loup, la Chèvre et le Chevreau" (61); "Les Membres et l'Estomac" (103); "L'Ours et l'Amateur des Jardins" (146); "Les Deux Pigeons" (180); "Le Renard, le Loup et le Cheval" (213); FG (232); and "Les Souris et le Chat-Huant" (274). In the end, I wonder if this artistic style does not have a lot to do with the art of recent graphic novels and comic books. The outer spine has been bruised and gouged.
2010 Mes toutes premières Fables de La Fontaine. Illustrations d'Olivia Cosneau. Hardbound. Champigny-sur-Marne: Éditions Lito. €11.71 from Amazon.fr, Oct., '11.
Five fables are presented with their full La Fontaine texts and pictures adapted to very young children. One special feature of this book is the large round hole in its cover, allowing the viewer to see through to a child, a fox and a crow. A second unusual feature is the variety of materials used in the illustrations. They sound wonderfully exotic in French: feutrine, feutrine peinte, tissus imprimés, fourrure synthétique, maille tricotée, madras, raphia, fil à canevas, fil à coudre.. The fables presented here are FC, GA, LM, AD, and OF. Those wanting a good sampling of the illustration style might want to look first in AD.
2010 Mille Fabulae et Una: 1001 Aesop's Fables in Latin. Laura Gibbs. Paperbound. Morrisville, NC: Lulu Publishers. $19.94 from the publisher, Sept., '10. Extra copy from the publisher at the same time.
My hat is off to Laura for producing this lovely book. There is one -- one! -- page that stands between the reader and the beginning of enjoying the 1001 Latin fables. This page gives the reader what she or he needs to know about finding more information about fable, for example, or about where these fables come from. This single page also alerts the reader to the fact that the book is available free in pdf form on the web. What a generous gift! The fables are grouped by characters. Readers may want to keep a finger at 435, where the character groups are identified. I am delighted to see that Fr. Desbillons is the source of some 120 of the fables here. Laura is good enough to urge readers enjoying those to try the originals available through Google books. I am eager to try sprinkling in some of these fables when I teach Latin this summer! By the way, 417 presents one good way to get into the genre of fables: some characteristics to watch for, not any one of which completely delimits the genre. And there is a T of C on 437, the last page of the book. Congratulations, Laura!
2010 Mr Aesop's Story Shop. Bob Hartman. Illustrated by Jago. First edition, first printing. Hardbound. Oxford: A Lion Children's Book: Lion Hudson. $10.19 from ABC Books, UK, through Amazon.com, Nov., '10.
The author declares in the introduction that he wanted to know more about Aesop before retelling Aesop's stories. The information he found led him to wonder "what might have happened if Aesop had started up his own business, running a stall in the agora (that's Greek for marketplace), doing what he loved best -- entertaining people and telling fables?" (5). I am glad that he goes on to declare that "the stories have something to say to people of all ages, grown-ups and children alike." He goes on to tell ten of Aesop's stories -- but, true to his purpose, he situates each first in a fictional situation in the agora. Aesop is selling olives and cheese and inviting people "Stop for a moment -- and enjoy!" The key in telling his first story, LM, is the line in which he asks his audience "You're too small, You're too slow. You're too ugly.. Has anyone ever told you that? And then used it to keep you from doing something you really wanted to do?" (7). Hartman follows up by including this in the last lines of this fable: "Don't let anyone judge you by the way you look" (11). For me, the human illustrations -- and especially those of Aesop -- are even more engaging than the good illustrations of the animals in the fables. In the middle of CP, Aesop forces his listeners to go find pebbles that they can put into his jar. "We can't finish the story until we have pebbles" (14). For FG, Aesop and his listeners watch what happens at a neighboring stall, where two women want the same amphora. Aesop wisely proclaims "This is even better than a story, I'd say" (17). Of course the two handles break off and the pottery seller demands payment. One woman says "It wasn't that nice, anyway!" For TMCM, Aesop claims to sell peace. Indeed, he says, I am the richest man in Greece! Aesop goes on to tell the tale of the dung-beetle and the ant, with rain instead of snow. "You can't always count on kindness" (27). Flattery from the crowd enjoying his stories provokes Aesop to tell FC. DS gets introduced when a dog runs through the crowd with a piece of stolen meat. For non-human illustrations, try DW on 46-47. My! This is Aesop after my own heart!
2010 Phaedrus Construed: The Fables of Phaedrus Construed Into English. Paperbound. London/La Vergne, TN: Simpkin, Marshall, and Company/Kessinger Legacy Reprints. See 1847/2010.
2010 Phaedrus, Select Fables: Translated Literally In the Latin Order, For the Use Of Charterhouse School. Paperbound. London/La Vergne, TN: M. Sewell/Kessinger Publishing's Legacy Reprints. See 1853/2010.
2010 Rabbit and Turtle Go to School/Conejo y Tortuga van a la escuela. Lucy Floyd. Illustrated by Christopher Denise. Apparent first printing. Paperbound. Boston: Green Light Readers: Level 1: Sandpiper: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $1.98 from Powell's, Portland, OR, July, '11.
This is a fine reader for little kids beginning their reading of stories. Rabbit goes by foot, while Turtle takes the bus. Rabbit's big mistake is stopping for a snack along the way, perhaps because he sees that the bus makes stops. As they go into school, Turtle suggests that they race again tomorrow. He will give Rabbit a head start.
2010 Reynard the Fox In South Africa Or Hottentot Fables and Tales. W.H.I. Bleek. Hardbound. London/La Vergne, TN: Trübner and Company/Kessinger Publishing. See 1864/2010.
2010 Robert Henryson: The Testament of Cresseid & Seven Fables. Translated by Seamus Heaney. First printing. Paperbound. London: Faber and Faber. $11.35 from Warnock Books, Dublin, Ireland, through abe, Nov., '11.
This sturdy paperback includes seven of Henryson's thirteen fables, nicely translated, to judge from the first two, CJ and TMCM. Scots and English are presented on facing left and right pages, respectively. TMCM is particularly charming. The town mouse says to the country mouse that her own town Good Friday beats her sister's Easter Sunday. At the town meal they are mice and not humans and so they do not take any wine. Perhaps in the same spirit they do not say grace before the meal The first disruption is from a steward. The second comes from a cat who all but kills the country mouse before the latter can escape between the drapes and the wall. Other fables here include LM, "The Preaching of the Swallow," "The Fox, the Wolf and the Carter"; "The Fox, the Wolf and the Farmer"; and FM. Henryson's fables are full of allusion and detail and extend at times to twelve pages per fable. The hardbound version was apparently first published in 2009.
2010 Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary. David Sedaris. Illustrations by Ian Falconer. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. NY: Little, Brown, and Company. Gift of Molly Davies, Nov., '11.
This is a wonderful little book! Sedaris is wise to title the book from "Squirrel Meets Chipmunk" after a delightfully whistful story. These strong stories are, I would say, one step beyond Thurber. The characterization is pushed beyond the normal borders of fable, but the upshot is much the same as one finds from fables. We learn, that is, about human foibles. Often, as in Thurber and particularly in Bierce, there is a sudden turn at the end of the fable. Thus the bear that makes a habit of getting sympathy for the dead bear that she claimed as her mother finally takes an interest in another bear, only to be reduced like him to being a circus bear without teeth. Similarly, the mouse that keeps a pet snake ends up inside the snake. Some stories carve out a tone that goes far beyond what fable can normally do. I think particularly of "The Faithful Setter," a view of marital fidelity and infidelity (60). The most breathtaking piece might be "The Crow and the Lamb" (74), in which what looks like a pleasant conversation leads to a vicious attack by the crow on a newborn lamb's eyes. I have read twelve of the sixteen stories and enjo
2010 The Animal Fable in Science Fiction and Fantasy. Bruce Shaw. Foreword by Van Ikin. Paperbound. Jefferson, NC, and London: Critical Explorations in Science Fiction and Fantasy, #20: McFarland and Company. $17.50 from Powell's, Portland, Feb., '11.
I finally broke down and ordered this book, and now I regret it. Chapter 1 is "The Beast Fable," but my sense is that the author is concerned with any animal story in which the animal has human intelligence. Animal fable and animal fantasy meld as a platform for recent science fiction stories involving animals. Ovid and Apuleius are mentioned in the same breath with Aesop as sources for what happens with "animal fable" today. This book will mean more to others to come, and so I am happy to include it in the collection.
2010 The Christian Aesop: Ancient Fables Teaching Eternal Truths. W(illiam) H(enry) Anderdon. Paperbound. London/LaVergne, TN: Burns, Oates, and Company/Kessinger. See 1871/2010.
2010 The Christian Aesop: Ancient Fables Teaching Eternal Truths. W(illiam) H(enry) Anderdon. Hardbound. London/Roseburg, OR: Burns, Oates, and Company/Premier Books. See 1871/2010.
2010 The Fabled Fifth Graders of Aesop Elementary School. Candace Fleming. First edition, first printing. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. NY: Schwartz and Wade Books: Random House. $11.99 from amazon.com, Feb., '11.
For a change of pace, I will quote here in its entirety Pamela Chambers' review on Examiner.com: "The Fabled Fifth Graders of Aesop Elementary School by Candace Fleming brings back the same wacky group of students and their even wackier, brilliant, well-traveled teacher, Mr. Jupiter, who were all introduced in The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School. Aesop and fables are not just words in the title. In this cleverly done sequel, Fleming creates chapters (fables) with their own morals a la Aesop. From the students' names (Stanford Binet: intelligent to the max; Calvin Tallywong: hates math; Rachel Piffle: only sounds are "pfft"; Bernadette Braggadocio: brags a lot, and so on) to the librarian's clever moniker: Paige Turner, the writing is exquisite, the vocabulary superb, and the humor taken to pleasantly ridiculous. Students will love it and adults will appreciate the more subtle laughs--but it's fun for all. Morals (of course) abound in this story, including: Things are never as bad as they seem.The true value of money is not in its possession, but in its use. Appearances can be deceiving. As with most short story collections, there is just enough description and just enough writing. What's important is included and those who have not read about these characters (and they are characters) in their fourth grade year will still be able to enjoy their final year at Aesop Elementary School." The dust-jacket identifies the proper age group as 7 to 11.
2010 The Fables of Medieval Armenia. Mkhitar Gosh, Vardan Aygektsi; Translator Hayastan Mashakaryan. Painter M.N. Moks. Paperbound. Yerevan: Publishing House Lusabats. $22.98 from Karo Yegyan, Yerevan, Armenia, through eBay, August, '11.
This is a delightful 119-page paperback with a T of C at the back. Fables are presented either one or two to a page, with the left page presenting the Armenian and the right page the English translation. Above and on the outside edge of both pages are colorful transfer-like illustrations, which occur in reverse on the opposite page. The effect is pleasing! Many of the fables are recognisable old Aesopic fables. New favorites for me include "The Owl and the Mother Quail" on 19 and "The Kites and the Eagles" on 21. This version substitutes Aramazd for Zeus in the story of the snake with the flower in its mouth (29). There are occasional glaring typos.
2010 The Fox and the Hare: Russian Folktale. Retold by Vladimir Dal; translated by Hannah Tabakh. Illustrations by Francesca Yarbusova. Hardbound. San Francisco: Rovakada Publishing. $17.95 from Green Apple, San Francisco, June, '13.
This is a borderline member of a fable collection. I was attracted by the book, and it is a local Bay Area product. It represents a simple story of a hare's house taken over by a fox. She had lived in a "Crystal Palace" of ice, but when it melted she took over the hare's home. Three daunting would-be protectors are frightened off by the fox when they try to oust her: wolf, bear, and bull. Then the unlikely rooster threatens the fox and stays with his threats until she vacates. The rooster and the hare live together then in their cozy wooden hut. One of the best of the illustrations occurs after the bull has been scared off. The hare lies desolate and crying on the ground, separated even from his knapsack, in an almost entirely dull brown scene. The dark silhouette of the fox glares menacing against white in the house's window. The book is simple fun, nicely illustrated.
2010 The Frog Prince and Other Frog Tales From Around the World. Collected and edited with an introduction by Heidi Anne Heiner. Paperbound. San Bernardino, CA: SurLaLune Fairy Tale Series: SurLaLune Press. $22.49 from Amazon, April, '14.
This is a sturdy, well executed "print to order" book. It includes sections on Frog Kings, Princes and Bridegrooms; Frog Brides; Frog Wooing and Courting; More Frog Tales; Fables; and a one-member section of "Additional Materials," including only "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County." The fable section includes items #66 through 93 and covers 232-270. The fables attributed to Aesop are presented in the versions of Thomas James and Joseph Jacobs. The versions of both are presented for "The Hares and the Frogs" (233); OF (239); and FK (241). The story about three fish from the Panchatantra here includes a frog named "Single Wit." His one reaction outdoes the reactions of the supposedly smart fishes, named "Hundred Wits" and "Thousand Wits." Particularly well told is "The Frog, the Craw-fish, and the Serpent" (257). Watch out! That story takes a second turn.
2010 The Lion and the Mouse: An Aesop Fable Retold and Illustrated by Bernadette Watts. Second printing. Paperbound. NY, London: North-South Books. See 2007/10.
2010 The Tortoise or the Hare. Toni Morrison & Slade Morrison. Illustrated by Joe Cepeda. Apparent second printing. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. NY: Books for Young Readers: A Paula Wiseman Book: Simon & Schuster. $11.94 from Powell's, Portland, July, '11.
About seven years earlier, Toni and Slade Morrison did three books of fables for Scribner's, all beginning with the question "Who's Got Game?" Their artist in all three of those was Pascal LeMaitre. Now here is a new offering with a different artist and publisher. Jimi Hare cannot help himself. He is fast! He is known as a show-off and travels alone. Jamey Tortoise cannot help himself in a different way: he is smarter than everyone else. He studies alone. The newspaper announces a contest, a race whose winner gets a golden crown. Jimi and Jamey both sign up. Jamey calls the newspaper and asks which story interests the paper more: the winner who loses or the loser who wins. The fox reporter loves both stories and says so. Jimi asks the reporter what gets more attention: the largest crowd and or the loudest cheers. The answer is the same. When the race starts, Jamey takes off fast and Jimi goes straight to the bus stop. During the day he travels on bus, train, boat, and plane. Jimi entertains the crowd all day with stunts. Jimi came in first, Jamey second. (There seem to be only these two contestants.) Since the reporter knew the story of the tortoise and hare, she had expected the opposite. So her headline was "Winner loses! Loser wins!" Jimi says he won because he has the crown. Jamey says he won because he has the headline. The last page shows them shaking hands and declares "It's not the race. It's not who wins. It's when the runners become good friends." This is a lively and engaging presentation, if a bit far-fetched.
2010 The Trousers: Parables for the 21st Century. Shlomo Kalo; English translation by Philip Simpson. Cover painting by Michael Delacroix. Paperbound. Jaffa, Israel: D.A.T. Publications. Gift of D.A.T. Publications, Dec., '11.
Here are twenty-five short narratives. I have read several, including the key stories pointed out by the author: "The Trousers" and "The Hump." As the publisher's letter to me suggests, these two stories offer the situation and a possible solution. "The Trousers" portrays people in the grip of a serious malady asking God for help. God offers help in the form of a humanly clad angel who announces that he is there to save them. Nobody pays attention. Why? One of the townsfolk tells him that his trousers are outmoded. So he gets stylish trousers and again announces salvation. Again, no one responds. Why? Because, he learns, people do not trust someone is such stylish trousers. The angel says to God that they do not want to be saved, and he is removed from the scene. The malady only gets worse, people stop praying and do not even believe in God. In "The Hump," a generous boy protects and loves a girl mocked for her hump. One day he gets the offer to receive her hump for one day. He bears it well, but she becomes self-centered and rejects him coldly. When the switch is made back, he gets a chance to trade again, but this time he gets to specify the time, even up to "forever." He chooses to take on the hump forever, but she will not let him. As she says to him, "I have learned from you what love is." In that moment the hump leaves her. In other stories, a man fleeing a tiger finally turns and confronts it, only to learn that it is a harmless cat. The one man with courage to brave a river full of monsters to marry the princess finds out that the monsters are lifeless, and he achieves his goal. These are stories of a true believer. They do reach as parables beyond themselves to suggest a whole approach to life. Is there a reason why the engaging cover-picture is presented with the writing mirror-backwards?
2010 Three Hundred Aesop's Fables: Illustrated Facsimile Edition. Literally translated from the Greek by the Rev. Geo. Fyler Townsend, M.A. With one hundred and fourteen illustrations by Harrison Weir. Paperbound. Rockville, MD: Wildside Press LLC. See 1885?/2010.
2010 Wolf Fables. Pie Corbett. Illustrated by Ester Garcia Cortes, Inge-Marie Jensen, and Scott Plumbe. Paperbound. Oxford: Tree Tops, Stage 9: Oxford University Press. $12.40 from Better World Books, Jan., '14.
"Three fables, originally from Ancient Greece." WSC, BW, and "The Wolf and the Goat." Good tellings by Pie Corbett. One of the best illustrations shows the wolf dreaming of eating: he sits at a table with a nice bib, holding a knife and fork! In this version, the shepherd chooses this "sheep" because it is the thinnest. And he does not discover its true character until the wife is preparing to roast it! In BW, the shepherd boy plays his trick "again and again." A pack of wolves arrives on the scene. The wolves take all the sheep. The third story is usually told, I believe, with a fox tricking the goat into the well as a ladder to let him climb out. All three of the artists with their divergent styles do a creditable job with their tales. Well done!
2010 Yisuo Yuyan (Aesop's Fables) (Chinese). Hardbound. Hunan Juvenile & Children's Publishing House. 38 Yuan from Hangzhou Wholesale City Trading Co., Nov., '10.
This is an impressive book! Its stiff cover and considerable weight are the first features one might notice. Then there is the picture of Zeus on the cover in a dramatic pose. Each of 141 fables gets a page of text and a full page of illustration. The artistic styles of the illustrations vary considerably. Most tend toward what I think art critics would call "primitive" in the best sense. Among the most engaging of the illustrations are TH (71), BW (75), GGE (99), FS (113), "The Boys and the Frogs" (117), MSA (121), TB (165), and "The Lion, the Ass, and the Fox" (207). On 119, are the servant girls killing the alarm-clock-rooster by scalding it with boiling water? This book is a genuine and delightful surprise to me. Well done!
2010 You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Fables to Read Together. By Mary Ann Hoberman. Illustrated by Michael Emberley. First edition, first printing. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. NY: Megan Tingley Books: Little, Brown and Company. $11.08 from Amazon.com, Oct., '10.
The format of this book uses colors to indicate alternating readers within its thirteen fables. As the introduction proclaims, "You take one voice, I, the other; then we read to one another." The moral is in a different color and is to be proclaimed chorally. Before and alongside that introduction, we see two characters dressing up in seven steps as TM and CM. In the first fable, TH, we notice that the alternating characters not only have different colored texts, but the texts rhyme and are set into different columns. With almost every pair of statements comes a strong cartoon of the specific action, so that in TH there are eight different scenes presenting the action. In TH, the two racers ride bicycles -- and of course wear helmets! BW has the shepherd boy crying out "Wolf!" every day. His sheep read books, play cards, and ride bicycles. The townsfolk are in Fitzpatrick's having a beer -- and stay there finally on the catastrophic day. City Mouse is a female flapper (14). The cow in DM drives a tractor. In FG, three grapes are little purple people with voices (18-19). "When you cannot have a share,/Don't pretend you do not care." Particularly well done for children is "The Peacock and the Crane" (20-21): good looks are not everything. SW involves more creative visualizing (24-25) even though the bet is poorly conceived. "Make him take off his warm coat if you can." In GA, the ant drives a tractor. The ending of GA seems to me unresolved. The ants seem to come out with food for the grasshopper and to dance around his fire. There is no suggestion in the text that they help him. The last words from one of them are "Don't bother me!" In LM, the mouse deliberately tickles the lion's nose (30-31). This book represents a great way to experience fables!
2010/11 El libro de las fábulas. Adaptación de Concha Cardeñoso Sáenz de Miera. Ilustrado por Emilio Urberuaga. Segunda edición. Hardbound. Barcelona: Combel Editorial. £14.85 from AwesomeBooks.com, April, '12.
This book represents an important contribution, I believe, to the fable tradition. Generally, each fable takes two pages, and generally there are two images for each. Urberuaga's style, which seems to me similar to that of Quentin Blake, brings a good sardonic punch to the illustration of these sixty-four fables. Let me mention some particularly good images. The rabbit walks away from the deep well, as only the lion's tail is still above the surface (29). The two images work together well on 54-55 to give an image of the frogs' peace and then their consternation when the bull approaches. There is a similar striking contrast between the peaceful lamb lapping up water on 56 and the bloody lambskin left on a tree by the wolf on 57. The very next fable contrasts well the antics of the monkey on 58 with his trappedness as he holds the bait apple on 59. On 66 a cat walks along contented with a mouse-tail hanging out of its mouth; on 67 a whole congregation of mice surround and look at a bell but do nothing. TT here seems to have not a turtle but a frog who plummets to his death (79-81). FK gets two delightful illustrations (96-99), with the latter again showing a frog's legs extending from the stork's beak. The dolphin has a great expression on 108 as he lets his lying monkey sink. "The Fox and the Drum" (150-51) makes a fine cover picture for this excellent book. The drum is split and the fox walks away disappointed.
2010/14 Wolf Fables. Pie Corbett. Illustrated by Ester Garcia Cortes, Inge-Marie Jensen, and Scott Plumbe. Paperbound. Oxford: Tree Tops, Level 10: Oxford University Press. $13.64 from Supanews, Brisbane, Australia, March, '14.
I bought a second copy of this book by mistake, but it turns out to be quite distinct. The pages inside are identical, and so is the basic picture on the front cover. Changed are most of the classifications and logos around these elements. The front cover, for example, adds "Myths and Legends" to the "Tree Tops" name and logo in the upper left of the front cover. The latter's logo has also changed. "Oxford" in the lower right is moved and its background color has changed. On the back cover, this book was in "Stage 9" and "KS2 Book Band Y3 Brown." Now it is in "Book Band 12 Brown" and "Oxford Level 10." The format of the back cover and of the inside front cover has also changed. As is clear from the same six titles listed in them, "Stages 9 and 10" have become "Levels 10 and 11." As I wrote of that book, it advertises "Three fables, originally from Ancient Greece." WSC, BW, and "The Wolf and the Goat." Good tellings by Pie Corbett. One of the best illustrations shows the wolf dreaming of eating: he sits at a table with a nice bib, holding a knife and fork! In this version, the shepherd chooses this "sheep" because it is the thinnest. And he does not discover its true character until the wife is preparing to roast it! In BW, the shepherd boy plays his trick "again and again." A pack of wolves arrives on the scene. The wolves take all the sheep. The third story is usually told, I believe, with a fox tricking the goat into the well as a ladder to let him climb out. All three of the artists with their divergent styles do a creditable job with their tales. Well done!
2010? Classical Fable Stories. Paperbound. Wuhan, China: Hubei Fine Arts Publishing House. $5 from Jeremy Weiss, Sleepy Hollow, NY, through eBay, Feb., '12.
Here is a shiny large-format booklet of 32 pages presenting BW. Apparently the special appeal of this publisher or of this series is that it can be read with a talking pen, featured on the first page. The outdoor life of the animals seems sentimentalized. They have picnics, and they play checkers. The third event turns out to be the disaster for the boy. The wolf eats all of the sheep. The boy learns, stops lying, and now plays his flute, as the idyllic life seems to have returned to the mountainside. Seven other booklets are shown on the back page as members of the same series. I cannot be sure that they are all fables. The series is colorful if nothing else!
2010? Dheeraj's Panchatantra. Edited by Dr. Renuka Bose. Paperbound. Meerut, India: Fairy Tale Series: Dheeraj Publications. 40 Rupees from Children Book Centre, Kolkata, Dec., '13.
This book of thirty-one stories is surprising. It starts with a life of Gautama Buddha, includes fables from the Jatakas and Aesop, and advertises itself as "Panchatantra." Tales I have encountered as part of the Jatakas include "The Golden Deer" (29), "The Golden Goose" (36), "The Great Monkey King" (42), and "The Noble Stag" (61). The Aesopic stories I had not seen in Indian traditions include DLS (20), BW (126), MSA (132), and TH (137). Of course there are familiar stories from among those known as part of the Panchatantra, like "The Lion and the Cow" (55) and "The Woodpecker, the Tortoise, and the Antelope" (106). Thus "Panchatantra" seems to be understood here as a generic name for "fables." The opening short section on the Buddha has him recouonting the path of dharma thorugh stories of his previous births. "These have come to be called Panchatantra, some 547 of which are still in circulation today" (7). The second story tells of King Sivi, who gave his eyes to a blind man and was rewarded by the God Sakka with a new pair of eyes. DLS features a merchant who deliberately, removes his goods from a donkey's back, puts a lion's skin on the donkey, and lets him loose in the fields to eat (20). One group of plucky farmers bands together and kills the "lion." There is a crucial misprint of "leer" for "deer" on 30. Again, there is "looses" for "loses" on 41.
2010? Six Little Fables. Mark Weiss. Hardbound. NY: Mark Weiss Studio. $12.19 from Robinson Street Books, Binghamton, NY, through abe, Feb., '12.
This is a tasteful, thoughtful, creative little book. Each of its six stories is based on a still life photograph offered by the studio. The stories are creative, with unexpected turns and worthy lessons. In the first, a squash gets separated from her longtime lover, but is consoled by a friend who advises that staying on the vine means only rotting. She meets another squash and the second last thing she hears is "Absolutely delicious!" and the last is "That's because it's made with love." In the second, a poodle named Scarlet laments that she is not a prize-winner. At the competition, rain ruins the coiffures of all the prize-winners, but Scarlet runs and jumps into every puddle, loving every bit of it! In the third, Rex the rabbit has had all the greens in the forest and so goes into the next forest, a city. He finally finds there the leafy greens after which he lusts, but at the price of being caged by one of the inhabitants. The pictures used for the six stories and others are included in a set of art stamps in cellophane at the back of the book as issued.
2011 A Guided Tour Through the Museum of Communism: Fables from a Mouse, a Parrot, a Bear, a Cat, a Mole, a Pig, a Dog, & a Raven. Slavenka Drakulić. First printing. Paperbound. NY: Penguin Books. $12.35 from Alibris, April, '11.
This book has snuck up on me. I ordered it for the collection only because it included "fables" in its subtitle. I have avoided cataloguing it, suspecting that I would be frustrated at the applied sense of "fables" it would undoubtedly use. It is true that these chapters are no fables, at least to judge from a careful study of the first chapter. But what has surprised me is the engaging and utterly accurate account of life in a communist world. I have been particularly interested in that life since I visited a number of Eastern European communist countries during my doctoral studies in Germany. My brother John and I paid a fascinating visit to the new DDR Museum in Berlin two years ago. As does that museum, this book gets the sense of life in that communist world right with surprising accuracy and nuance. For at least that first "fable," it works wonderfully to have Bohumil, the mouse who has taken up residence at the museum of communism, be the narrator to the visiting rat, Hans. The chapter ranges over key subjects like living in fear, living in want, being watched, censoring oneself, having heroes of freedom, having their reputation tarnished, and the quick and unlamented demise of a system by which millions of people lived. I recommend the book highly to anyone interested in what Eastern Europe experienced between World War II and the Velvet Revolution.
2011 Aesop and the Imprint of Medieval Thought: A Study of Six Fables as Translated at the End of the Middle Ages. Jacqueline de Weever. Paperbound. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and Company. $38 from Jaxboox, through Amazon.com, Nov., '11.
This study presents a close reading of the prologue and six fables from two early printed editions of Aesop's fables: Spencer Ger's Latin "Esopus Moralisatus" (1497) and "Aesopi fabule" (1526) in Parmigiano, a dialect of northern Italy. The fables are TMCMC, LM, "The Nightingale and the Sparrow Hawk," WL, "The Fly and the Ant," and "The Donkey and the Lap-Dog." As the back cover proclaims, "The selected fables highlight imbalances of power, different stations in life, and the central qeustion of "how shall we live?" The writer is interested in the "voices of the page," which include those of the poet, the translator, the manuscript writer, the commentator, the glossator, and the speaker. De Weever mentions that the text he calls "Esopus Moralisatus" has three other names: "The Fables of Walter of England"; "Anonymous Neveleti"; and "Elegiac Romulus." He is much taken with "materialist philology" which studies all that can and does make it onto a page: text, quotes and actions from characters in the text, translation, note, comment, gloss. Each of these has a voice. He focuses on three of Nojgaard's four original features of the Romulus collection: "a novel treatment of Aesopian matter"; "a certain Eastern tinge"; "inspiration drawn from literary sources"; and "a structural moralization which attests an unshakeable faith in the moral worth of everyday life" (17). (The second of these four will not be a focus for De Weever.) I took only a brief look at the handling of the first fable, WL. I was surprised at how close the two versions are. De Weever is -- true to his first chapter -- alert to the various voices that come off the page in things like word choice, translation, and gloss.
2011 Aesop Cop, Volume One. Franklin Crawford, Versifier. Rigel Stuhmiller, Illustrator. With a Forward by C. Penbroke Handy. Paperbound. Berkeley: Tomorrow John Press. Gift of Susan Carlson, Dec., '14.
The back cover of this 40-page booklet speaks of "an Aesop-inspired morality poem about notable crimes." Is that "forward" by Handy a deliberate play on the standard "foreword"? In it Handy, editor of tinytowntimes.com, a blog in Crawford's home town of Ithaca, NY, writes that "Crawford chose to versify petty crimes of nominal import then added a quirky, often nonsensical, moral." For Handy it is the art of Stuhmiller that raises this book to art. Each of eighteen stories follows the same two-page format. On the left-hand page is a title and a police report. On the right-hand page is verse and moral set within a full-page illustration. These illustrations remind me of the chromolithographs of Walter Crane. The second story, "Grand Farcery," is a good example. Its last lines are "O! What a farce when we/Land on our arse and we/Get popped for grand larceny." The moral is "Since all the world's a stage, always have an exit strategy." Among the more curious police reports is that in "Play It Straight." The report here is of "a subject walking strangely and carrying a cello case." Another caller reports finding a fork in her shower. My prize overall goes to "The Russian Hairdresser's Boy Toy." All in all, this booklet represents one of the weirdest uses of Aesop's name that I have known.
2011 Äsop: Die Fabeln. Neu erzählt von Gisbert Haefs. Mit Bildern von Fulvio Testa. Erste Auflage. Hardbound. Cologne: Boje Verlag in der Bastei Lübbe. €15.88 from Amazon.de, August, '12.
Here is the German version of the very good fable book published in 2010 in English by Andersen Press. As I wrote there, Testa's style remains similar to the style he showed in his 1989 Barron edition encompassing twenty fables. Here he has tripled the number of fables. The inspiration of some scenes remains the same. The illustrations there were branded by the unusual multi-colored borders. Here the illustrations take up the whole of each right-hand page, while texts are on the left-hand pages. The sleeping hare there had been playing solitaire. Now he is on an ipod (title-page and 31)! WC there and here are the same in inspiration, but the venue has changed (11). The cover has a fine FC, which can also be found on 15. There is real distance between these two characters! FS (29) may have improved. "The Tortoise and the Eagle" (33) is a fine illustration; it gives us a sense of the proud tortoise's smallness. I love the cat hanging with one eye open and fixed on the mouse under the dresser (35). DLS is told twice to accommodate two different versions (38-41). "The Lion, the Bear and the Fox" (86) does a good job of showing the large beasts' exhaustion. This version substitutes a trap of sticks for the hunter's bow in AD (74). "The Lion, Ass, and Fox" is also well done: I have seldom seen such a pile of booty (89)! There is a small head-piece for each text besides the full-page illustration. The two illustrations often work together well. A good example is FWT (84): the headpiece illustrates the trap and the severed tail. The full-page illustration shows the fox without a tail trying to persuade the other foxes to get rid of their tails too. The rhyming morals added here are often quite clever. This is one of several books I found visiting Germany. I had too much luggage so I ordered them as soon as I arrived back home!
2011 Aesop Dress'd or a Collection of Fables Writ in Familiar Verse. Bernard Mandeville. John S. Shea. Paperbound. : Dunda Books. $9.95 from amazon.com, Dec., '11.
The original book of this title was published by Lock's-Head in London in 1704. I have a reprint of that edition by The Augustan Reprint Society (Publication Number 120) at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library at UCLA. That reprint was done in 1966. There is also a disc of this collection circulating these days. As I wrote of the Augustan Reprint, the book contains thirty-eight fables, almost all from LaFontaine, done in couplets apparently based on the rhythms of Samuel Butler. They move along swiftly enough. LaFontaine is clearly behind this work. This book is a reproduction of that book, printed on demand. Like other "printed on demand" books, it lacks illustrations and a modicum of respect for verse. The scanning machine jams poetry lines together as though they were prose. Apparently no one at Dunda Books checks to see if the product is at all a representation of the original. Here it is not. Neither this book nor the website for Dunda Books seems to give a place where the press exists. 84 pages. There is a familiar colored woodcut on the cover.
2011 Aesopic Conversations: Popular Tradition, Cultural Dialogue, and the Invention of Greek Prose. Leslie Kurke. First printing. Paperbound. Princeton, NJ: Martin Classical Lectures: Princeton University Press. Gift of David Johnson, July, '11.
This book is both daunting and fascinating. I look forward to it. It covers a great deal of territory and thus seems worthy of a series like the Martin Classical Lectures. For now, I have to be contented here to quote the back cover's description of Kurke's work. "Examining the figure of Aesop and the traditions surrounding him, Aesopic Conversations offers a portrait of what Greek popular culture might have looked like in the ancient world. What has survived from the literary record of antiquity is almost entirely the product of an elite of birth, wealth, and education, limiting our access to a fuller range of voices from the ancient past. This book, however, explores the anonymous Life of Aesop and offers a different set of perspectives. Leslie Kurke argues that the traditions surrounding this strange text, when read with and against the works of Greek high culture, allow us to reconstruct an ongoing conversation of "great" and "little" traditions spanning centuries. Evidence going back to the fifth century BCE suggests that Aesop participated in the practices of nonphilosophical wisdom (sophia) while challenging it from below, and Kurke traces Aesop's double relation to this wisdom tradition. She also looks at the hidden influence of Aesop in early Greek mimetic or narrative prose writings, focusing particularly on the Socratic dialogues of Plato and the Histories of Herodotus. Challenging conventional accounts of the invention of Greek prose and recognizing the problematic sociopolitics of humble prose fable, Kurke provides a new approach to the beginnings of prose narrative and what would ultimately become the novel. Delving into Aesop, his adventures, and his crafting of fables, Aesopic Conversations shows how this low, noncanonical figure was--unexpectedly--central to the construction of ancient Greek literature."
2011 Aesop's Fables. Beverley Naidoo. Illustrations by Piet Grobler. First printing. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. London: Frances Lincoln Children's Books. £14.99 from Blackwell, Oxford, August, '11.
This book put together by two persons who grew up in South Africa is a serious addition to the Aesop tradition. Its particular niche is that it uses African animals in otherwise perfectly traditional Aesopic fables. Thus we have jackal for fox, tamboti for oak, warthog for boar, and kudu for stag. I find both the tellings and the illustrations unusually attentive to the working of the tales. That attention is born out in Naidoo's "Dear Reader" that immediately precedes the fables: "Aesop's fables aren't like fairy tales from Europe with 'happy ever after' endings. They are much more like traditional African stories. Life is tough.and things can end badly for anyone who doesn't watch out or use their wits!" (7). That introduction argues even that Aesop's background was African. Naidoo pays good attention to both the tellings and morals. Thus the "Old Lion" story is moralized this way: "Not everyone is fooled by an old trick" (9). And in "The Eagle and the Tortoise," the tortoise claims "I can wave my flippers in the air. Just get me up there and I'll show you" (10). I am surprised by the image of Aesop riding on a panther with his arms and legs bound (6). I would not have thought of that as a way to convey a captured slave! The illustrations are done with pencil and watercolors. I am delighted to welcome this new work to the collection!
2011 Aesop's Fables. Larry Bryant Glisson. Illustrated by Ernest Griset. First printing. Hardbound. Gainesville, FL: www.thelivingclassics.com: Doberwarez Multimedia. $26.28 from amazon.com, Sept., '11.
"160 Classic Lessons in Ethics, Critical Thinking and Common Sense With More Than 150 Colorized Nineteenth-Century Engravings." So says the back cover. It is fascinating for me to see Griset colorized. I wonder what his response would have been. Among the successes here might be the two pictures on the covers, WL and "The Man Who Dropped His Axe." Others would be DS (7), "The Man and the Snake" (12), FC (77), "The Thief and the Dog" (93), and "The Elphant and the Animal Assembly" (139). There are more garish results elsewhere. Unusual results come when flesh tones and little else is filled in, as in "Aesop and His Fellow Servants" (72) and "The Sea and the Rivers" (79). Here the fables are usually one to a page, sometimes with a text facing an illustration. No fable seems to run over onto a second page. I remain fascinated that Griset ventured to put three foxes onto his illustration for FG, while I think that this fable demands a single fox doing whatever he does (45). There is a T of C after 178.
2011 Aesop's Fables. Retold by Margaret McAllister. Illustrated by Amanda Hall. First edition, first printing. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. Oxford: The Lion Classic: Lion Children's: Lion Hudson. £10.67 from Awesome Books, Wallingford, UK, April, '12.
I agree with the back cover of both the book and the dust-jacket: "A perceptive retelling of 28 classic fables, full of wit and wisdom, and a book to treasure for a lifetime." This is a worthy recent entry into the long fable tradition. The texts of the fables seem lively and engaging. The illustrations are done, one or two to each story, in a primitive style that I find engaging. Do not miss, for example, the matching pictures of father and daughters (35 and 36). Again, two images portray four excellent faces for FS (54-55). And again in SW, there are two strong contrasting images (82-83). Do not miss finally the dramatic second image in BW (119). Each story's title is marked with a standard image: Are those olives or grapes? And each fable's moral is framed in a standard box with an accompanying animal. As is utterly appropriate for this book's approach to Aesop, the author adds a good pair of pieces at the end on Aesop and on herself.
2011 Aesop's Fables. Translated by Wuli Li Yuliang. Illustrator NA. Paperbound. Beijing: Spring Series: Hebei Education Publishing Press. See 2006/11.
2011 Aesop's Fables. Ronald Keller. #7 of 50 copies; signed by Ronald Keller. Hardbound. Bremen, Maine and New York, NY: Red Angel Press. $650 from The Veatchs Arts of the Book, Northampton, MA, June, '11.
This is a strange treasure! It is surely one of the curiosities of this collection. Keller explains: "The fables are illustrated by cast paper images of architectural adornments on buildings in the borough of Manhattan, New York City." Nideggen paper. 9½" square. 14 pages. Bound by the artist: tan cloth over boards with cast paper bas relief of "Aesop" on front cover. Hand set and printed letterpress in American Garamond 648 by Ronald Keller. The deciding factor in the selection of fables chosen here are architectural elements represented in the bas reliefs. As Priscilla Juvelis explains in her advertising blurb on the book, "The animals portrayed are to be found on buildings in the Borough of Manhattan as an integral part of the facades - not as subsidiary features or stand-apart sculpture or plaza decoration. The animals portrayed are the Lion, Rat and Elephant, Bull, and Bear. Each bas-relief image faces its page of appropriate fables. These open first to the left, then top, bottom, and lastly, to the right, so that all images may be seen when the book is fully opened. The street address where the Lion, Rat and Elephant, Bull and Bear reside is printed below the cast paper bas-relief. A beautifully constructed book, with images of the familiar creatures of these fables that amuse as well as bring the stories to life. It is quite a task for a bas-relief, but these white paper casts are more than up to it as they fit so perfectly on the tan paper and are set off by the black ink." Do not miss the last page that turns up when all others have been opened; it contains Keller's signature and this copy's number. Strange and wonderful!
2011 Aesop's Fables. Rewritten by Gwen Petreman. Illustrated by Chris Stone. Paperbound. Trafford Publishing. $16.27 from Better World Books, Jan., '14.
The cover announces "Each fable has been rewritten at 3 different levels." This is a print-upon-demand paperback book in large format printed in January, 2014. Perhaps typical of such books is that it gives a web address for the publisher but no physical location for the book's printing. The book features twenty fables. One full-page design in white and three shades of black accompanies each fable and is repeated in smaller format. The fables are rewritten at three levels "to address the variety of reading levels found in all primary classrooms." From my survey of the fables, what changes from level to level is especially the qualification of things and actions. The vocabulary gets more extensive and specific with each level. The morals do not change from one level to the next. One can watch the progress from one level to the next, for example, in "The Dog and the Oyster": "He ate eggs every day" becomes "He ate eggs from the henhouse everyday" and then " "Every day he sneaked into the henhouse and snatched all the eggs!" In the first fable, "The Blue Heron," the fish rejected get larger in the second and third rounds. In La Fontaine's original, the best comes first -- carp and pike -- followed by the lesser tench and the even lesser gudgeon. After a period of finding no fish, La Fontaine's heron settles for the lowly snail. Here there are three rounds of bigger and bigger fish and then, after a whole afternoon of nothing, the snail. The best of the illustrations may be that for DS on 59. GA on 58 is well told in its third version. It avoids both the final encounter of grasshopper with ant and the resolution of the story. Instead it leaves the former sadly searching for food in the snow.
2011 Aesop's Fables. Translated by V.S. Vernon Jones. Illustrated by Arthur Rackham. Introduction by G.K. Chesterton. Paperbound. Kolkata: A Projapoti Paperback: Projapoti. 65 Rupees from Children Book Centre, Kolkata, Dec., '13.
Here is a paperback reprint of the Avenel version published in NY in the 70's or 80's. There is no reference to the original Rackham publication in 1912. The color illustrations are not included. The silhouette illustrations come out well, but some of the other black-and-white illustrations seem to have lost quite a bit. Examples are on 84 and 234. The covers offer a curious image of a procession of creatures along a road flanked by mushroom-like trees. The T of C covers some ten pages at the book's beginning.
2011 Aesop's Fables. Designed by Rangoli. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. Delhi: Shanti Publications. 150 Rupees from Children Book Centre, Kolkata, Dec., '13.
Here is a sturdy 144-page book with a fable on every page after the first six pages, which include a numbered T of C on 4-6. Each page has a strong colored cartoon at its top, and each adds a moral. I find it a good rendition of the fables with lively cartoons. There are some curiosities along the way. The shepherd's own goats on 7 are referred to as the "later" where we would say "latter." The same question arises with "betted" on 21. Why might "Rabbit and Frog" on 11 mention that the frogs overheard the rabbits' suicide plans? And why have the frogs jump out of the river rather than into it? The version of UP here has a wolf bringing the good news that there is no killing. In this version the hen in the tree sees a lion coming (29). "The Unfaithful Ass" (129) has the dying ass ask "Why the hell did I set out to fight?" We do not find that language in children's books here. Despite the little stumbling blocks I have mentioned, I find these stories and pictures well done.
2011 Aesop's Fables: a Pop-Up Book. Agnese Baruzzi. Hardbound. London: Tango Books. £11.93 from Awesome Books, Wallingford, UK, April, '12.
Here is the English version, attributed to Aesop, of a French version from the same year that is attributed to La Fontaine and published by Cerise Bleue: Les Fables de La Fontaine animees (Pop-up). As I wrote there, the designs seemed to me somehow familiar when I noticed that the "concept" belongs to Claire Littlejohn and Manth. The seven fables offered here are TH, "L'Ours et les Abeilles," FG, "Le Loup déguisé en Agneau," GA, DS, and LM. The best paper constructions might be the first two. The seven are listed on the back cover.
2011 Aesop's Fables: A Pop-Up Book of Classic Tales. Paper Engineering by Kees Moerbeek; Illustrated by Chris Beatrice and Bruce Whatley. First edition. First printing.. Hardbound. NY: Little Simon: Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing. $18.46 from Amazon.com, Oct., '11. Extra copy from Amazon.com for $18.47, October, '11.
This work is a triumph! It is wonderful! Five fables follow this pattern: a single fable gets a major pop-up in the center of its two pages. The early part of the story is in a small fold-out element in the lower left; the late part of the story is in a small fold-out element in the lower right. A moral occurs in a small paper-ploy in the upper right. This can be a level or a pop-up or another little use of the pop-up's possibilities. After three of these and before the last two is a different element. It has WS at its center; arranged around it are four other stories. In each, one lifts the cover to find a smaller fold-out that tells the story. The five major stories are GGE, FC, TH, LM, and GA. The smaller stories around WS are DS, TB, FG, and "The Horse and the Stag." Special prizes go to: the lower-right scene in FC, in which we can see the cheese dropping from the crow's mouth towards the fox; the lower-left opening scene in LM, which has the lion dangling the mouse in the air; and the upper-left story of DS, which includes a mirror in which we, like the dog, can see the bigger bone in the water. Most impressive construction among the five main stories might be FC. The crow and tree tower up further and further as the book is opened. Unfortunately, WS is told in the poorer version. This book is a genuine treasure. I am glad that I pre-ordered a second copy by mistake.
2011 Aesop's Fables Set in Verse. H. Jerome Alter. Paperbound. Published by H. Jerome Alter. $16.25 from Unbeatable Sale, Lakewood, NJ, through eBay, April, '14.
Here is a privately published, printed upon demand paperback book of some 153 pages after ten pages of introduction. Each fable gets a new page; a few run over onto a second page. As the back cover says, "On a light note, H. Jerome Alter has couched a selection of Aesop's fables in verse." The titles are original and clever. Thus the first fable about an eagle wounded by an eagle feather is titled "The Sharpest Irony" (1). Alter's morals can get topical, as in this very fable, which describes the attack on Pearl Harbor and then points out that we in the USA had shipped the Japanese the "steel to build the bombs to launch this war." I find the tellings of the fables lively here and engaging, though encumbered by the need to rhyme. That need creates some unusual word order. "The Foolish Lion" (5) is new to me. A hunter waits in a tree near the carcass of a stag partially eaten by a lion. When the latter returns, the former shoots him. "Nor would a thief in confidence sublime,/Revisit the location of his crime." I want to consult more of these lively texts for oral presentation in future lectures. The clever titles make finding a specific fable difficult. I could not find a version here of GA, for example.
2011 Ageless Fables. Rhymes by Seldon Thomas Childers. Illustrations by Diana Buck. Paperbound. Lexington, KY: Seldon Thomas Childers. $18.98 from Amazon.com, July, '12.
Apparently privately printed, though sold on Amazon. Forty fables on iv + 81 pages. 8" x 10". Each fable gets a two-page spread including a page of verse text sometimes with some colored ornament and a full-page colored illustration. A sampling of the texts suggests heavy influence from rhyme and meter; my test for that influence lies in filler phrases not needed by the story. The illustrations are lively and apt. "The Scorpion and the Frog" is a good early example (2). The Kirkus Review on the final page rightly praises this strophe in this fable: "'Whoa,' said Frog, 'Ya think I'm daft?/ To use my body for a raft,/ and haul a cargo such as you,/ one quick stick could kill us two!'" Besides other good traditional fables like GA, FC, TMCM, and DW, there are other stories here, like "The Three Pigs" (33). In this book's version of OF, the frog wants to be as big as a horse, and he tries to do it by drinking himself bigger (13). MSA here involves a horse, and there is a dramatic picture of the two humans carrying the horse (28). In FM, the hawk chooses to drop the mouse and grab the frog; how can he when they are tied to each other (45)? "Tassy" is about a Tasmanian Devil that spun everything level; he spun up his own ear and is now a level devil (57). The final page suggests that this is a "print on demand" book.
2011 Aisopos Fabler. Beverley Naidoo. Bild: Piet Grobler. Hardbound. Stockholm: Rabén & Sjogren. 179 Kroner from Akademibokhandeln, Stockholm, July, '14. 9613.
Originally published in 2011 in English as "Aesop's Fables" by Frances Lincoln Children's Books. On my last afternoon in Sweden, I asked at one bookstore on the way home and they directed me to their main store, where I found this book. It is as identical as a translated book can be, with the exception of the dust jacket that the English original had. As I wrote about the English original, this book put together by two persons who grew up in South Africa is a serious addition to the Aesop tradition. Its particular niche is that it uses African animals in otherwise perfectly traditional Aesopic fables. Thus we have jackal for fox, tamboti for oak, warthog for boar, and kudu for stag. I find both the tellings and the illustrations unusually attentive to the working of the tales. That attention is born out in Naidoo's "Dear Reader" that immediately precedes the fables: "Aesop's fables aren't like fairy tales from Europe with 'happy ever after' endings. They are much more like traditional African stories. Life is tough.and things can end badly for anyone who doesn't watch out or use their wits!" (7). That introduction argues even that Aesop's background was African. Naidoo pays good attention to both the tellings and morals. Thus the "Old Lion" story is moralized this way: "Not everyone is fooled by an old trick" (9). And in "The Eagle and the Tortoise," the tortoise claims "I can wave my flippers in the air. Just get me up there and I'll show you" (10). I am surprised by the image of Aesop riding on a panther with his arms and legs bound (6). I would not have thought of that as a way to convey a captured slave! The illustrations are done with pencil and watercolors.
2011 Bingsop's Fables: Little Morals for Big Business. Stanley Bing. Illustrations by Steve Brodner. First edition, first printing. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. NY: HarperCollins. $5.99 from amrolulu, Lake Hopatcong, NJ, on eBay, August, '11.
Here is another entry in the ongoing series of books using Aesop to say something about business life. The tenor of this volume is suggested by the titles of its first few fables: "Shit Flows Downhill, but Not Forever"; "The Human Resources Guy Who Became Something of a Hipster"; and "The Media Mogul Who Pissed Off His Limo Driver." Each fable has its own incisive drawing by Steve Brodner. Those illustrations seem to me to follow Charles Bennett: dressed up animals are nicely accented to suggest the ugliness of what is going on. In fact, more of Aesop may surface in those drawings than in the stories themselves. I appreciate the depiction of Bingsop's death in the "Translator's Note": an audience of drunken security analysts in Las Vegas attacked him when he did not sufficiently disguise his attacks on them! A "Final Note" on 219 pays good homage to Aesop. Bing found his fables at first often hard to decipher. "But after a while, as I made my way through them, it became clear to me that many of the lessons contained within were extremely germane not so much in everyday life but most certainly in the world of business, where foxes, wolves, lions, bears, and weasels still run free." So they do! The colored dust-jacket cover shows a sleeping Bingsop with Ipad, surrounded by dressed animals.
2011 Das Grosse Fabelbuch. Constanze Breckoff. Illustriert von Gerhard Glück. Hardbound. Oldenburg: Lappan Verlag. €18.65 from Amazon.de, August, '12.
This is one of several books I saw for sale in Germany, but my suitcases were already too full, and so I waited and ordered them here in the USA as soon as I got back. This book surprises. It seems another in the long list of standard children's fable books, but on examination both the texts and the illustrations are exceptional. The well chosen texts represent a wide variety of sources. One or two texts may not be fables. There are over one hundred well told stories here. The full-page colored illustrations in this large-format book are engaging. Those particularly well done include LM (21); "Warum Hund und Katze Feinde sind" (35); "Der Wolf als Schäfer" (58); and DW (79). A special treat comes in the two-page spreads of illustration, e.g., for "The Blue Jackal" (82-83) and "The Fox and the Lion" (136-37). I did not know "The Flying Fox" (142); do not miss the great illustration! The cover illustration shows the bear reading to the fox and crow, while the goose and rabbit look on from a little more distance. I am glad to have found this very nice book!
2011 Der Löwe und das Mäuschen: Nach einer Fabel von Aesop. Aesop. Illustrated by Susanne Göhlich. Hardbound. Zurich: NordSüd. €6.95 from Hassbecker's Galerie & Buchhandlung, August., '14
I visited Heidelberg early and late in this trip to Europe. During the early stop, I came by Hassbecker's but found nothing. The woman who has always been so friendly and helpful said that she would look for me and that I should stop back. I did happen to be in the territory three weeks later and stopped by to find this lovely little book of about eighteen pages. Its first unusual characteristic is that the pages feel more like plastic than paper. They are probably great for little people who might want to eat books or eat on them! The version is touching, starting from the mouse's natural curiosity. "Ausnahmsweise" is the heart of the lion's answer to the mouse's desperate plea. One of the best images of this fetching book is that of the mouse's hole, out of which he hears the lion's roaring. Curiosity is again the key: he wants to know what is behind the roaring. For the major actions of this version of the story, there are several other mice watching what this mouse does. There is no attempt in this version to make the lion and mouse companions or even friends beyond these events. But the point has already been made, "dass auch ein Mäuschen einem Löwen helfen kann."
2011 Die schönsten Tierfabeln. Erzählt von Ursel Scheffler. Mit Bildern von Hans-Günther Döring. Hardbound. Freiburg/Vienna/Basel: Kerle bei Herder. €19.95 from Amazon.de, August, '12.
Here are 58 fables with sprightly illustrations. The fun begins with the animal cartoons that surround the opening T of C. Even before then, there is a worm crawling on the final "N" of the book's title on the title-page. Among the best illustrations is one of those for TMCM that shows the two mice napping after enjoying the city-meal (11). Ants are having tea together underneath the stork's chair in FS (17). On 32, the monkey is enjoying nuts while the cat lies with both front paws bandaged! "Die neun dummen Wölfe" (58) is new to me but presented here as the oldest known fable, known from a clay tablet from Sumeria. Ten wolves draw ten sheep away from the flock. The wolf leader says to his fellow wolves "You are nine. Here is one sheep that is yours, and that makes ten. I and nine sheep also make ten. I am distributing fairly, ten to ten." All the wolves clamor their approval, and the leader makes off with the nine sheep. Among the best of these spirited illustrations is that of the dog who falsely accused the lamb and makes off with her wool. We see on 74 a lamb who has only a tuft left on her head and around her middle. Morals are rendered in rhyming verses. The moral of porcupines trying to live together (85) starts with these two lines: "Man kommt sich näher,/wenn man Abstand hält…." The crowe decked out in others' feathers is another masterpiece (89)! One of the best full-page illustrations presents the two goats arguing on the bridge (99). GA ends with a reconciliation and a personal concert for the ant (109). The six-page overview of the genre at the book's end is well done.
2011 El libro de las fábulas. Adaptación de Concha Cardeñoso Sáenz de Miera. Ilustrado por Emilio Urberuaga. Segunda edición. Hardbound. Barcelona: Combel Editorial. See 2010/11.
2011 Fable Stories. Illustrated by Liljana Arsovska and Nathan Jones. Paperbound. Chinese Classical Stories Series: China Intercontinental Press. $20.50 from Book-wholesale.com, Nov., '11.
Lively cartoon work to present a strong array of some thirty-nine Chinese fables. The English sometimes suffers, as on 13 when "again" appears twice in the same clause. The following story, "Sincerity Can Affect Even Metal and Stone" (15) does not make much sense to me. I think that I am missing something. "Mr. Dongguo and a Zhongshan Wolf" (26) uses the strong traditional motif of the judge who seems through stupidity not to comprehend -- until the culprit puts himself back into confinement. I enjoy encountering again "Add Feet to a Painted Snake," whose moral wisely admonishes "Sometimes, one ruins the effect of something by adding superfluous things" (70). On 92, we find the lovely fable of the man who drops his sword overboard in midstream but marks the boat so that he can later, nearer shore, jump over "at just the place" where he dropped the sword. On 107 we find "A Loss May Turn Out to Be a Gain," a fine story I first learned from Tony DiMello. Following that story on 112 is "Waiting by a Tree for a Hare to Turn Up," another very good story. "The Mantis Stalks the Cicada, Unaware of the Oriole Behind" (122). And the oriole is not aware of the human being with a slingshot. In this fable, we never learn who might be stalking the human being! "A Snipe and a Clam Locked in Battle" (160) shows nicely that it is the passing fisherman who wins in a battle like this! This story serves as a good example of the book's art. The artistic approach to human beings -- and to animals, for that matter -- is highly stylized. It seems to follow stylized patterns I have seen especially in Japanese illustrated material. "Breaking Arrows" (180) seems to come straight out of Aesop! "A Man from the State of Zheng Buys a Pair of Shoes" is a fine fable I have encountered before (185). This man trusts a ruler's measurement but not the source of the ruler's measurement, his own feet! The book's last fable, "Paradox" (194), presents well the salesman who touted both an unbreakable shield and an irresistible spear. The morals are helpful for pointing out the proverbial sense of a shortened expression of a particular fable. That proverbial sense is not always clear, I believe, to a foreigner like me.
2011 Fables. Sarah Goldstein. First edition. Paperbound. Grafton, Vermont: Tarpaulin Sky Press. $15.20 from Amazon.com, April, '13.
Here is Amazon's blurb on this book: "Departing from the Brothers Grimm to approach our own economically and socially fractured present, Sarah Goldstein's "Fables" constructs a world defined by small betrayals, transformations, and brutality amid its animal and human inhabitants. We hear the fragment-voices of ghosts and foxes, captors and captives, stable boys and schoolgirls in the woods and fields and cities of these tales. Anxious townsfolk abandon their orphan children to the nightingales in the forest, a bear deploys a tragic maneuver to avoid his hunters, and a disordered economy results in new kinds of retirements and relocations. Goldstein weaves together familiar and contemporary allegories creating a series of vibrant, and vital, tales for our time." I have read most of the entries in the second of five sections, titled, "Fables." These are short evocations of mysterious and regularly violent scenes. Dogs tree a bear, and the bear throws down pieces of himself until the hunters finally come to finish him off (25). Two girls match each other's dress and habits and begin to inhabit each other's lives. Their families, "inconsistent and self-centered," do not notice the switch. One disappears with her famiily that flees its debts. She writes to her abandoned doppelganger some time later "I love them and have left myself.I left myself so long ago, please, don't be angry" (16). Bracing stuff! Not fables at all, as far as I can tell.
2011 Fables d'Ésope. Adaptation de Jean-Philippe Mogenet. Illustré par Jean-François Martin. Hardbound. Toulouse, France: Milan Jeunesse. €16.90 from Lecume des pages, Paris, July, '12.
This large-format book offers twenty-six Aesopic fables with a distinctive illustration for each. The art makes abundant use of big spaces to make its good points about the fables. In twenty-four of the cases here, that means a full page of illustration. In the other two, it means a double-page. Both of those double-page illustrations are strong: "The Stag at the Pool and the Lion" (46-47) and "Goat and Wolf" (60-61). Other strong illustrations include WC (17); "The Lion and the Hare" (25, with a detail repeated on the title-page); "The Tortoise and the Eagle" (27); DS (35); and FG (51). Martin has a style all its own. It shows some dependency, I would say, on Art Deco. I am happy to see the French pay some attention to Aesop!
2011 Fables: Jean de La Fontaine. Illustrations Brigitte Susini. First edition. Paperbound. Paris: Hachette Livre/Gautier-Languereau. €4.68 from Amazon.fr, Oct. '11.
Thirteen fables of La Fontaine are presented here in a pleasing style in a book about 6¼" x 7". The fable text takes one page or, in two cases, two. The single text pages are all left-hand pages. The right-hand page then presents a full-page colored illustration. I am surprised at FC, which is also on the cover. Do we not need a crow in a tree to make this fable work? In the illustration for "The Lion Going to War," Susini cleverly hides the courier rabbit, just as the other animals overlook him (7). The illustration for GA (11) is surprisingly wistful and contemplative. The milkmaid on 19 is losing not only her pail of milk, shown here in mid fall, but some of her eggs besides. FG (21) is cleverly shown from above. The frog in OF has an overblown belly and chest that is wonderfully comic (31).
2011 Fábulas de Esopo: Un desplegable de cuentos clásicos. Montaje de Kees Moerbeek; Ilustrado por Chris Beatrice y Bruce Whatley. First edition. Hardbound. Barcelona: Art Blume, S.I. $29.94 from Powell's, Portland, July, '13.
I was happily surprised to find a Spanish copy of this fine work in my pilgrimage visit to Powell's. I find one major change from the English edition: GA is not presented. I will modify accordingly here what I wrote about the English edition of the same year. This work is a triumph! It is wonderful! Four fables follow this pattern: a single fable gets a major pop-up in the center of its two pages. The early part of the story is in a small fold-out element in the lower left; the late part of the story is in a small fold-out element in the lower right. A moral occurs in a small paper-ploy in the upper right. This can be a level or a pop-up or another little use of the pop-up's possibilities. After three of these and before the last one is a different element. It has WS at its center; arranged around it are four other stories. In each, one lifts the cover to find a smaller fold-out that tells the story. The five major stories are GGE, FC, TH, and LM. The smaller stories around WS are DS, TB, FG, and "The Horse and the Stag." Special prizes go to: the lower-right scene in FC, in which we can see the cheese dropping from the crow's mouth towards the fox; the lower-left opening scene in LM, which has the lion dangling the mouse in the air; and the upper-left story of DS, which includes a mirror in which we, like the dog, can see the bigger bone in the water. Most impressive construction among the four main stories might be FC. The crow and tree tower up further and further as the book is opened. Unfortunately, WS is told in the poorer version. This book is a genuine treasure.
2011 I.A. Krylov: Quartet (Russian). Various artists. Paperbound. Moscow: Skaski: Tales: Altey. $4.95 from Olga Sleptsova, Moscow, through eBay, August, '12.
This is one of five books in a series of "Tales" done recently by Altey. Three seem to fall outside the realm of fables. These are children's pamphlets of 12 pages, 6¼" x 9". This pamphlet contains five fables: "The Cock and the Cuckoo"; "The Ass and the Nightingale"; "The Monkey and the Spectacles"; "Quartet"; and "The Monkey and the Mirror." The illustrations are, for a young children's booklet, typically energetic and emphatic. The year of publication is given after each fable. "Quartet" is pictured on the cover.
2011 I.A. Krylov: Vorona u Licisa (Fox and Crow). Various artists. Paperbound. Moscow: Skaski: Tales: Altey. $4.95 from Olga Sleptsova, Moscow, through eBay, August, '12.
This is one of five books in a series of "Tales" done recently by Altey. Three seem to fall outside the realm of fables. These are children's pamphlets of 12 pages, 6¼" x 9". This pamphlet contains five fables: FC; WC; FG; WL; and "The Lion and the Fox." The last of these is excellent: the three illustrations match the short fable perfectly. People who impress us at first may turn out to be quite ordinary. The illustrations are, for a young children's booklet, typically energetic and emphatic. The year of publication is given after each fable. FC is pictured on the cover.
2011 Jean de La Fontaine en bandes dessinées. Various artists. Textes biographiques: Marion Lecoq. Paperbound. Editions Petit à Petit. €18.30 from Librairie Album, Paris, July, '12.
This book is based on a smaller-format, shorter hardbound book by the same publisher in 2006. Finding the book was a lucky moment during a chance stop at a corner bookstore for new books in Paris soon after my arrival. There are now seventeen fables included, six more than in the earlier volume. The new fables include "The Old Man and Three Youths"; "The Animals Sick from the Plague"; "The Two Roosters"; LM; BC; and "The Pig, the Goat, and the Lamb." Of these the firt two may be the strongest in their illustrations. Other additions include a beginning T of C and a pictured title-page for each fable. The eleven repeating cartoons are identical but larger here. As I wrote there, the fables are portrayed faithfully, each first in a normal text before its graphic presentation. Many fables are followed by a short section of La Fontaine's biography by Marion Lecoq. The back cover again offers a picture for each fable and the artist for the fable; now these cartoon titles follow the order in which they are found in the book. The artistic styles are highly different from each other. I mentioned there the strong impact made by CW by Eden Pacino and Boris Joly-Erard (41-52). The artists here are open to updating the fables. Thus the tortoise of TH (67-75) is a young woman with a huge backpack; she does carry her house! The cart that is stuck is really an autobus overloaded with baggage (77-84). This penchant may go too far in TT (97-107) when the birds' "machine" turns out not to be a simple stick but an air-balloon with two baskets connected with a stick. Why could the turtle not ride in one of the baskets?
2011 La Oveja negra y demas fábulas. Augusto Monterroso. Fourth edition. Paperbound. Madrid: Punto de Lectura: Santillana Ediciones Generales. $15.64 from UnbeatableSale Inc through eBay, Dec., '11.
Monterroso's work seems to be much reproduced. I now have editions produced in the USA, Mexico, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Great Britain, and (here) Spain. La Oveja Negra seems to have been copyrighted and originally published in 1969. The first edition of the present version was published in 2007; this is the fourth "Edicion," which I believe means "fourth printing" in this context. The standard -- wonderful! -- fables are here illustrated with generic clip-art illustrations of animals. There is something either very right or very wrong about that mode of illustration! There is an index of proper and geographical names and then a T of C at the back of the book. I am always happy to pay homage to Monterroso!
2011 Les Fables de l'Antiquité pour réfléchir. Isabelle Korda. Illustrations de Mauro Mazzari. Paperbound. Paris: Collection "Des mots pour réfléchir": Oskar Jeunesse: Éditions Oskarson. €9.70 from Gibert Joseph, August, '14.
Here is a book in series with another that I have already, "Les Fables de La Fontaine pour réfléchir," published one year earlier by the same company. Like that book, this book is fun! The drawing for DLS has a frightened lamb on one side of the donkey but a fox pulling off the lion-skin on the other (8). Here each of twenty-six Aesopic fables gets two pages, as is indicated in the T of C on 4-5. The first page presents the text and a humorous half-page colored illustration of the fable. In "The Old Lion and the Fox," for example, the fox stands outside the open mouth of a lion embedded in a mountain and surveys the bones and skeletons strewn about in front of this portal. The second page presents a case under the title "Par exemple," followed by a complicating comment ""Oui, mais." Last come a "conclusion" and a verbal game. Mazzari's illustrations are delightful! Good examples are SW (18); the farmer lighting the fox's tail on fire (24); "The Rabbits and the Frogs" (32); "The Dove and the Ant" (52); and "The Tortoise and the Eagle" (56). This is again great imaginative work!
2011 Les Fables de La Fontaine. Sylvie Martin. Illustrations by Anouk Lacasse. Hardbound. Les Éditions Coup d'oeil. $10 from Lisa Sheard, Hamilton, OH, through eBay, July, '13.
Here is a large-format (9" x 13") book presenting twenty fables with eight pages for each. The poetry text page at the beginning of each fable is formatted to look like a familiar old book with worn hinges. There are then prose texts along with the illustrations for each story. The colored art is done in broad strokes, sometimes taking a whole page, like the crow on 14, and sometimes smaller portions, like the mouse held by the lion on 19. The art might even be called primitive in the non-pejorative sense. Perrette goes through a significant sequence of emotions that are well pictured in MM (26-31). The artist gives us a good sense of La Fontaine's perception of the beginning of the TH race: the hare rests with a cocktail in a lawn chair while the race starts and the tortoise moves off (45). The frog in OF is a diminutive slender female who wants to put on weight. The ox recommends the "balloon" method to fill out, and she falls in love with the method! The approach of this art is especially appropriate, I believe, for TMCM, which is well presented (80-87). One of the best illustrations presents the wolf and lamb either as mirrored in the water or as seen from below the water-line (125). The front cover, the pre-title-page, and the back cover all bring together various characters from the fables in three different designs. Among the many big, inexpensive fable books that appear in France year after year, this is a favorite. T of C at the beginning.
2011 Les Fables de La Fontaine animees (Pop-up). Agnese Baruzzi. Hardbound. Paris: Cerise Bleue. €13.42 from Amazon.fr, Oct., '11.
These designs seemed to me somehow familiar when I noticed that the "concept" belongs to Claire Littlejohn and Manth. The seven fables offered here are TH, "L'Ours et les Abeilles," FG, "Le Loup déguisé en Agneau," GA, DS, and LM. The best paper constructions might be the first two.
2011 Les Fables de La Fontaine: Un livre-théâtre avec de magnifiques illustrations réalisées en papiers découpés. Illustratrice: Elsa Mora; Ingénieur papier: Julia Fröhlich. Hardbound. Paris: Éditions Auzou. €22.47 from Amazon.fr, Sept., '11.
What a piece of work! This oversize (13½" x 9¼") landscape book contains eight open-faced spreads of pages. On the left is a text. On the right is a stage frame with two dimensions of players and other items on the stage. The effect as the book is open to any given page is three dimensional. The artwork and papercutting are both splendid! The back-cover describes these as the eight "incontournables" fables of La Fontaine, which means something like "the eight that cannot be overlooked." They are FC, GA, TH, TMCM, OF, DW, LM, and FS. My favorites are OF, DW, and FS. I will be curious to see how the paper engineering lasts. For now, this book is a treasure!
2011 Lo Zoo della Favola/Fables from the Zoo. Çlirim Muça; English translation by Besjana Gorreja and Myfanwy Woods-Jack. Illustrazioni di Valentina Biletta. Paperbound. Rosignano Marittimo: Il mondo della favola: Albalibri Editore. $26.85 from Unbeatable Sale, Lakewood, NJ, June, '13.
Here is a surprising book. This paperback, almost square in format, presents original fables by Çlirim Muça, whose published works include "Cento e una favola." Seventy-two pages present thirty-three fables, each in a two-page spread including on the left a rough painting and on the right both an Italian and an English text. The paintings are in an unusual style somewhere between linocut and finger-painting. The fables are good contemporary attempts at animal fables. In only one case do I find Muça employing a traditional fable quite intact. "Forgiveness" on 35 is the standard story of confessed mortal sinners including the lion punishing the peccadillo-committing donkey. I find several fables quite fetching. "The Donkey and His Friends" (9) has the donkey teased because he has to work hard to carry water for major feasts. He says that he feels bad until he comes back to the stable to find that the calf, pig, and sheep are no longer there. The young elephant overthrows the old king elephant and has the scene carved on his tusks. The old elephant returns and fights, and the usurper's carved tusks break (47). A fox changes jobs and conducts a survey by telephoning the hare, who graciously describes "her favorite tunnel, her dietary habits and her leisure time" (55). The next morning the fox shows up outside the hare's favorite tunnel and eats her! The translation falls down a couple of times: a man and a fox "met one again" (41) and a rabbit on 71 asks a fox "How did you found me out?" That story, of a rabbit in a lion's skin, has in my opinion a slim chance of working.
2011 Luther's Aesop. Carl P.E. Springer. Paperbound. Kirksville, MO: Truman State University Press. Gift of Wendy Wright, Nov., '11.
Let me start with Springer's own summary. "The first chapter consists of preliminary considerations of Luther's relationship with the Greco-Roman classical tradition in general. The second examines his knowledge, use, and evaluation of Aesop's fables throughout the course of his life and work. The third chapter considers Luther's work as an editor of Aesop, paying special attention to the preface he wrote for the 1530 collection, which includes his most extensive thoughts on the person and work of Aesop and the value of his fables. The fourth offers searching (if not exhaustive) analyses of the narrative and didactic strategies Luther uses to tell and explain each of the fables included in the Coburg Collection. The final chapter studies Luther as a "fabulist" in his own right, examines the non-Aesopic fables he told and retold (including some of his own composition), and explores the question of his possible influence on later fable tellers and fable theorists, especially in Germany" (xiii). For me and perhaps for many readers, the most important chapters here are the third and fourth, where Springer translates Luther's preface and fables, respectively, from the Coburg Collection and comments extensively on them. That second chapter includes some 86 times in Luther's writings in which he cites or otherwise uses an Aesopic fable, and Springer comments that "this list is certainly incomplete" (72). Early satiric fables like DLS seem to predominate, e.g., for criticizing the pope, often just with a brief allusion to the fable. Later he became increasingly interested in the fable as a teaching tool, in school and around the dinner table. He began more to tell fables in their entirety. Luther prepared his edition of Aesop's fables in neither Latin nor Greek, but in German. Luther criticizes Aristotle and Epicurus, but he does not criticize Aesop. Nor does he Christianize him. "Luther hardly ever alludes to Christian teachings either in the fables or in the morals that follow them" (75). The fables are worth studying for their own sakes. Luther's prime analogate for the reception of fables is the family dinner table, not the school classroom. The thirteen fables of the unfinished Coburg Collection were first published a decade after Luther's death. A special gift is to have a good English translation of Luther's fables in Chapter Four. I am not sure I have seen the collection in English. Springer's emphasis here is on Luther's narrative genius and on his particular interpretation of the thirteen fables. Luther thought Aesop second only to the Bible for moral value. Luther was acquainted with some forty-four of Aesop's fables, listed with their Perry numbers on 36-37. DS was his favorite. In a turbulent life where Luther changed his opinions, Aesop's fables were something of a constant.
2011 Modern Fables. S. Michael Wilcox and Ted L. Gibbons. Illustrated by Mark McCune. First printing. Hardbound. Springville, Utah: Bonneville Books. $13.49 from Better World Books, April, '11.
There are nine fables in this lively and colorful landscape-formatted book, as the opening T of C makes clear. "The Snake Who Wanted to Put on Pants" (1) comes to the fine moral "If you can't do it alone, find a friend!" Sidney and Sabrina get into a pair of pants together and solve together the problem each had encountered alone. "Hamlet and the Fat and Filthy Friends" (6) features this great line: "The swill is swell if you don't mind the smell!" One of the best -- and squarely in the fable tradition -- is "Wild Weasel's Wit" (11). Wild Weasel outsmarts three animals and eats them, only to be eaten on just the same terms by Griff Grizzly: "Those who set traps for others often catch themselves." A prize goes to the illustration on 20 showing Arnold the Anteater's tongue probing through the front door of the ants' residence. On the very last page, many of the book's characters snooze peacefully together under a tree. There is both wisdom and fun here!
2011 Mouse & Lion. Retold by Rand Burkert. Pictures by Nancy Ekholm Burkert. First edition. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. NY: Michael de Capua Books: Scholastic. Gift of Mary Pat Ryan, July, '12.
What a gorgeous book! The pictures and the texts both treat the story reverently. I was not surprised that the creators of the book went to Africa to get the scenes right. Among the good touches here are the highlighting in the story's title of the primary role of the mouse. The mouse scrambled over a "tawny boulder," and the tawny boulder "rolled over"! The first picture of the slumbering lion is perfect. The mouse's first statement is "Sire, I took you for a mountain -- honestly!" Next the lion dangled the mouse over his menacing mouth, complete with yellowed teeth. The mouse promised to be brave and said he was loyal, and the lion asked him to show it. The mouse hurled himself around on grasses but flopped in trying to prove his bravery. The lion asked him how many battles he had fought, and the mouse replied that he tried to avoid battles. Then the mouse said that he might be able to help the lion in a pinch. After a good laugh, the lion actually extended his paw to be kissed, but the mouse was already tripping over his tail in running away. Another fine illustration has the two face-to-face after the mouse freed the lion. The lion went away thinking about little creatures. "That day, such small things made him happy!" I was so happy with this book that I immediately ordered the author's CD of songs based on Aesop's fables, apparently released only recently.
2011 Mr Aesop's Story Shop. Bob Hartman. Illustrated by Jago. First paperback edition, first printing. Paperbound. Oxford: A Lion Children's Book: Lion Hudson. $10.99 from Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, August., '13.
Here is a copy of the first printing of the first edition of the paperback book. The hardbound edition was published in 2010. The author declares in the introduction that he wanted to know more about Aesop before retelling Aesop's stories. The information he found led him to wonder "what might have happened if Aesop had started up his own business, running a stall in the agora (that's Greek for marketplace), doing what he loved best -- entertaining people and telling fables?" (5). I am glad that he goes on to declare that "the stories have something to say to people of all ages, grown-ups and children alike." He goes on to tell ten of Aesop's stories -- but, true to his purpose, he situates each first in a fictional situation in the agora. Aesop is selling olives and cheese and inviting people "Stop for a moment -- and enjoy!" The key in telling his first story, LM, is the line in which he asks his audience "You're too small, You're too slow. You're too ugly.. Has anyone ever told you that? And then used it to keep you from doing something you really wanted to do?" (7). Hartman follows up by including this in the last lines of this fable: "Don't let anyone judge you by the way you look" (11). For me, the human illustrations -- and especially those of Aesop -- are even more engaging than the good illustrations of the animals in the fables. In the middle of CP, Aesop forces his listeners to go find pebbles that they can put into his jar. "We can't finish the story until we have pebbles" (14). For FG, Aesop and his listeners watch what happens at a neighboring stall, where two women want the same amphora. Aesop wisely proclaims "This is even better than a story, I'd say" (17). Of course the two handles break off and the pottery seller demands payment. One woman says "It wasn't that nice, anyway!" For TMCM, Aesop claims to sell peace. Indeed, he says, I am the richest man in Greece! Aesop goes on to tell the tale of the dung-beetle and the ant, with rain instead of snow. "You can't always count on kindness" (27). Flattery from the crowd enjoying his stories provokes Aesop to tell FC. DS gets introduced when a dog runs through the crowd with a piece of stolen meat. For non-human illustrations, try DW on 46-47. My! This is Aesop after my own heart!
2011 Römische Fabeln auf Mühlviardlarisch. Leopold Pammer. Mit Bildern von Raphaela Pammer. Hardbound. Novum Publishing gmbh. €14.67 from Amazon.de, Sept., '12.
The Mühlviertel is an Austrian region belonging to the state of Upper Austria: it is one of four "quarters" of Upper Austria, the others being Hausruckviertel, Traunviertel, and Innviertel. It is named for the two rivers Große Mühl and Kleine Mühl. Here are Phaedrus' fables in this dialect, though the author challenges our normal understanding of the difference between language and dialect; this dialect is for him an independent language (6-7). This book with its illustration has helped me to understand Phaedrus V 9 for the first time (195): the bull went through this opening a long time ago, when he was smaller. He does not need the younger animal's advice about what he has already done many times over. The black-and-white illustrations are good, if simple. They are all sideways -- because landscape -- in a book that is in the traditional portrait frame. Among the best illustrations are those of the fox and owl and their young (57); the eagle, cat, and pig (74); the grasshopper and the owl (114); the fox and the goat (146). The cover's colored rendition of FG seems much livelier than the black-and-white (132). Does the fact that the vocabulary after each fable comes in a standardized table betray the computer-generated character of this book?
2011 Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk: A Modest Bestiary. David Sedaris. Illustrations by Ian Falconer. First printing. Paperbound. NY: Back Bay Books: Little, Brown, and Company. Gift of Wendy Wright, Nov., '11.
As I mentioned about the hardbound version, printed a year earlier, this is a wonderful little book! Sedaris adds one story here: "The Vomit-Eating Flies" (160). Another delight about an unsavory subject! I will repeat my comments from the earlier hardbound version. Sedaris is wise to title the book from "Squirrel Meets Chipmunk" after a delightfully whistful story. These strong stories are, I would say, one step beyond Thurber. The characterization is pushed beyond the normal borders of fable, but the upshot is much the same as one finds from fables. We learn, that is, about human foibles. Often, as in Thurber and particularly in Bierce, there is a sudden turn at the end of the fable. Thus the bear that makes a habit of getting sympathy for the dead bear that she claimed as her mother finally takes an interest in another bear, only to be reduced like him to being a circus bear without teeth. Similarly, the mouse that keeps a pet snake ends up inside the snake. Some stories carve out a tone that goes far beyond what fable can normally do. I think particularly of "The Faithful Setter," a view of marital fidelity and infidelity (60). The most breathtaking piece might be "The Crow and the Lamb" (74), in which what looks like a pleasant conversation leads to a vicious attack by the crow on a newborn lamb's eyes. I have read twelve of the sixteen stories and enjoyed them thoroughly!
2011 The Fables of Leonardo da Vinci. Ed Tasca. Illustrations by Hilary Rowland. Paperbound. Seymour, MO: Heartland Imprints: Heartland: RoseHeart Publishing. $12.94 from Amazon.com, April, '11.
The title-page continues "Based on ideas and drafts annotated in da Vinci's notebooks." Ten fables appear here. Leonardo's fables are excellent. They are generally a bit longer than normal Aesopic fables. The donkey that arrogantly disregards the ice soon enough sleeps on it, thaws that section of ice, and drowns. He creates his own doom. Soon the lake is again iced over, and no one knows the difference. "The Walnut and the Belltower" (17) remains a favorite of mine. Nicer than other similar books, this looks like another "printed upon demand" book done in La Vergne, TN. This copy was printed just eleven days ago!
2011 The Great Race. Kevin O'Malley. First printing. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. NY: Walker & Company. $11.95 from Powell's, Portland, July, '13.
"When a classic fable meets this hare-brained retelling, the race is on!" Kevin O'Malley does have fun with the story. Lever Lapin is the talk of the world, and Nate Tortoise has had enough of it, especially when Lever shows up at a restaurant and gets Nate's table, while Nate has to move to a table near the swinging kitchen door. In the race, Lever stops at the restaurant, La Gaganspew, to chat with reporters and friends. When Nate goes by, Lever cannot get through the crowd. The headline in the paper the next day is "Better Nate Than Lever!" The art is as much fun as the text. Among the best illustrations are the first: Nate eats his meal at La Gaganspew but has to listen to women at a nearby table extolling Lever's great qualities. A special two-page spread is reserved for Lever's face during his interruption of the race. "Gentlemen, it's only five dollars for my autograph. And ladies, please, only one kiss for each of you."
2011 The Really Groovy Story of the Tortoise and the Hare. Kristyn Crow. Illustrated by Christina Forshay. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. Chicago: Albert Whitman and Company. $12.67 from Amazon, May, '14.
Here is another large-format children's book that announces its zest with its catchy title. The book sustains the energy. The text is rhyming rap. "Deep inside the city/ was a hip and happy hare./ He was zippy, sometimes lippy,/ takin' taxis everywhere." The hare is plugged in and turned on. "Way out in the country/ was a tortoise calm and cool./ He was quite the mellow fellow/ chillin' out beside the pool." The illustration has the tortoise floating on his back in a pool, with a drink perched on his chest and a butterfly sitting on his nose. Tortoise and hare literally bump into each other at the county fair. Tortoise suggests a race. The crowd at the starting line features pigs, sheep, and chickens. Hare declares "I really hate to beat you but I must." Hare stops for a picnic lunch under a tree. Hare even presents a rock concert. This event is labeled "groovy." Was it only in his dreams? Several animals have cameras at the finish-line. As hare comes skidding in at the finish, tortoise pops his head out of the shell and wins by a nose. "'That was Groovy! That was Fun!' Hare said, 'Dude, I shoulda' won.'" Now they are two buddies out in the country racing in the pool, where the tortoise says "I really hate to beat you but I must" and the hare urges him to chill out. The illustrations are engaging and lively throughout. The book's Chicago pride comes out in the first illustration, where the hare's cab has a punning "O'Hare Airport" sign.
2011 The Tortoise and the Jackrabbit/La Tortuga y la Liebre. Susan Lowell. Illustrated by Jim Harris. Paperbound. Flagstaff, AZ: Luna Rising: Rising Moon. $7.95 from Powell's, Portland, OR, July, '11.
Northland Publishing published this book -- mine is in hardbound form -- in 1994. Apparently they also copyrighted a Spanish translation in 2004. Might that have been a hardbound edition? The present paperback was "produced" in China in April of 2011. I suspected that Rising Moon is a bilingual division of Northland Publishing; both are in Flagstaff, AZ. A little checking suggests that they are both parts of Cooper Square Publishing. Let me include comments from that English edition. This beautiful sideways-book does the traditional story wonderfully "with a Southwestern flair." The animals are given character and attitude. Among the best illustrations is that reproduced as the cover. The tortoise has a wonderfully laconic way about her with her dowdy umbrella and older woman's hat. Her first simple reaction is "Let's race." She soon follows it up with "Prove it." Harris brings a wonderful collection of critters to the starting-line. The mayor does some politicking both there and at the finish. The tortoise is given a winner's bouquet of flowers--and then she eats it! A great find.
2011 The Town Mouse & the Country Mouse: An Aesop Fable. Ayano Imai. First impression. Hardbound. Hong Kong: Minedition: Michael Neugebauer Publishing. $10.91 from The Book Depository, Gloucester, UK, through Amazon, Oct., '13.
I know and love Imai's work from her 2012 German "12 Fabeln von Aesop," done also in English in 2013. This book of just one fable does not disappoint. Its simplicity echoes the good of the Country Mouse's life. Country Mouse wears a simple vest, while Town Mouse has a striped vest and tie. One great picture has the Country Mouse balancing a dish on his head as he serves up multiple platters of simple food. This version puts special emphasis on cheese as part of the sumptuous meal left for the two in town. When the first human intruder appears as a shadow, the Town Mouse is just climbing a ladder up a Swiss cheese. A double-page near the story's end dramatizes their choices well as one mouse goes off left and the other right. A final page needs no words to show the Country Mouse's peaceful enjoyment at home. Of course he is eating cheese!
2011 The Wise Fool: Fables from the Islamic World. Shahrukh Husain. Illustrated by Micha Archer. First edition, first printing. Hardbound. Cambridge, MA: Barefoot Books. $17.26 from Book Lovers USA through abe, Nov., '11.
This large-format, highly colorful book presents twenty-two tales of Mulla Nasruddin, a "merry little figure with a turban and short jacket and a much-loved donkey" (4). Many are wise-guy tales in the direction of Till Eulenspiegel. I do not think that I have ever encountered any of them. I find several particularly captivating. "The Price of Steam" (6) involves a judgment on a man who allegedly bought a cook's steam and therefore should pay for it. Nasruddin's judgment requires the eater to pull out the appropriate coins and jangle them. The sound of the jangling coins is the payment for a cooking pot's steam! In "Across the River" a man shouts across the river to Mulla to ask how he can get to the other side of the river since there are no ferry boats (18). "I don't know why you need a ferry boat. You're already on the other side of the river." Arriving sweaty and stinky at a bath after a trip, Mulla is poorly treated by the attendants but gives them each a gold coin. A week later he comes again and is therefore royally treated but gives each a normal coin. "This is for last week. The gold coins were for today" (34-36). Mulla and Nedim agree to buy and share a large bowl of yogurt. Then Nedim refuses to put his sugar into the center; he will sugar only his side. Mulla thereupon pulls out olive oil and threatens to pour it into his side. Nedim backs down and agrees to put his sugar in the middle (52). In "One-Legged Geese," Mulla eats a goose drumstick on the way to delivering the whole goose to the emperor and then convinces the emperor that all geese have only one leg (54-57). The illustrations are strong. Their style is well indicated in the first picture of Mulla and his donkey on 5. Perhaps the best of them is the last, which pictures accounts Mulla had done on pastry, because the emperor made the last overseer eat his accounts (60-61).
2011 Usborne Animal Stories for Little Children. Susanna Davidson, Louie Stowell, and others. Illustrated by Frank Endersby, Eva Muszynski, and others. Hardbound. Tulsa, OK: Educational Development Corporation: Usborne Books. $18.99 from Usborne Books, Sioux Falls Flea Market, Nov., '14.
This large-format (10" x 10") book contains five stories. Two of them are fables: LM and "Brer Rabbit and the Blackberry Bush." The other three are "How Elephants Lost their Wings"; "The Little Red Hen"; and "The Little Giraffe." Each story gets about 25 pages. That length and the large pages here make for a leisurely telling of each of the five tales. Susanna Davidson remains Usborne's writer for Aesop's fables. Frank Endersby illustrates LM here. Louie Stewell joins Davidson on the Brer Rabbit story, which is illustrated by Eva Muszynski. In LM here, a little tail brushed the tip of the lion's nose. He sneezed and awoke. Endersby's best illustration is that of the laughing lion on 40. Text and pictures work together well in the Brer Rabbit story to set fox and rabbit up as sworn enemies. This is the story in which Brer Rabbit pleads to be thrown into the blackberry bush.
2011 Yi Suo Yu Yan. (Gu xi la ) yi suo. Hardbound. Yunnan, China: Quinjin Jingdian Congschu: Yunnan Education Publishing House. $7.92 from Amazon.com, Sept., '14.
Pinyin, I am learning, is the official phonetic system for transcribing the Mandarin pronunciations of Chinese characters into the Latin alphabet in the People's Republic of China. That is just what this book presents: three Roman letters above each character in Chinese. As the opening T of C (6-7) shows, there are here some ninety-nine fables on 143 pages. Colorful illustrations adorn part of a page, take a whole page, or even take a two-page spread. Readers without Chinese will recognize many familiar Aesopic fables here. Among the best illustrated are FM (12), GA (21), "The Eagle and the Beetle" (42), SW (45-47), "The Astronomer" (58), TB (71), FWT (83), TH (85), CJ (91), FG (93), FS (107-8), WC (119), and MM (141). My prize among all these goes to TB. In 2001, the Chinese Ministry of Education designated this book as one of the compulsory readings for Chinese.
2011 99 fables by william march. Edited with an introduction by William T. Going. Illustrated by Richard Brough. Paperbound. Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press. $22.27 from abe books, Nov., '11.
Here is the paperback version, apparently first published in 2011, of the 1960 University of Alabama first edition. The copyright seems to have been renewed in 1988. The work was first done, apparently, in 1940 and may have continued from there on until 1960. This book has the same texts, illustrations, and pagination as the hardbound version of 1960. As I wrote when I first found the book in 1994, it represents a genuine surprise. After I have read so many books that promise fables but offer something else, here are real fables! William Edward March Campbell apparently worked over this collection for years and had it refused once by one of the publishers of his other works. Except for a very few that mention Aesop (#1, #97, and #98) and one that deliberately redoes his work (#30), the fables are original. Is it wrong to take #1 and #97 as programmatic? The former concludes "the fable is, and always had been, the platitude's natural frame" (2) and the latter has the Delphians killing Aesop in Going's words "not because of the warming of the oracle and not because his wit was too sharp and biting, but because he told fables--nothing but fables--and he was boring" (xviii). Going places March apart from Ade and Thurber, for his style is purposefully flat and folk-like, and totally apart from the allusive, decorative manner of La Fontaine and Gay. He places him rather with Bierce, for his fables are sharp and ironic (xvi-xvii). I find them tending overall more than I would want toward a scolding tone. But there is also a rich variety of humor, as when the escaped elephant admits that he has been too thin-skinned for life among humans (5). Typical and insightful is "The Peacock and His Bride," where the central character admits that what the two have in common is that "we both love me to distraction" (74). Let me list some other fables worth a special look: #29, 52, 53, 56, 57, 64, 71, 77, 84, and 88. Brough's work is often strong, e.g., on xxiv and 58.
2011/12 Howard B. Wigglebottom Blends in Like Chameleons: A Fable About Belonging. Howard Binkow. Illustrated by Susan F. Cornelison. Second printing. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. Thunderbolt Publishing. $11.62 from Amazon.com, July, '13.
Here is a simple story about learning social behavior. Joey joins Howard's class but irritates everyone and destroys the class's good atmosphere. Howard befriends Joey and recommends that Joey imitate the chameleons by adapting himself to whatever the other children are doing. The suggestion works and the class has its peace back. Howard's two new chameleons seem also to be pals as they peek out from Howard and Joey's pockets. Joey seems to be a little tiger and Howard a bunny. There is a series of Howard B. Wigglebottom books.
2011/13 Fábulas Enganchadas. Graciela Repún y Enrique Melantoni. Ilustraciones: Sofía Romacciotti. 1a editión, 1a reimpressión. Paperbound. Buenos Aires: Uranito Libros: Ediciones Urano. $7.49 from Amazon.com, Nov., '14.
Here are twelve traditional fables each given about four pages and each graced with a full-page colored illustration. The first fable has an ant ask "Help me!" to some six characters, asking to get away. Snow, sun, cloud, wind, wall, and man give answers indicating that they are indeed strong but unable to help. Each passes the ant on to the next, saying that the next is stronger. I believe the ant finally takes off on her own. She will help herself. In GA, the grasshopper makes music with maracas! There is a partial-page transition getting into the first story and others transitioning to each next new story. This frame story has a fox and an ant telling each other the stories. Further stories include AD; SW; "The Mother, Wolf, and Child"; MM, GGE, TMCM; LM; "The Lion and His Advisors" (and the skunk); "The Weasel and the Bats"; and "The Bat and Nightingale." The maracas picture on 15 might be the most engaging. TMCM on 41 is also charming: the cat looks around a curtain at one observant and one inattentive eating mouse.
2012 A table avec Jean de La Fontaine: 55 recettes fabuleuses et morales de nos campagnes. Rédaction des recettes: Coco Jobard. Benjamin Rabier et aquarelles d'Hippolyte Romain; photographies Fabrice Subiros. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. Paris: Agnes Vienot Editions. €29.90 from Librairie L'Appetit Vient en Lisant, Paris, July, '12.
This was a lucky find on my first afternoon in Paris. I seldom bother these days with new book stores. It was even less likely this day, when I had Gibert Jeune and similar bookstores at hand. I stopped in and asked about fables and they brightened up immediately and took me right to this impressive book. The book is a lavish combination of good sounding recipes, mouth-watering photographs, delightful Rabier illustrations, and sprightly Romain watercolors. "Manger pour ne pas être mangé, c'est le leitmotiv des 'Fables' et l'ambition de ce livre" (8). 33 fables and 55 recipes. An index of recipes at the end is nicely organized into "Plats," "Accompagnements," Fromages & Desserts," and "Bases." The organization of the book displayed in the T of C at the front is less intuitive. Its major sections are "liberté," "fraternité," égalité," "la fortune," "démocratie," and "la raison." A two-page watercolor spread introduces each of these sections. A good example of the lovely photography comes on 33: never did flour, milk, butter, and eggs look so good! The matches of fables and recipes are often clever, as when OF with its blowout frog is matched with "soufflé aux champignons." After all, a soufflé is also something blown out. Rabier's OF on 34 is one of his best! The fable of WL is joined with a recipe for lamb hamburgers (44)! 2P and a beautiful soup toureen are presented together with two recipes for soup (64). Among the best photographs is one juxtaposing a vase and a shallow soupbowl (76), just across from FS. Pages 90-91 present a great spread of whipped cream, jam, a cake mold, and the cake that is fresh out of the mold. Yum! Romain's most arresting image is a two-page spread on "Le Petit Cirque" on 110-111. What does it have to do with anything here? This book is beautifully constructed.
2012 Aesop's Fables. Adapted by Jan Fields. Illustrated by Eric Scott Fisher. Hardbound. Edina, MN: Calico Illustrated Classics: Magic Wagon: ABDO Group. £14.71 from AwesomeBooks.com, June, '12.
There are forty-three chapters in this 5¾" x 8" book, each presenting an Aesopic fable. About a quarter of the fables are illustrated with either a full page or a half-page black-and-white illustration. I am frankly surprised to see a children's book these days using black-and-white illustrations! One of the best of the illustrations is FG (13), but the cover gives a better colored rendition of this good scene. Another good illustration shows the farmer trying unsuccessfully to make peace with the snake which he has offended (50). A final good illustration takes a different view of a frequently presented scene by presenting the donkey in a lion's skin face-on. We see the mane around a donkey's face (56). Check out "The Fox and the Cat" (93). This story may be unusually well told.
2012 Aesop's Fables. Introduction and Notes by Edward W. Clayton. Illustrated by Ernest Griset. First printing. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. NY: B&N Signature Edition: Barnes and Noble; Sterling Publishing Company. Gift of Mary Pat Ryan, March, '13.
Barnes and Noble did a "Classic Edition" in 2003 that presented V.S. Vernon Jones' and Arthur Rackham's Aesop. Now here is a new effort by Barnes and Noble, nicely done. Griset's illustrations, so often dark and poorly printed, are well presented here. I have tried to pin the texts down to a known author, but I cannot find the source, and there is none acknowledged here. Of course one great advantage of this book is that it is inexpensive. Where does one find a well-bound book with a dust-jacket for $6.98? Further, the book has a good introduction and good suggestions for pursuing study of Aesop. There are notes and an AI at the end of the fables, besides a list of illustrations and a chronology at the book's beginning. Here is its biggest surprise: it refers twice to the Carlson Fable Collection! In fact, this collection gets the book's first footnote, and it comes with the book's first sentence! The note itself is on 231. Readers are also referred to the collection on 239 when Clayton discusses presentations of fables in other media.
2012 Aesop's Fables: The Crow and the Serpent and Other Stories. Retold by Sunita Pant Bansal. First edition. Paperbound. Mumbai, India: Shree Timeless Fables #3: Shree Book Centre. 99 Rupees from Oxford Book Store, Kolkata, Dec., '13.
This book seems to be the third in a series of twenty books, thirteen of which present Aesop's fables. That is surprising, since the book contains sixty fables. Most series present only some one hundred fables; this series must be presenting 780 of them! A special feature of this book is its purple titles and morals. Also, each fable has an animated black-and-white cartoon. There is a T of C on 5-7. A test of the first few fables finds the tellings sometimes slipshod or at least curious. In "The Monkeys and Their Mother" (10), the story goes out of its way to make the point that a neglected baby usually grows weak and dies. In this case, he becomes strong. There is no crisis and no flight from a predator. The mother asks the weaker baby how he grew strong. "I have a strong will to live." Close enough, but the old fable is gone. Similarly, Jupiter gives a strange answer to Minerva when she chooses the olive: "To avoid any quarrels, we chose trees that don't bear any fruits" (17). I think the original fable stresses Athena's attention to effectiveness and practicality while other gods are attracted only to beauty. Jupiter's strange comment undercuts the surprising wisdom of her choice. The cover features a man in a boat with a snake, crow, and lamb on the shore. The title-fable is on 27 and does not include either the lamb or the man in the boat. The back cover lists the other volumes in the Shree Timeless Fables series. Is that a bald Aesop on the title-page and in the cover's boat?
2012 Aesop's Fables: 11 Leveled Stories to Read Together for Gaining Fluency & Comprehension. Kathryn Wheeler & Debra Olson Pressnall. Illustrations by Julie Anderson. Hardbound. Greensboro, North Carolina: Partner Read-Alouds: Key Education: Carson-Dellosa Publishing Company. £7.72 from AwesomeBooks.com, June, '12.
Here is a teacher's delight: well-prepared work engaging pairs of students at increasing levels of second grade reading to read a fable together. Each of the eleven sections has this pattern: a teacher's page; the text, with the two voices clearly marked; a page checking for understanding the details of the story; a page to help thinking about the story. The fables used here are well written; the authors have supplied a good deal of colorful detail. Thus "The Fox and the Goat" starts with the fox searching all day for water and asking help from a bird, who knows how tricky Tricky the fox is! The fables used are: "The Fox and the Goat"; "The Big Wish"; UP; "The Donkey and the Dog"; "Doctor Frog"; FS; DW; MM; DS; AD; and "The Fox and the Lion." "The Big Wish" tells of a sparrow who wanted to become a peacock -- and did! He soon regretted his choice. "The Fox and the Lion" touches on familiarity and respect. I think that the simple black-and-white illustrations along the way would help second graders relate to these stories.
2012 As fábulas de La Fontaine de Sao Vicente de Fora/Les fables de La Fontaine du monastère de Saint-Vincent à Lisbonne. Photographs of St. Vincent Monastery. Introduction António Coimbra Martins. Third edition. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. Paris/Lisbon: Chandeigne/Nova Terra. See 2001/12.
2012 Armenian Folk Fables. Compiled and recast by Armen Sargsyan. Edited by Meruzhan Harutyunyan. Translated by Alina Mirzoyan. Illustrated by Naira Poghosyan. Hardbound. Yerevan: EditPrint Publishing House. $22.50 from Edgar Durakhanyan, Yerevan, Armenia, through eBay, Feb., '15.
Here is a curious little book (6" x 8¼") of 158 pages with so many texts that the closing T of C needs eight pages. The texts are a collection of all sorts of clever stories. Generally these stories show good peasant wisdom, like "Wife and Mother" (27): "I would rather have happen to me what my wife thinks about when I travel than what my mother fears when I travel." A good number of the stories are recognizable traditional fables, including the following: "The Oak and the Pumpkin" (5); "The Dog and the Deer" (22); "The Fox Divisor" (34); FC (41); BC (41); "The Tongue Is the Sweetest and the Bitterest" (44); "The Pilgrim Fox and the Cock" (58); GA (59); "The Miser Burying His Gold" (63); "The Camel Prefers the Level" (73); "The Pig and the Singing Wolf" (83, with an image); "The Dying Lion and the Donkey" (108); "The Nut and the Watermelon" (125, in which one usually finds a pumpkin); and "The Scorpion and the Frog" (149). New to me but like some fables is "The Dying Defecating Ass" (111). "The Snake and the Lark" (76) not only has one of the best images; that image is repeated on every text page. The illustration style is distinctive, as is clear from the cover image of a blind man carrying a lantern. He does it, of course, not so that he can see but so that others can see him.
2012 Best of More Aesop's Fables.Edited by Shyam dua. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. Noida, India: Tiny Tot Best of Series: Tiny Tot Publications. See 2007/12.
2012 Big Book of Aesop's Fables. Paperbound. Mumbai, India: Wilco Publishing House. See 2007/12.
2012 Birds of a Feather Shop Together: Aesop's Fables for the Fashionable Set. Sandra Bark. Illustrations by Bil Donovan. First printing. Hardbound. NY. Harper Design. $13.44 from Amazon.com. Feb., '12.
This book is a delightful surprise. It takes some seventeen traditional Aesop's fables, told in the book's last pages. For each it spins out a new tale about fashion, shopping, and clothes. The watercolor (?) illustrations are splashy, colorful, and suggestive. For a taste, try "A Girl with Curls" (30) and "Bella and the Mouse" (38) for both text and illustration. The contemporary shopping stories translate the fables well. This book is worth showing off in a lecture on fables.
2012 Ellie's Golden Fables. Ellie Adel. Illustrated by Danielle Kluth. First edition. Paperbound. Cambridgeshire, UK: Melrose Books. £9.40 from AwesomeBooks.com, June, '12.
"These fables have been written at this specific point in time to assist those who are destined to transform or heal themselves by consciously creating change in the physical body by the spirit within" (v). Here are thirty stories, each centered on an Australian animal, and each beginning either with the phrase "I am the Spirit of" or the phrase "I am the Light of." I have read several. Each includes a "pourquoi" story, but there is also a good deal of analyzing and even preaching. The dodo let itself become extinct to try to lead Australians and Australian animals to peacefulness, even in the midst of very provocative lives. "Peacock" (17) tells of the estrangement of the formerly beloved and gracious peacock. Now he lives at odds with the hen; his vanity grates on her pride. "Green Frog" (76) points out that tadpoles are blind and argues that they trust in nature. Is it true that "whenever you hear a chorus of frogs you will know an initiation is taking place" (77)? Do "mature frogs gather to welcome the young frog into her new life"? Most of the stories seem to have a sense of the fall and of redemption. Creatures were peaceful but got into ugly selfishness and abuse of others. They either then made a comeback or tried to. They knew the unhappiness of provocation and confusion. The author favors the concept of "vibration" to describe life-forms. There are seven stirring colored illustrations along the way.
2012 Fabeln aus aller Welt. Illustriert von Karsten Teich. Vorwort von Sybil Gräfin Schönfeldt. Erste Auflage. Hardbound. Berlin: Tulipan Verlag. €24.95 from Amazon.de, August, '12.
This is an impressive large-format book. It contains 110 fables. Impressive is the care at the book's end to list them in a T of C and an AI. There follows on 188 a list of sources, first for the fables whose authors are known and then for the fables whose authors are unknown. Finally there is a brief description of each of the known authors. These pages are done nicely in several colors. The book is impressive in its breadth of authors and sources and in its illustrations. Let me mention some of the best illustrations: the frightened hare about to commit suicide on 28-29; swan, pike, and crab pulling in different directions from different places on the pages (76-77); the anthropomorphic horse on 132-33 who has to carry the dead ass' burden and skin; and FC's artist (172-3). Among the briefest fables is "Ein Vergleich" by Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (41), in which a molehill addresses a volcano, asking why he plays out his inner struggles before the whole world. "I have my own struggles, but who ever saw me spew out fire?" Novalis' "Das Pferd" with its poignant illustration raises the question of the price of enslavement (43). Grillparzer's "Diplomatischer Rat" makes a good point and is well illustrated (48-49). The marten asks the fox how to get hold of chickens. "Use force!" He uses force and drives the chickens right to the fox! A clever story, new to me, is attributed to Ivan Krylov: "Warum das Schwein weinte" (156), accompanied by another good illustration. People keep using "Schwein" as a put-down word, and the pig finally breaks down and cries. A little ass in the barn is sympathetic and asks why he is crying. He hears the whole story and then responds "Ja, das ist wirklich eine Schweinerei"! The last fable is presented as a "Nachwort": I take it to be a challenging reflection on compassion, again accompanied by a strong illustration.
2012 Fables de Jean de La Fontaine. Illustrations de Sara. Hardbound. Collection Ivoire: Le Genévrier. €17 from Lecume des pages, Paris, July, '12.
Start with the back cover of this book. It contains two fascinating items. First there is an imaginary conversation between Sara and La Fontaine, where La Fontaine -- appropriately -- argues for the spiritual character of animals. Below that is a simple picture of a donkey looking at a bookstand featuring "Le Cheval et l"Ane." The medium here seems to be something like "torn paper silhouettes." Sara thus deals with blocks of uniformly colored material. The down-side of this method is that it allows for no shading of colors, no shadows, no interplay among various elements within a field of color. Each of twenty-two fables gets a two-page spread with these torn paper silhouettes. Among the best are "La lice et sa compagne"; "Le cheval et l'âne"; "Le chat, la belette et le petit lapin"; "L'âne et le chien"; and "Le chat et le renard." In this style of art, eyes give the artist his or her greatest chance of expression, I think.
2012 Fables de La Fontaine. Illustrées par Élodie Nouhen, Rébecca Dautremer, Crescence Bouvarel, Lucie Brunellière, Julie Faulques, Marion Duval, Pierre Mornet, Aurélia Fronty, Martin Jarrie, Pauline Comis, and Claire Degans. Hardbound. Champigny-sur-Marne: Éditions Lito. €10.50 from Gibert Joseph, August, '14.
This large-format book (10" x 12") presents thirty-one fables on 89 pages. The artistry is regularly creative. This book was worth publishing! The cicada here has an accordion or concertina that lies on the ground as the ermine-clad ant preaches at him (8-9). The wolf towers over and surrounds the lamb wonderfully (15)! This milkmaid is different. She looks straight at us in the first picture (17); in the second, a small cloud rains directly on her as she carries in her hand a useless fragment of her jug (19). The tortoise in TH carries a map of the race's course on his back (31). He apparently gets the idea that "Depart" is crucial for "Arrive." TMCM is a particular favorite (34-35). Only a paw appears at the left, but the mice are running fast and afraid to the right. The city mouse is well in the lead, and the country mouse is only starting to react to the threat. In "Le Coche et la Mouche," the fly dominates the picture, zooming over the coach like a jet plane. The schoolmaster preaching to the drowning child is perfect (45). Do not miss the close-up of the bear next to the head of the traveller playing dead (51). There is a fine picture of the anxious Grégoire digging a hole for his bag of money (59). The retired rat is plump and self-satisfied in his posh surroundings (67). Both the killer and the dead hen are well portrayed in GGE (69). The artist presents a tour de force for "Le chameau et les bâtons flottants" (80-81). This boat is also a dragon and a tin can! Well done!
2012 Fables d'Ésope. Traduit du grec ancien par Émile Chambry. Illustrations de Simone Rea. Hardbound. Paris: Actes Sud Junior. €11.10 at Gibert Joseph, August, '14.
From the original "Favole" published in 2011 by Topipittori in Milan. Here is a large-format (9" x 13¼") landscape -- rather than portrait -- book. I feel as though I have known it before, but I cannot find it in the database. The cover has a cat looking suspiciously around a table of fable characters, among whom is a stork dipping her beak deep into a tall glass. The back cover advertises correctly: "Vingt fables amusantes, parfois cruelles, des plus connues aux plus surprenantes.." The illustrations are indeed provocative, starting with the first fable's dog sick from devouring a snail. Are we seeing his insides or the woods in which he found the snail? In FC, three foxes rejoice in carnival costume over the fresh piece of meat teased away from the crow, who holds his hands high in outrage. In DS, we can see the fish start to pick at the floating piece of meat. My favorite in the book is "Prométhée et les hommes." Since animals outnumbered people, Zeus asked Prometheus to transform a number of the former into the latter. They have human form but bestial souls. Rea mixes human and animal faces nicely here. TMCM has the country rat, perched in a flower, turning his head toward a slightly open door. The cover pictures turns out to be a doubting illustration of the fable in which a just lion king has all the animals come together in peace. Rea suggests nicely that this plan may not work. I wonder why many fable books are published because they have little new to offer; I do not have that question about this excellent book!
2012 Fables for the Times. Henry Wallace Phillips. Illustrated by T.R. Sullivant (but there are no illustrations included). Paperbound. Lexington, KY: High Quality Paperback: Filiquarian Publishing. $9.99 from amazon.com, Jan., '12.
From the little research I have been able to do, it seems that I should know of Henry Wallace Phillips (1869 to 1930), who seems to have written short stories and film scripts, among other things. Might he have written for "The Times," most likely "The New York Times"? This is a disappointing scanned version of an 1896 book done by an on-demand press. After long searching, I still have not found the original press. The title-page includes "Illustrated by T.R. Sullivant" but there are no illustrations. The last page ends with this "Footnote 1: (editorial note) This was corrected from the original, which." End of quotation, end of book. Scanning machines, unaided and uncorrected, give us unintelligible books! Now that I have found the book copied on Project Gutenberg, I can relate that that sentence finishes "read: "Well, where's your art now, snarled the lion?"] One can also find the illustrations there. What we have here are twenty standard Aesopic or Aesopic-like fables cleverly turned to contemporary humorous purposes, often summed up in a clever proverbial "immoral." The book seems to me much in the spirit of Bierce, and that is a very clever spirit! In DS, the dog stopped to think about angles and refractions, decided that what he was seeing were "only optical phenomena," and "trotted on his way to Boston without further thought on the matter" (4). "A fox stood under an apple-tree and gazed up earnestly at the globes of yellow lusciousness. 'How sad, for the sake of an old-time piece of literature,' he said, 'that the fox is a carnivorous animal and doesn't care particularly about fruit!" (5). The fox said that with a voice the crow would rank with prima donnas. The crow dropped the meat on his head, blinded him, and pecked him viciously. She was distressed to be compared with "them shameless French singing hussies"! Moral: "Don't praise the soft whiteness of a labor delegate's hands" (6). The thirsty wolf asks the young lamb to bring him water. She does, with some knock-out drops in it (11)! Jupiter tells the bee that its sting will cost it its life, only to find the bee perched on his neck ready to sting and demanding that he reconsider (17). He does!
2012 Fables from the German of Mr Lessing. J. Richardson. Hardbound. York: C. Etherington/Eighteenth Century Collections Online Print Editions. See 1773/2012.
2012 Fables of La Fontaine. Illustrations by Félix Lorioux. Hardbound. Mineola, NY: Dover. $12.37 from Amazon.com, Dec., '12.
This is a beautiful inexpensive book, produced from what Dover calls an original 1927 edition. Bodemann guesses at a first edition of Lorioux by Hachette in 1921, and that is where I have put my first editions of Lorioux. As always, Dover does a lovely job. Six fables each get twelve illustrations. English translations are put below the few French verses included in each illustration. "La Cigale et la Fourmi," "Le Corbeau et le Renard," "Le Rat de Ville et le Rat des Champs," "Le Loup et l'Agneau," "Le Renard et la Cigogne," and "Le Héron."
2012 Fábulas de Esopo: Fábulas recreadas en versos rimados. Luis Hernán Rodríguez Felder. Illustrations from Wenceslaus Hollar et al. Primera edición. Paperbound. Buenos Aires: Colección Clásicos: Literatura Infantil: Proyecto Larsen Clásicos. $26.13 from christian723 on eBay, Jan., '13.
As one sometimes finds in French books, the covers here wrap around and fold in a little over two inches. As the front cover proudly states, there are here 174 fables with morals. Each fable starts a new page. Many have simple clip-art illustrations of one of the animals named in the fable; others have small Hollar illustrations. Each fable is numbered. The rhymed verse is always split down the center, and texts are centered on the split. The back cover speaks of the special trick in this format: "una métrica dual, que permite leer las fábulas en versos largos, de 14 sílabas, o en versos más breves y ágiles, de 7 sílabas." I gather that one can read whole lines or just half lines and still find sense. The arrangement of fables is alphabetical, but beware: "El" counts. Thus Afrodita, Androcles, Bóreas, Diógenes, and "Dos hombres" come before all the "El" fables, starting with "El abeto" and "El adivino." The cover presents a conglomerate picture including a human figure with a donkey's head looking at a grasshopper and ant in front of a woodcut-like set of town buildings. There is a T of C at the back (217-21).
2012 Fábulas y Antifábulas. Graciela Repún y Enrique Melantoni. Ilustraciones: Walter Carzon. 1a edición. Paperbound. Buenos Aires, Argentina: Uranito. $10.76 from Amazon.com, Oct., '14.
Here is a slender book of 48 pages presenting six fables after an introduction and before a last word "Esopo se calló." The introduction presents Aesop as talking to a group of children in ancient Greece. First up in his stories is the traditional FC, with the subtitle "(La fábula que todos conocemos)." Nettling questions from the children follow: "Do you know whether crows actually eat cheese?" "Were there other animals around during this encounter?" "Might they have helped one or the other character?" My sense from the Spanish is that in an anti-fable Aesop changes the story, so that all the animals end up happy to be sharing the crow's cheese. So it goes through six stories, including DS, where the dog gets a piece of meat falling from a passing truck. Other fables include "The Fisherman and the Fish in Hand"; "The Dog and the Crocodile"; and "The Shepherd and the Sheep." The fourth fable is hard for me to decipher. Does it concern a man meeting a ghost-woman? In each case, there is a partial-page lively design for the traditional fable and a full-page for the anti-fable. The conclusion of it all, by the way, is that Aesop decides that his next audience will have no participants who are ingenious, critical, intelligent, or impressionable "like a child."
2012 Fox Fables. Retold by Dawn Casey/Arabic translation by Wafa' Tarnowska. Illustrated by Jago. Paperbound. London: Mantra Lingua Ltd. See 2006/12.
2012 Fox Tails: Four Fables from Aesop. Amy Lowry. First edition, first printing. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. NY: Holiday House. $18.22 from Awesome Books, April, '12.
Similar to The Ant and the Grasshopper from the same artist and publisher in 2000. Like it, this large-format book is over 10" square. Amy Lowry (who was Amy Lowry Poole in 2000) cleverly weaves FG, FC, "The Fox and the Goat," and FS into a single dramatic tale. The stork invites those who were victimized in FC and "The Fox and the Goat" to watch as she gets even with the fox at dinner that evening. The two guests watch as the fox goes away muttering "Drat." Then the stork invites those two guests to sit down and enjoy the meal which the fox could not get at. I like best the picture of the two onlookers laughing in the background as the fox tries in vain to get some of the fine fish stew that the stork has put into tall jars. Another excellent illustration is the first: the hungry fox looks into an empty refrigerator. A final page offers good traditional morals for each of the four fables. Lowry's selection of the books on the fox's bookshelf is engaging. The list includes Anansi Tales, Trickster Tales, Volpone, Omelettes, and Chicken Recipes. Another delightful book!
2012 Have You Seen Marie? Sandra Cisneros. Illustrated by Ester Hernández. First printing. Paperbound. NY: Vintage Contemporaries: Vintage Books: Random House. Gift of Larry Gillick, S.J., Oct., '14.
"This lyrically told, richly illustrated fable for adults is the tale of a woman's search, in the wake of her mother's death, for a missing cat -- and a reminder that love, even when it goes astray, does not stay lost forever." This statement on the book's back cover gets it right. The story is on the very edge of fable or perhaps one step beyond fable, but I cannot resist including it in the collection. The process the searcher goes through is highly instructive. It touches on so much that is human. "The San Francisco Chronicle" rightly says that the story "both honors the darkness around us and keeps the same darkness at bay."
2012 How to Tell a Fable. Suri Rosen. Various artists. Hardbound. St. Catherines, Ontario: Crabtree Publishing. $21.80 from abe books, Nov., '11.
This large-format hardbound book of 32 pages works from BW, "The Blue Jackal," and DS to demonstrate the elements of a fable and to invite young readers to do all sorts of things with fables, including conducting an interview in the pasture and creating a new fable. The viewpoint on fable is good throughout. As I write, this is the first book in the collection published in 2012. That is especially surprising because I received it in 2011!
2012 Moral Stories for Children. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. Delhi: Shanti Children's Books: Shanti Publications. See 2008/12.
2012 One Hundred New Court Fables. Houdar de la Motte. Translated by Mr. Samber. Paperbound. Memphis: General Books. $27.95 from Better World Books through Alibris, June, '12.
This book is a travesty from start to finish. An accessible English translation of De la Motte would be a fine thing, and that is what this book promises. However, readers will be frustrated with the book. It is in large format at 7½" by 9¾". One opens to find three densely packed columns on each page. One does not need to read far to find that the book is a jumbled mass of computer scanning gone mad. Consider this passage on 49: "The Phenix and the Owl. Fable I. To the Queen of Prussia. 3&taGKSS5&@cept, O mighty Queen, my 3s?RR> humble Homage. This Tribute of a Stranger mould be more agreeable to you." What reader will put up with trying to decipher this mess? The last surprise comes when the print stops on 58. There follow fifty blank pages. The blank pages anger me less than the print pages! I hope I never buy another unproofed, scanned, printed-on-demand book in my life.
2012 Rosinante's Sallies: Animal Fables for Adults. As Told to Sally Netzel. Illustrations by Liz Netzel. Paperbound. Lexington, KY: Xlibris. See 2008/12.
2012 Ten Fables for Teaching English. Ellen M. Balla. Illustrations by Karen Bell. Paperbound. Culver City, CA: Good Year Books. $14.51 from amazon.com, July, '13.
Here is the 2012 printing of a book that first appeared in 2000. See our copy from that printing. There are suble changes. All reference to Pearson Learning has been removed. The front cover adds "Aligns to the Common Core State Standards." The back cover adds the price ($19.95) and the new ISBN number. The paper of this edition seems thinner. As I wrote then, this large-format book (about 8" x 11") has plenty of learning helps for teachers and students in the early grades. Notice that it is meant as much for ESL students as for those learning English as a first language. The pages are all tear-out and reproducible. The versions are sometime disappointing. In GA (21), the ant gives the grasshopper a scarf and a jacket but no food. The good moral is that there is a time for work and a time for play. SW (36) is told in the poorer form. The lion (51) tells the caught mouse that he is going to make stew of him! In BW (76), only the boy's father is summoned each of three times. In TB (102), the bear supposedly tells the prone traveller that the fellow sojourner is not a true friend. This is my first experience of that message, and I wonder if it works. A bird tells the two goats who have fallen from the bridge to try it again by moving to the side to let each other pass (114). I think this advice misses the point. In GGE (125), the goose tells the owner that she can lay only one golden egg a day. He tries to shake the other eggs out of her, and she runs away after five days. Other stories include TH, TMCM, and CP. There are good simple illustrations along the way, with even a story wheel on 122, and flash-cards for use with each story.
2012 The Ant and the Grasshopper. Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley. First printing. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. NY: A Neal Porter Book: Roaring Brook Press. $16.99 from Green Apple, San Francisco, June, '13.
Here is an almost psychedelic, highly colorful, New Orleans inspired presentation of GA. I have never seen ant-eyes as wild as those we meet right from the start, on the cover and in the first pages. The first two lines make an excellent beginning: "Somewhere on the boulevard of backyards an ant was struggling with the remnants of a picnic." How lovely! Our first view then of the grasshopper is upside down, accompanied by his "buggy band." The ant falls in love with the music. It comforts her and makes her work easiser. The band accompanies her, playing all the way, back to the colony. To my surprise, the ant then invites them, in gratitude, into the cool of the underground. This approach to the story takes La Fontaine and even Disney to a new level. There is nothing at all negative anywhere from the ant or ants. This version of the fable does not just ask for a bedrudging recognition of the artist. It invites a wild celebration of the place of music in life. "Laissez les bon temps roulez" indeed! The moral of this telling is well expressed: "And the music.Made everything brighter."
2012 The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse. After Dodsley. Illustrated by Paul Galdone. First printing thus. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. Boston/NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. $8.99 from Tugooh Toys, Washington, DC, Oct., '12.
This new edition reproduces the original 1971 version by McGraw-Hill. The texts and illustrations are the same, but the format is different. The long horizontal illustrations now cover the pages from left to right, but there is considerable open space left over and under them, so that a book that was 10" wide and 7¼" high has now become about 8¼" square. As I wrote there, Galdone's work is lively. The text is after Dodsley, who presents this story as I, 30, "The Court and Country-Mouse." This version still changes Dodsley's female country mouse into a male, adds the court mouse's remonstration over country life and food, and adds finally the notion of the country mouse's considering overnight whether he will go to the city. "Wetting whiskers" in champagne is true to Dodsley. Galdone gives the country mouse a great smock. This edition continues the nice contrast between city and country in things like symbol and typeface. The lovely back-cover illustration of the two moving through the countryside is lost to an advertisement here. Finding this book in a favorite Georgetown toy store was a pleasant surprise.
2012 Tortoise versus Hare: Pop-up Coloring Book. Paperbound. Jiling Crafts. $3.33 from Amazon, Oct., '13.
This 8½" x 11" book is in a series that also includes, up until now, "Red Riding Hood" and "Three Pigs." Sturdy cardstock allows for cutting out sections and gluing them in clearly marked places for the effects of a pop-up book. The version of TH here is strange to me. The tortoise is clumsy. The hare slips on apples and sends them flying. "One of the apples lands on the tortoise and shoots him out of his shell." The young cutter-and-paster can decide who wins the race. And the young reader can color in these black-and-white designs.
2012 12 Fabeln von Aesop. Nacherzählt von Renate Raecke. Mit Bildern von Ayano Imai. Hardbound. Bargteheide, Germany: Minedition: Michael Neugebauer. €13.95 from Bücher-Bender, Mannheim, August, '12.
This is a lovely book I happened to find when I was trying to spend down the little money left on my Eurocheck debit card in the late days of my stay in Mannheim. The book is unusual in opening not from right to left but from down to up; that is, one needs to hold it sideways and lift the cover. The cover picture shows the half-painted jackdaw as he returns after opening his craw and being recognized by the doves whose food he was eating. Why does his fellow jackdaw have various colored feathers protruding from his black body and even one such feather in his beak? The pearl that the rooster finds in CJ is part of a ring. The little goat dancing for the wolf uses a hula-hoop! The expanding frog in OF is about to reach the ceiling of a modernistic garden-house! He is elevated off the floor like a helium-filled balloon. The one illustration for FS includes both the plate for the stork and the vase for the fox. In fact, the wall behind the stork features several plates and the floor behind the fox shows three large vases with steam bubbles emerging from them. The resting hare in TH has a hammock slung across the trail. The dropped meat bubbles through the text, dividing its lines in DS. The grapes break down through the ceiling of the fox's room in FG as clouds blow through the windows. The city mouse is fishing in the soup at the city meal in TMCM! A highway--or a racetrack?--winds among cheese wedges and salt and pepper shakers in this fable's tailpiece. The rack of the stag in the pool reaches out like a tree and even includes a birdhouse! What lovely imaginative work! The book is, as regularly with Neugebauer, beautifully produced.
2012 20 fábulas de La Fontaine. Celia Ruiz. Ilustrado por Marifé González. Hardbound. Madrid: ya LEO: Susaeta. $6.66 from Buy.com through eBay, April, '12.
This sturdy and engaging book gives Spanish reading children a great prose introduction to twenty of La Fontaine's best known fables with clear and specific morals. The migrant wolf on the cover makes a good symbol for the book; I would not immediately have recognized him as coming from DW, but he represents that wolf well, as does the picture of him in flight on 25. Here, as generally, Susaeta is cute and engaging. TMCM gets shaped up in unique fashion. A whole mouse family lives in the city, with only an uncle still living out of town. A nephew telephones this uncle and invites him to join the whole family for a city feast. There is on 35 a great image of the uncle hustling away with his cane and suitcase. González here takes a good approach to presenting the cat as a sack of grain just outside of the mouse hole (46). The frantic pig who senses that he is going to give more than milk or wool is delightfully portrayed (58-61). Well done!
2012 200 Aesop's Fables: Favourite Fables to Share. Compiled by Vic Parker. Illustrations by Frank Endersby, Marco Furlotti, Natalie Hinrichsen, Tamsin Hinrichsen, Jan Lewis, and Marcin Piwowarski. First printing. Hardbound. Essex, UK: Miles Kelly. $12.02 from Kenny's Bookshop, Galway, Ireland, Dec., '12.
Here are ten groups of twenty fables each, with individual fables generally using two pages. The resulting heavy 512-page book has a lot to recommend it. What a large group of fables to present! What lively colors and illustrations, starting from the bright orange tiger on the front cover. The groupings are: "Funny Fates"; "Great and Small"; "Deadly Sins"; "Challenge and Chance"; "Schemes and Dreams"; "Mad Mistakes"; "Feathers and Fools"; "Heroes and Villains"; "The Key to Happiness"; and "Narrow Escapes and Sticky Endings." The beginning T of C is divided to give a page to the fables in each grouping. A two-page title-page then introduces each grouping. The thick, slippery pages contain little characters around the edges in patterns that are uniform within each grouping. About every fourth fable is illustrated. OF does not have the usual explosion. Instead "all the breath whooshed out of him and he flew up and away, zipping around like a balloon!" (26). The illustration cleverly follows suit with the text. The moral to "Hercules and the Wagoneer" is "Fate helps those who help themselves" (37). The illustrations are generally simple and lively. Among the better illustrations are "The Boy and the Filberts" (148); FC (276); "The Cat and the Mice" (237); DS (267); BW (264-5 and again 282-3, mirror opposites); and "The Donkey and the Wolf" (407). "The Cat Maiden" is told in a form new to me. Venus and Zeus argue, the latter that things could change their habits and instincts. Venus argues that such change is impossible. Zeus makes the transformation and at the wedding feast Venus conjures up a mouse, and the bride tries to pounce on it (189). An overall favorite of mine here is "The Eagle and the Kite" (332-34). It is well told, well illustrated, and well moralized.
2013 A Bilingual Anthology of Aesop's Fables. Adaptation and translation: Stacy and Chuck Wrinkle. Illustrated by Javier Muñoz. First edition. Paperbound. Madrid: Cuentos del Mundo: Bilingual Readers. $10.39 from amazon.com, Feb., '14.
Here are twenty-five fables on 50 pages after nine pages of introduction. Each fable gets two pages: the English and Spanish texts on one and a full-page colored illustration on the other. The Spanish title is, curiously, "Apprende inglés con los fábulas de Esopo." The art is what we used to call "modern art"; that is, it is somewhat non-representative. The art usually pictures a single character rather than an event. The best of the illustrations are the miser (23), the sick lion (24), the mice and weasels (34), FG (39), and the boy and hazelnuts (53) In GA, the ants scold the grasshopper: those who sing all summer must dance to bed without supper in the winter (12).
2013 A Treasury of Aesop's Fables. Written by Jan Payne. Illustrated by Michael Terry. First printing. Hardbound. Cottage Farm, Sywell, Northampton, UK: Igloo Books Ltd. £7.21 from Kenny's Bookshop & Art Gallery, Galway, through abe, March, '14.
This book typifies many recent children's fable books in several respects: it is colorful, heavy, and its art may have been created on a computer. Like a number of recent books, it has a "puffy" set of covers. This book even has a purple ribbon that ties around it! The book presents twenty-five fables on 192 pages. I find the versions and the illustrations playful and helpful. A snail travelling with the tortoise in TH is so exhausted that we can see his breath (11). A mouse rides on the tortoise's back in the same picture. There is a fine double-page (16-17) of the dramatic moment in LM. In this version of GA, the ant happens by the grasshopper in winter and helps the grasshopper on condition that he promise to change next summer (27). In GGE, the farmer and his wife demand more production from the "Golden Goose" (40), threatening otherwise to take her to market. This goose leaves, and the couple bickers until they get over their greed and return to their former way of life. Another happy ending comes in DS (49) when the dog's mistress gives him the bone he lost and she then found in the stream. Then again, the spider releases the gnat from his web (65). The occasion for TT is that the tortoise wants to have some fun and has envied other animals. There is a fine illustration of the larger tortoise between the two ducks just after takeoff on 84. Tortoise answers a crow "I am special" and tumbles to the ground but only has the wind knocked out of him. "From now on I will be happy just being me!" (87). "The Lion and the Elephant" is also well done: "Everyone has something they are afraid of" (105). The fox tries several approaches with the crow in FC: the cheese is too large for one bird; the cheese will make the crow fat; we need to talk closer to each other; people say you have a great singing voice (116). The donkey does a fine dance on the table (125) before the lapdog explains the donkey to the farmer. Another fine image has the farmer's wife running to help punish the crazy donkey (126). In FG, the fox tries to pole vault and to let the breeze carry him and his umbrella (145). In BW, the boy says the first two times that the shepherd's shouting scared the wolf off (151). "The Hare and the Hound" moralizes aptly: "Winning often depends on who needs to win the most" (177).
2013 Aesop in California. Written and illustrated by Doug Hansen. Written and illustrated by Doug Hansen. First printing. Hardbound. Berkeley, CA: Heyday. $16.95 from Green Apple, San Francisco, June, '13.
This is a surprisingly engaging book. Fifteen fables are well throught through, well written, and beautifully illustrated, all using plants and animals related to California at some time in its history, even down to pizza and lifesavers and birthday cake on a kitchen counter. Each of the fables gets a two-page spread. A good introduction includes Hansen's reason for including morals: he "grew up hearing the fables with a moral attached and decided to present them in that familiar way" (ix). Many morals are proverbial, like the first two. Traditional Aesopic characters, like the crow and bull, yield respectively to native characters like the yellow-billed magpie and the bull elephant seal. CP uses a basket bottle, and TB has a prospector, a bear, and a hollow log. The animal in each initial appears also somewhere in the fable's illustration. In TH, the tortoise makes this proposition: if he wins, the jackrabbit must let him sleep in peace. The hare deliberately takes a "little nap." In BF, the jay uses string. In GA, the ant gives in but the grasshopper promises to work first and play later next year. In this version of "The Bull and the Fly," the kelp fly gets the last word over the elephant seal: "You'll never find another fly like me!" The illustration for FK shows a particularly good King Log. "The Meadowlark and Her Children" includes a beautiful big old tractor. It has a surprising moral: "Your mother knows best." This fable goes through three phases. In the first two the farmer waits for friends; in the third, he changes clothes and gets onto the seat of his tractor. In LM, there's a cord to open the metal trap. The mouse brings it to the lion. At the end there is a section of "Fabulous Facts," offering "abundant details about the animals, plants, and locations depicted in each fable." There is also a map of California on the back cover pinpointing where the fables might take place. This is a beautiful book, beautifully produced.
2013 Aesop Re-visited. Fran Watson. Fran Watson. #5 of 6, signed by the maker. Hardbound. San Diego: $375 from Vamp & Tramp Booksellers, Birmingham, AL, May, '14.
The seller's blurb has this to say: "12.5" x 6"; ten pages including pastedowns. Original text and images. Handprinted linoleum cuts on Rives paper. Bound in black paper wraps with cut-out star tipped on the front cover. Signed and numbered by the artist on the colophon. A re-telling of the tale of a small fowl who believes the world is coming to an end because the stars are falling from the sky." The artist's colophon actually mentions Stonehenge paper. I leave this artist a good deal of slack because of the "Re-visited" in her title. "Chicken Little" is not from Aesop, and this booklet does not proceed as "Chicken Little" does. The story is a common folktale. In its standard form, a chick believes that the sky is falling because an acorn has fallen on his head. The present booklet begins rather "Chicken Little, I heard you say the stars have fallen down." The interlocutor notes that not a sound has been heard. The lovely second stage of the conversation then offers "If indeed a star should fall, would there be a sound at all? Or would there be a mournful sigh, a sound so sad the clouds would cry?" The final phase has this text: "Little bird you are wrong. The stars did not fall but they will fade. They dim their light for the coming day." I have added punctuation in these quotations. Lovely red and black art in a beautifully constructed book. I have learned that Fran Watson has lived in Los Angeles, Houston and Boston, and now lives in San Diego. She is a painter and printmaker and has been creating artist books for many years. She is one of the founders of the San Diego Book Arts and her work appears in many University and private collections.
2013 Aesop's Fables. Michael Rosen. Illustrations by Talleen Hacikyian. First printing. Hardbound. Vancouver and London: Tradewind Books. $16.95 at Vroman's Bookstore, Pasadena, August., '13.
Each of thirteen fables get a spread of two pages facing each other, with one page for text and moral and the other for a page-covering illustration. The final line of DW is "I'd rather be free than be a well-fed slave." I find the beginning thoughts of the frog in OF unlikely. He sees the bull and admits both that the bull is bigger than a hundred frogs and that he is only as big as the bull's eyeball. Does not the fable go better if either the bull is out of sight or the frog thinks he is close to as big as the bull? In "The Axe and the Fir Trees," multiple people come to the woods to ask for help in getting axe handles. The Country Mouse seems to stay several days in town before repeated human footsteps scare him back to his home. Morals are lengthy and accomodating, as in FG: "Don't fool yourself into saying that something is bad, when really you know it's good. You're probably only saying it because you can't have it." The artist's style is thoroughly distinctive. The background in each picture is black. The animals have curved geometric figures, often, as on the cover, with gentle arcs joining them. Perhaps best of all the good illustrations is FC, where crow, cheese, and fox form an almost complete circle. WL has an unusually stark illustration: the reflection of the wolf in the water has the lamb already inside him. The book is not paginated.
2013 Aesop's Fables. English text adaptation by Martin West (German original by Renate Raecke). Ayano Imai. First impression. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. Hong Kong: Minedition: Michael Neugebauer Publishing Ltd. $13.67 from Amazon, Oct., '13.
I had found the 2012 German original of this lovely book in Mannheim fifteen months ago. This book was pre-ordered through Amazon, and so it is indeed a first impression. I will repeat comments I made there. The book is unusual in opening not from right to left but from down to up; that is, one needs to hold it sideways and lift the cover. The cover picture shows the half-painted jackdaw as he returns after opening his craw and being recognized by the doves whose food he was eating. Why does his fellow jackdaw have various colored feathers protruding from his black body and even one such feather in his beak? The pearl that the rooster finds in CJ is part of a ring. The little goat dancing for the wolf uses a hula-hoop! The expanding frog in OF is about to reach the ceiling of a modernistic garden-house! He is elevated off the floor like a helium-filled balloon. The one illustration for FS includes both the plate for the stork and the vase for the fox. In fact, the wall behind the stork features several plates and the floor behind the fox shows three large vases with steam bubbles emerging from them. The resting hare in TH has a hammock slung across the trail. The dropped meat bubbles through the text, dividing its lines in DS. The grapes break down through the ceiling of the fox's room in FG as clouds blow through the windows. The city mouse is fishing in the soup at the city meal in TMCM! A highway--or a racetrack?--winds among cheese wedges and salt and pepper shakers in this fable's tailpiece. The rack of the stag in the pool reaches out like a tree and even includes a birdhouse! What lovely imaginative work! The book is, as regularly with Neugebauer, beautifully produced.
2013 Aesop's Fables. Ann McGovern. A.J. McClaskey. First printing. Paperbound. NY: Scholastic Inc. $5.97 from MovieMars, Indian Trail, NC through eBay, Oct., '13.
Here is a brand new reworking of both McGovern's texts and McClaskey's art. A livelier TH cartoon cover replaces the more classical FG on the earlier two covers. There is a clear reference to the text as copyrighted in 1963 by McGovern, but the very first fable evidences several changes. The first sentence changes "A hungry fox stole into a vineyard" to "A hungry fox snuck into a vineyard" (3). This edition uses only black-and-white internally but livens up the page with more dramatic backgrounds and typefaces. This book in format is uniform with the later and smaller "Apple Classics" version of the book. That series is not mentioned here. The price of the book has gone from the original's "$.45" to the Apple Classics' "$2.75" to the present $4.99. "About Aesop" in the earliest version was the first element a reader met after the title-page. In the Apple Classics version, it was at the book's back. Now it has come back, slightly modified, as "Introduction" at the front.
2013 Aesop's Fables. S.A. Handford. Illuistrations by Brian Robb. Introduction by Marcus Sedgwick. Paperbound. London: Puffin: Penguin: Pearson. $4.99 from an unknown source, June, '13.
As the verso of the title-page makes clear, this book has a rich history. It was first published by Penguin in 1954, with a new edition in 1964. Puffin published it in 1993. This new Puffin edition does, as far as I can tell, three things. First, it reduces the book's page size. The book is only a few pages longer, because most fables still fit easily on one page. Secondly, it corrects the long-standing error through all those earlier editions, which had in the quotation beginning #96, "Metamorphosis," the Latin "expells" for what should be "expellas." This edition has "expellas." Thirdly, this edition adds a three-page introduction by Marcus Sedgwick. He reviews what can be known about Aesop and about fables and offers a lovely quotation from Apollonius about Aesop: "He was really more attached to truth than the poets are; for the latter do violence to their own stories in order to make them probable; but he, by announcing a story which everyone knows not to be true, told the truth by the very fact that he did not claim to be relating real events" (vii). Here we have 207 numbered fables on 218 pages, as the beginning T of C makes clear. The cover here features a two-color presentation of TH.
2013 Aesop's Fables. V.S. Vernon Jones. Illustrations by Arthur Rackham. Hardbound. San Diego: Canterbury Classics: Baker & Taylor Publishing Group. $14.95 from Books, Inc., Berkeley, Dec., '14.
Here is a surprising reprint of Jones and Rackham's work. Its special feature is a soft orange "composition" cover. Embossed into this composition front cover are some twelve morals from Aesop's fables around a blue title. On the back cover, the fable of "The Two Sacks" is embossed entire. Inside, the book has 284 numbered fables on 239 pages. The book stops dead at that point. Along the way are many Rackham illustrations, unfortunately all reduced to gray-and-white. Some, like "The Moon and Her Mother" (14) are particularly indistinct. It would be informative sometime to count the number of reprints of Jones and Rackham that have appeared in the time since the copyright expired in 1987. This edition and at least some of my other reprints have in "The Kid and the Wolf" on 165 a typo whereby the "gods" gave chase to the wolf, when clearly "dogs" is asked for by the story. I had already bought this book from Amazon but it got sent to Berkeley, where it will wait some months for me to pick it up. Ironically, I found this copy staring at me on a random visit to this bookshop on Fifth Street in Berkeley, and I did not recognize it as the book I had ordered earlier.
2013 Aesop's Forgotten Fables. Retold by Fiona Waters. Illustrated by Fulvio Testa. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. London: Andersen Press. $14.99 from Amazon, Oct., '13.
I got this lovely book at a much reduced rate by ordering it early on Amazon. The combination of Waters and Testa remains strong, as it did in their 2010 "Aesop's Fables." The flyleaf proclaims "This stunning collection revitalises forty of Aesop's lesser-known fables, which have been rewritten by the talented anthologist, Fiona Waters, and sumptuously illustrated by renowned artist, Fulvio Testa." Yes! Every fable but the last follows the same format: a left-hand page offers a title, a smaller image, a text, and a moral. The right-hand page is completely covered with a second illustration. The last fable spills over onto third and fourth pages with yet another illustration on the last page. Waters makes the best sense I have seen of "The Fisherman and his Music" (18). Testa's magic is again at work in the peaceful smile of the sleeping dog on 27 while his blacksmith master casts an unapproving eye on him. In this version of "The Boy Bathing," the man is still lecturing on the bank and the boy is still struggling in the water as the fable ends (34). Both the telling and the picture are fine in SS (50); this peddler goes directly back to market twice after the ass's first and second slips, and, after the third "slip" "set off home with a quietly satisfied smile on his face." Both picture and moral are superb for "The Travellers and the Plane Tree": "A freely given service is often met with ingratitude" (62). "The Leopard and the Fox" (82) makes a fine cover picture, repeated on the dust-jacket.
2013 Arctic Aesop's Fables: Twelve Retold Fables. Susi Gregg Fowler. Illustrations by Jim Fowler. Paperbound. Seattle: Sasquatch Books. $8.65 from Amazon.com, April, 13.
This is a fine book. The full-page colored illustrations are lively and directed at key moments in the fables. But two things make this book particularly good. The first is the keen adaptation to arctic animals. The second, even more impressive, is the lively, coherent tellings of the fables. Fowler has thought them through and presented them in cogent fashion. "The Arctic Fox and the Raven" is a good example. The fox here first praises the fox's feathers. He then wonders whether the raven can move as elegantly as his appearance suggests. He is suitably impressed when the raven moves about. "I don't suppose it is possible that your voice could match your looks…." makes just the right approach, I think. In another well-thought through adaptation, the raven finds a jar half buried in the ground. Choosing both a jar and half-burial are helpful to this fable. The illustration matches the telling perfectly. One of the more fully transformed fables is titled "The Arctic Ground Squirrel and the Sandhill Crane." Again the illustration matches perfectly: a terrified ground squirrel looks from so high above that he cannot recognize what he sees. Fowler's telling invites the reader into the ground squirrel's experience, which indicates that flying is not everything it is cracked up to be! Another full transformation turns an ant into a mosquito, a hunter into a fox, and a pigeon into a goose -- and comes off perhaps more successful than the Aesopic original. This fine book suggests that 2013 is off to a great sta
2013 Beastly Tales from Here and There. Vikram Seth. Illustrated by Prabha Mallya. First printing of this edition. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. New Delhi: Puffin Books:Penguin Books India. 599 Rupees from Oxford Book Store, Kolkata, Dec., '13.
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.
2013 Best of Aesop's Fables. Edited by Shyam Dua. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. Noida, India: Tiny Tot Best of Series: Tiny Tot Publications. See 2007/13.
2013 Chinese Fables: "The Dragon Slayer" and Other Timeless Tales of Wisdom. Shiho S. Nunes. Illustrated by Lak-Khee Tay-Audouard. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. Tokyo/Rutland, VT/Singapore: Tuttle Publishing. $16.95 from Green Apple, San Francisco, June, '13.
The preface describes the stories here as "cautionary tales" like fables and parables. The golden age for such tales in China was in the fourth and third centuries BCE. The preface refers to Wilfram Eberhard's "Chinese Fables and Parables" as a great source; I will need to look for it. This book presents nineteen of these stories. They depict mostly human beings, like the bride that jogs inside her carrying sedan when it breaks down or the man who muffles his ears so that the sound of breaking up a huge bronze bell will not give him away. "The King of Beasts" (33) is traditional and well known. In it, a captured fox convinces his capturing lion that he is the king of beasts by inviting the lion to walk behind him as he visits all the animals. A typical story among those here is "Cooking the Duck" (39). Two brothers waiting to hunt ducks get into an argument about their preparation. Their arguing and fighting scare away the ducks. "Scaring the Tigers" (45) is fun. As mother tiger explains to her cub, "I can fight thieves and robbers any day. And bows and arrows are nothing to me. But I cannot fight a monk who asks me for that many donations!" (46). "The Dragon Slayer" (47) is an apt story of an ambitious young man who spurned all other possible livelihoods to study as a dragon-slayer for years. When he came back ready to practice his trade, "Chu found no dragons, and he was left with nothing to do" (48). "No Takers" (51) echoes classical Western stories. A saint offers to every creature to change its one ugly feature so that it has a pleasing face. "There were no takers" (51). "The Egg" (52) is like MM, only in this case the wife throws the source of all their coming wealth, one egg, against the wall when her husband declares that they will use their future riches to buy a maid. A note at the book's end describes the whimsical illustrations as inspired by Chinese folk art. Elements of traditional Chinese art incorporated include earth, charcoal, ground tea powder, pressed leaves, and sackcloth. The pencil and wash illustrations were done on bamboo rag paper. The illustration for "The Practical Bride" (6) offers a fine example, as the bride's feet are barely visible under the sedan.
2013 Der Rabe und der Fuchs: Die schönsten Fabeln von La Fontaine. Mit Pop-ups von Thierry Dedieu. Hardbound. Munich: Knesebeck GmBH & Co. $17.89 from Amazon, August, '14.
Here is my fifth Dedieu pop-up book, the third German. It has not appeared yet in English, and I just ordered the French. This is again exquisite work. The six fables presented here are FC; GA; OF; WC; LM, and TMCM. The hint of the outside world in TMCM is good, as is the movable proximity of frog to ox in OF and of fox to crow in FC. In each case, the fable text is presented on the left and the right of the central pop-up picture. As in the other four Dedieu copies I have, the book is beautifully put together.
2013 Die schönsten Fabeln aus aller Welt. Zusammengestellt von Nina Strugholz. Mit Bildern von Anna Marshall. Hardbound. Esslingen, Germany: Esslinger Verlag J.F. Schreiber. €18.95 from Thalia, Mannheim, July, '14.
This book is a treat for two reasons. First, it has fun with its fables. The art plays with the texts, and there is some art with every text. Secondly, the breadth of fables here is remarkable. So many resources well used! Even Rafik Schami has a nine-page story here. I am delighted to find someone who took the time to assemble so many good texts. I count some seventy-five texts, and no single author is given a monopoly. The fox and stork on the cover are only a first suggestion of the fun here. Their true story shows up on 118-19. Among the best new texts for me I would mention Pfeffel's "Der Junge Hase" (107) who got a bloody nose, not from a dog but from "a huge mouse"! Among the best illustrations I would mention "Das Hähnchen, die Katze und das Mäuschen" (46-47). Well done!
2013 Fables and Tales by the German Aesop, C.F. Gellert (1715-1769). Translated by John W.Van Cleve. With a Foreword by Bruce Duncan. Paperbound. Lampeter, UK: The Edwin Mellen Press. $29.95 from Amazon.com, Sept., '14.
The title continues: "A Moral Teacher of the German Nation." Here is a helpful book, especially since this collection includes no other translation of Gellert's work. The foreword helps carve out Gellert's place in the history of fable. Reading of a sample of the offerings here prompts the following reactions. It is hard for me to know when we are dealing with a fable and when with an "Erzählung," especially since the former tend to be longer and the latter shorter than we would expect. A frequent target is writers of low quality. They are like larks trying to vie with nightingales. It is no use, and people recognize poorer quality. This theme appears in "The Nightingale and the Cuckoo" (189-90) and elsewhere. "Two Black Men" (208-10) is a curious piece. Two black slaves are in love with the same black woman. They love each other, and she loves them both. She refuses to settle the matter and leaves it to them to choose whom she will marry. They struggle long with their feelings and finally decide together on the following plan: they kill her and then each other! Gellert's moral is just as curious: "The cause of acts that break all Nature's laws/Can be an impulse noble in itself/That has become depraved as time has passed--/And just because it never has been trained." I find "The Monkey" (136-37) helpful. A monkey studies players playing checkers and wants to get in the game. A serious player asks the monkey "Should I do x?" and the monkey nods "Yes." "Should I do y?" "Yes." Should I do z?" "Yes." If people want you to think they have grasped exactly what you are saying, ask their advice. If they say a quick "yes," you will know that they "don't have a clue." Gellert tells the traditional fable of the blind man and lame man. Advantages given to others belong to us all "As long as we're companions here below." An old favorite of mine is "The Land of the Lame" (23-24). The easy walker is laughed at in the land of the lame; he needs to learn how to walk!
2013 Fables Chinoises du IIIe au VIIIe Siècle de Notre Ere. Traduites par Édouard Chavannes, Versifiées par Mme. Édouard Chavannes. Dessins d'Andrée Karpelès. Préface by Joseph Bédier. Paperbound. Paris: Éditions You Feng Libraire & Éditeur. €7 from Éditions You Feng Libraire & Éditeur, August, '14.
The cover of this reprint is almost identical with the cover of a book I have by the same title and the same authors, but the books are, I learn to my surprise, totally different. Chavannes and Chavannes did a book for Éditions Bossard in 1921. It included eighteen Chinese fables of Hindu origin, accompanied by 46 designs of Andrée Karpelès of various sorts and sizes. The first two stories were "Le Buveur du vin" and "Beau-Pelage et Belles-Dents." The booklet had 94 + iv pages. Now here is a copy of a book which had the same dimensions (5" x 6½"), title, authors, and publisher. It contains twenty-two Chinese fables of Hindu origin different from those in the 1921 edition, accompanied by fewer Karpelès designs. The cover no longer mentions the number of designs. This booklet was published in 1927, with a preface by Joseph Bédier. Its first two stories are "Queue en tête" and "La Cruche." It has 114 + iv pages. I sampled "Le Loup et la Brebis" (77) and "Le Lion et le Chacal" 101). They are effective and in keeping with the tradition of fable literature. The woodcuts range from small printer's designs to full-page illustrations. I find them rather simple and predictable.
2013 Fábulas. Marcela Grez. Marifé González. Paperbound. Madrid: Todolibro Ediciones: Susaeta. $20.34 from Unbeatable Sale, Lakewood, NJ, June, '13.
Here is a delightful and creative book. The cover proclaims "¡Levanta y mira! Con 35 ventanas para abrir." Each of the seven fables has five "windows" to open to find specific phases of the fable. Some are surprising to me, like the window in TH that has the wolf hurrying to get to the finish line. Perhaps to accommodate the especially heavy four-ply pages, the book is spiral bound. What a lovely surprise this book is! The fables here are GGE, MM, FC, BC, TH, "The Cat and the Old Rat," and GA. I had to go to the web to find a date for this book.
2013 Fábulas Enganchadas. Graciela Repún y Enrique Melantoni. Ilustraciones: Sofía Romacciotti. 1a editión, 1a reimpressión. Paperbound. Buenos Aires: Uranito Libros: Ediciones Urano. See 2011/13.
2013 Famous Stories from Jataka Tales. Designed by Rangoli. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. Delhi: Shanti Children's Books: Shanti Publications. See 2007/13.
2013 La Fontaine Raconté aux Enfants. Des histoires adaptées par Marc Séassau. Illustrées par Élodie Durand, Philippe Jalbert et Sébastien Pelon. Hardbound. Champigny-sur-Marne, France: Éditions Lito. €14 from Gibert Joseph, Paris, August, '14.
There are seven fables here, as the early illustrated T of C shows. They are the perfect choices for little children: FC, TH, GA, OF, WL, FS, and LM. La Fontaine's verse is transformed into easily understood prose. The illustration styles are colorful and lively. As on the title -page, the climactic page of FC has a line to show the path of flight of the cheese from crow's beak to fox's mouth. After each good prose telling, there is a La Fontaine's verse text. The first scene of TH has animals in various human pre-jogging poses. The bear even has his water-bottle! The frog makes frog paw-marks in the stripe that the stag has drawn as the starting line. True to La Fontaine's version, the hare rests with his soda-plus-straw at the starting line. He tells himself that this victory will bring him no great glory. In this version, it is to show his defiance that he takes a little nap at the starting line. He awakens to see the tortoise almost at the finish line. In GA, the cicada here does not say the full the sentence that includes "Je chantais." OF starts with a lovely rhyming proverb: "D'un oeuf, jamais on ne fera un boeuf. Cette morale n'a rien de neuf." The frog here undergoes an identity crisis. She had thought herself the "queen of places." Her humiliation sets up here for her attempt to get back her identity. Her skin takes on various colors. "Petit ou grand, restez vous - même car c'est ainsi qu'on vous aime." The book's most dramatic images are those of the black wolf encountering the white lamb. If I were a parent of a young child, I would be delighted to read him or her this book.
2013 La Fontaine's Complete Fables in Modern Verse. Translated by Randolph Paul Runyon. Vimar. Signed by the author. Paperbound. CreateSpace: Amazon. $12.99 from Melissa Duran, Santa Fe, NM, through eBay, May, '14.
This is a surprising book in several ways. First, I am surprised and delighted to see someone take on the task of translating all of La Fontaine's fables. Bravo! Secondly, I am surprised to find this a print-upon-demand book. Thirdly, I am surprised to find an apparent dedication by the author: "For Gina and Joe, All best wishes, Randy." I am surprised to see the many illustrations here. Most are black-and-white illustrations by Vimar. There seems to be a second set of more fully colored illustrations. I am surprised finally that neither of these artists is acknowledged. I have read a number of the early fables in Book 2, and I find them delightful. Several may be liberal in their transformation of La Fontaine's fables into suitable contemporary language. Several also play with distinct rhythms at the very end of the fable. I am surprised to see rhyming couplets work so well. Well done! Runyon is the author of a number of books, including "In La Fontaine's Labyrinth: A Thread Through the Fables" and a translation of the Contes.
2013 La Fontaine's Complete Fables in Modern Verse. Translated by Randolph Paul Runyon. Vimar. Paperbound. CreateSpace: Amazon. $11.99 from Amazon.com, Oct., '13.
I thought I already had a copy of this book. At last I have found it on a shelf of books waiting to be catalogued. This copy is identical with one already catalogued except that this has no signed note from the author. I will keep it in the collection as a clean copy. As I write there, this is a surprising book in several ways. First, I am surprised and delighted to see someone take on the task of translating all of La Fontaine's fables. Bravo! Secondly, I am surprised to find this a print-upon-demand book. Thirdly, I am surprised to see the many illustrations here. Most are black-and-white illustrations by Vimar. There seems to be a second set of more fully colored illustrations. I am surprised finally that neither of these artists is acknowledged. I have read a number of the early fables in Book 2, and I find them delightful. Several may be liberal in their transformation of La Fontaine's fables into suitable contemporary language. Several also play with distinct rhythms at the very end of the fable. I am surprised to see rhyming couplets work so well. Well done! Runyon is the author of a number of books, including "In La Fontaine's Labyrinth: A Thread Through the Fables" and a translation of the Contes.
2013 Les Animaux Malades de la Peste. Jean de La Fontaine. Olivier Morel. Hardbound. Paris: Petit Livre Grand Texte: Éditions courtes et longues. €9.50 from Gibert Joseph, Paris, August, '14.
This book presents a strong and even provocative version of this great fable. The back cover speaks rightly of Morel's "gravures explosives." The very size of the book helps with its overlarge and unusual format: 9⅜" x 13". Bombed cities and gas masks -- even on birds -- help to set the scene. The ass's first appearance is revealing: he sits awkwardly in a light colored suit without a tie among other animals in dark business suits and ties. In the midst of the lion's confession, his face appears in a double-page spread screaming and bloody. Murderous animals appear in monk's robes as they confess their "peccadilloes." Fox, alligator, and clerical wolf are all well rendered, suitably hypocritical -- and then suitably outraged at the ass's terrible crime. Strong stuff, well done!
2013 Les Fables de La Fontaine: 22 fables et plus de 150 illustrations. Illustrations: Lenivitz Production/Irina Sarnavska. Hardbound. Paris: Edigo. €5.95 from Gibert Joseph, August, '14.
Here is one of the simpler illustrated editions of La Fontaine's fables. The paper is cheap, and the drawings eminently simple. The book's most attractive feature is that it breaks each fable into something like four to six parts, with the accompanying text for each part. Among the best illustrations is that of the wolf carrying off the lamb on 83. The wolf in WC has been picnicking and is so disturbed that he has knocked over his wine jug (100). Apparently in La Fontaine, the fox and the goat both go down into the well at the same time (147-8).
2013 Most Loved Tales from Panchatantra and Timeless Tales from Panchatantra (cover: Great Tales from Panchatantra). Fifth printing/Third printing. Hardbound. Uttar Pradesh, India: OM Kidz: Om Books International. See 2007/13.
2013 Posada and Manilla: Illustrations for Mexican Fairy Tales/Artistas del Cuento Mexiccano. Mercurio López Casillas. Illustrations from the work of Jose Guadalupe Posada and Manuel Manilla. Paperbound. Mexico City: Editorial RM. $24.95 from Daedalus Books, Portland, July, '13.
This is a fascinating, curious, lovely book found waiting on the counter at Daedalus as I was ready to pay for other books. It gives a sampling of two outstanding artists of Mexican children's books: Manuel Manilla (1839-1895) and Jose Guadalupe Posada (1852-1913). A late chapter, "Animal Fables/Animales de fábulas," reports that fables of wolf versus fox were particularly prominent. Besides those fables, this chapter offers illustrations, covers, and pages from "El Leon y el grillito"; "Cucarachita Monginga y raton Perez"; "La Rana y el raton"; "De la Subida mas alta y la caida mas lastimosa"; "Los Ratones tontos y el gato astuto"; and "El Grillito valeroso." The book has a half dust-jacket, which also serves as an envelope for a little copy of "El Rey y sus tres hijos." Lovely stuff!
2013 Standard Deutsch 5/6: Leseheft, Fabeln. Erarbeitet von Merve Klapper und Maren Spieker. Illustriert von Uta Bettzieche. Erste Auflage, Dritte Druck. Paperbound. Berliln: Cornelson Schulverlag. €5.37 from Amazon.de, Jan., '15.
This is an impressive classroom text, inviting good reflective work with an array of Aesopic fables and other works derived from them. The accompanying highly stylized colored cartoons are engaging. Early fables like Aesop's "The Fox in the Well" have pupils applying some twenty-two adjectives to either the fox or the goat. For TH, the pupil needs to describe either character. Next we read four fox fables from Aesop and La Fontaine and are asked to track the characteristics of the fox. Soon we are choosing our own set of five suitable fable animals and assigning three adjectives to each. Then we follow a Wilhelm Busch fable that has the fox dividing up spoil between King Lion and a wolf. This fable's illustration is the pamphlet's cover picture. Perhaps one of the best of Bettzieche's cartoons is the arrogant sack of the next fable, which is promptly put in its place by the grains which it carries. The circle widens to include a Friedrich Wolf fable about three animals that escape a pit only to fall into arguing with each other and being caught again. By mid-book pupils work with a definition of fable and some history of Aesop. There is even a separate answer-book for teachers. I find this an insightful introduction to fable. I can only wish it were in English!
2013 The Aesopic Fables Written in Hurrian. Arnaud Fournet. 1st edition. Paperbound. La Garenne Colombes, France: Collection Développons: TheBookEdition.com. €29 from TheBookEdition.com, May, '13.
Carl Sandler Berkowitz tipped me off to the existence of this book shortly after it was published, and I deeply appreciate the tip. This scholarly paperback brings the sixty-second language to this collection. After an introduction, there are two chapters on two tablets found at Bogazköy, Turkey in 1983 and 1985. A philological overview of the tablets follows, succeeded by a Hurrian dictionary. The cuneiform fonts must have made this a terribly hard book to publish! Those wishing to go straight to the fables will do well to attend to the "continuous translations" that appear on 28, 35, 42, 46, 47, 53, 56, 61, and 68. The "Philological Overview" in Chapter 4 provides a summary list of the nine tales on Kbo 32.12 (73) and the fourteen tales on Kbo 32.14 (74). Some eleven pages of bibliography, labeled "References," close the book.
2013 The Best of Moral Stories and Moral Stories. Illustration: Salil Anand, Kushiram, Jyoti. Second printing. Hardbound. New Delhi: OM Kidz: OM Books. See 2012/2013.
2013 The Fables of Jean de La Fontaine/Bilingual Edition: English-French. Elizur Wright. Franz Snyders Cover: The Fox and the Heron. Sarah E. Holroyd. Paperbound. : Sleeping Cat Books. $16.74 from Premier Books, Roseburg, OR, through eBay, May, '14.
Here is another publish-on-demand book. It is meant, the back cover tells us, for students learning French. It presents some forty fables with the English on the left and the French on the right. That painting of "The Fox and the Heron" on the cover by Franz Snyders is quite lovely! I am not comfortable yet with publishers who do not have a place!
2013 The Tortoise & the Hare. Jerry Pinkney. First printing. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. NY: Little, Brown and Company. $10.80 from Amazon, Oct., '13.
Pinkney's art is consistent in its style. And his approach to the story here is excellent. One is surprised to move through the book and find very little text. There is only, part by part, sometimes repeated, always building, the moral "Slow and steady wins the race." Perhaps Pinkney's best illustration here has one eyelid down and the other drooping on the resting hare. The "Artist's Note" at the book's back is helpful. "The tortoise proves that it can be wise to have a goal, but one should relish the process of getting there. The handling of the text in this version echoes that message by starting over, again and again, building momentum toward the finish line. But I wanted the hare to teach something, too. Winning isn't eveything. He surprises his friends by not being the sore loser they might expect. Competitors can also be teammates and friends." As he points out, the setting is in the American Southwest. He wanted to make his pictures vibrant,and he accomplishes that goal. Dressing the characters, as he mentions, is a good means to attain that end. This is another fine book!
2013 Two Crafty Jackals: The Animal Fables of Kalilah and Dimnah. Elizabeth Laird. Illustrations Attributed to Sadiqi Beg. First printing. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. Toronto: Aga Khan Museum. AU $30.94 from Hungry Bookworm/The Bookhub through eBay, August, '14.
Here is a lovely, brief, well executed "Kalilah and Dimnah." New to me and perfectly placed as Kalilah's warning to Dimnah is "The Hare, the Wolf, and the Fox" (22-23). In fact, several of the stories here are new to me: "The Scorpion and the Tortoise" (26-27), "The Hawk and the Chicken" (30), "The Gardener and the Nightingale" (32-33); and "The Frog, the Crab, the Snake, and the Weasel" (46-47). Each is strategically placed in the evolving drama. The illustrations here are easier to track than where I have encountered them elsewhere because here they include only one scene and focus on it. The surrealistic multi-colored background mountains from the originals are here. So is the weird fire surrounding the "witness tree" (48). Particularly good among the illustrations are "The Hare and the Lion" (25); the climactic battle (43); and "The Gardener and the Bear" (50). A helpful section on 60-63 shows what the original manuscript pages and their illustrations look like. Dimnah here starves in prison, "full of bitter regret for what he had done to Shanzabeh" (58). What a fine book!
2013 Usborne Big Book of Little Stories. Susanna Davidson, Leslie Sims, and others. Illustrated by Mike and Carl Gordon, Merel Eyckerman, and others. Hardbound. Tulsa, OK: Educational Development Corporation: Usborne Books. $21.99 from Usborne Books, Sioux Falls Flea Market, Nov., '14.
This is a square book about 8" on a side. Among its fifteen stories are "The Emperor's New Clothes," retold by Susanna Davidson, and GA, retold by Leslie Sims. Mike and Carl Gordon illustrate the former and Merel Eyckerman the latter. There is something of Quentin Blake in the funny drawings for the former. They do several stories and do them well. The accent in GA is less on singing and more on avoiding work. The ant here immediately invites the grasshopper in to get warm and to eat. The art has a laid-back quality that suits this story perfectly, by contrast with the Gordons' busy style. It is curious that the back cover claims that the publisher is Educational Development Corporation in Tulsa. The book's final pages reveal that it was first published by Usborne Books in London. This book is remarkably heavy.
2013 Usborne Illustrated Stories from Aesop. Retold by Susanna Davidson. Illustrated by Giuliano Ferri. Hardbound. London: Usborne Publishing. $19.99 from Flea Market, Sioux Falls, SD, Nov., '14.
I visited this monthly flea-market as a part of a visit with my cousin Barb, and there in the middle of the market was an Usborne representative selling books at non-flea-market prices. I have enjoyed Usborne books for a long time and was happy to find three new fable books. This is a squat edition, 6" x 7¾" with puffy covers. Its 272 pages are divided into eight categories, with three to six stories in each group. The categories are Pride, Trickery, Greed, Quarrels, Friendship, Cunning, Retorts, and Comeuppance. I tried the first several. The story versions are good and filled out nicely with picturesque details. All but TH are well thought through. Davidson has the hare deliberately nap, planning on making the race competitive when the turtle catches up near the end. The illustrations are charming and colorful. FC on 14 is a good example. The book is physically heavy. I am confused because the colophon page claims "First printed in America in 2013," while the back cover says "Printed in Guangdong, China."
2013 Write with Lions. Jim Markus. Illustrated by Nicole Meekhof. Paperbound. More Known Books. $14.31 from Buy.com through eBay, Sept., '14.
This is a lively book. Markus has imagined the fables' stories afresh. He thus comes up with a line I cannot remember hearing for one of his earliest fables. The miser whose buried gold was stolen hears from the neighbor: "When the gold was there, you had it not" (25). Even more, Markus directs the fables here specifically to writers. What might have been labeled a "moral" elsewhere here becomes "Aesop's Tip," and it is specific to writers. For example, after the fable about a fox and goat in a well, "Aesop's Tip" is "Look before you leap. Before accepting a writing assignment, make sure to understand the expectations and the audience. Don't be afraid to ask questions " (30). For each of the thirty-five fables, there are then several "Writing Prompts." For "The Fox and the Goat," these include writing a "trapped trickster traps foolish helper" modern story, writing an alternate fable in which the goat escapes, and rewriting with new characters in a modern city. The illustrations for each of the thirty-five contribute by pointing towards the "Tip." The mother monkey, for example, on 56 has an appropriate look of chagrin for this fable and her child an appropriate look of fear as he is cradled protectively by her arms. The book adds eleven additional fables with only writing prompts. Further sections are "Writing Games and Exercises" and "Worksheets." This may be the first "print-on-demand" book I can recommend to people. I also celebrate because it happens to be the 8000th book catalogued in this collection.
2013 You Read to Me, I'll Read to You: Very Short Fables to Read Together. By Mary Ann Hoberman. Illustrated by Michael Emberley. First paperback edition. Paperbound. NY: Megan Tingley Books: Little, Brown and Company. $6.99 from Green Apples, San Francisco, July, '13.
I thought I was buying a second copy of a book already in the collection. That is true, but there is a curious shift in the format of the cover and title-page. This edition emphasizes the second half of that title. Has perhaps more of a series of "You Read to Me, I'll Read to You" grown up in the meantime? Let me repeat what I wrote about the 2010 hardbound first edition. The format of this book uses colors to indicate alternating readers within its thirteen fables. As the introduction proclaims, "You take one voice, I, the other; then we read to one another." The moral is in a different color and is to be proclaimed chorally. Before and alongside that introduction, we see two characters dressing up in seven steps as TM and CM. In the first fable, TH, we notice that the alternating characters not only have different colored texts, but the texts rhyme and are set into different columns. With almost every pair of statements comes a strong cartoon of the specific action, so that in TH there are eight different scenes presenting the action. In TH, the two racers ride bicycles -- and of course wear helmets! BW has the shepherd boy crying out "Wolf!" every day. His sheep read books, play cards, and ride bicycles. The townsfolk are in Fitzpatrick's having a beer -- and stay there finally on the catastrophic day. City Mouse is a female flapper (14). The cow in DM drives a tractor. In FG, three grapes are little purple people with voices (18-19). "When you cannot have a share,/Don't pretend you do not care." Particularly well done for children is "The Peacock and the Crane" (20-21): good looks are not everything. SW involves more creative visualizing (24-25) even though the bet is poorly conceived. "Make him take off his warm coat if you can." In GA, the ant drives a tractor. The ending of GA seems to me unresolved. The ants seem to come out with food for the grasshopper and to dance around his fire. There is no suggestion in the text that they help him. The last words from one of them are "Don't bother me!" In LM, the mouse deliberately tickles the lion's nose (30-31). This book represents a great way to experience fables!
2013? Aesop's Fables. Paperbound. Liluah Howrah, India: Young Reader Value Based Indian Writings: Future Publishers. 50 Rupees from Oxford Bookstore, Kolkata, Dec., '13.
Sixty-four stories get one partial-page black-and-white design each. The stories are standard Aesopic offerings. The book is a solid inexpensive paperback. I found several in the series while I was in the Oxford Bookstore in Kolkata. This copy is marked down 10 rupees as an introductory offer. There is a T of C for the numbered stories at the beginning. All are familiar stories, even when told with some variations. Several, e.g. "The Two Goats" (50), are variants of stories appearing in other books in the series. The same is true for MSA (58), which here features a washerman, his son, and a bundle of clothing, as in "Popular Stories from Panchatantra." The cover features a beautiful falling blue and yellow tortoise from TT! He is asking "Ohh, why I ever can't shut my mouth." There is a crease in the front cover.
2013? Moral Stories of Grandma. Retold by Rashmi Jaiswal. Paperbound. Liluah Howrah, India: Young Reader Value Based Indian Writings: Future Publishers. 50 Rupees from Oxford Bookstore, Kolkata, Dec., '13.
Forty-four stories get one -- and often more -- partial-page black-and-white designs each. The stories are mostly standard Aesopic offerings. The book is a solid inexpensive paperback. I found several in the series while I was in the Oxford Bookstore in Kolkata. This copy is marked down 10 rupies as an introductory offer. There is a T of C for the numbered stories at the beginning. Almost all are familiar stories, even when told with some variations. Several, e.g., "Friendship of the Owl and the Swan" (90) and and "Brainless Donkey" (93), are variants of stories appearing in other books in the series. New to me are "Palms Without Hair" (21), "The Clever Prince" (100), and "The Sage and the Snake" (137). "The Greedy Man" (43) has a man walking an extra kilometer time after time to get a cheaper coconut. It turns out that the cheapest coconut is the one he brings down from the tree, but he suffers multiple injuries in a fall. The bear of the usual tale about smashing a friend's head to kill a fly here is a monkey bodyguard for a king (128).
2013? Moral Stories of Grandpa. Paperbound. Liluah Howrah, India: Young Reader Value Based Indian Writings: Future Publishers. 50 Rupies from Oxford Bookstore, Kolkata, Dec., '13.
The title-page has "Moral Story of Grandpa." Fifty-two stories get generally one partial-page black-and-white design each. The stories are mostly standard Aesopic offerings. The book is a solid inexpensive paperback. I found several in the series while I was in the Oxford Bookstore in Kolkata. This copy is marked down 10 rupies as an introductory offer. There is a T of C for the numbered stories at the beginning. Almost all are familiar stories, even when told with some variations. Several, e.g. GGE (5) and "The Blue Fox" (117), are variants of stories appearing in other books in the series. In "The Two Goats" here, they agree that one will walk over the sitting other, and both can arrive (20). New to me are "Jungles Without Animals" (57) and "Choosing the Next Ruler" (98). "The Boy and the Barber" (74) is a funny story of a boy who fools with a barber by asking for a shave. The barber lathers him up but then waits on other customers. "When will I get my shave?" "When you grow your beard!" In "The Magical Sticks" (106), a clever king threatens five servants, one of whom is certainly a thief, by giving each a stick. "The thief's stick will grow two inches by tomorrow." Of course, the thief cuts his stick down and is thereby easily found out.
2013? Popular Stories from Panchatantra. Paperbound. Liluah Howrah, India: Young Reader Value Based Indian Writings: Future Publishers. 50 Rupies from Oxford Bookstore, Kolkata, Dec., '13.
Thirty-two stories get generally one partial-page black-and-white design each. The stories are standard Panchatantra offerings. The book is a solid inexpensive paperback. I found several in the series while I was in the Oxford Bookstore in Kolkata. This copy is marked down 10 rupies as an introductory offer. There is a T of C for the numbered stories at the beginning. Almost all are familiar stories, even when told with some variations. New to me is the story of an argument between a thief and a ghost who are both out to victimize the same person. They awaken that person and he escapes (56) Also new to me are "The Giant & the Thief" (51), "The Clever Jackal" (94), "Beating for Gold" (105), "The Importance of Company" (110), "The Ailing Prince and the Wise Princess" (118), and "The Brahmin & the Elf" (141). The version of MSA here has a washerman as its protagonist, and a huge bundle of clothes is part of the fun of switching what is on the donkey (98).
2013? Selected Stories from Panchatantra. Paperbound. Liluah Howrah, India: Young Reader Value Based Indian Writings: Future Publishers. 50 Rupies from Oxford Bookstore, Kolkata, Dec., '13.
Thirty-two stories get generally one partial-page black-and-white design each. The stories are standard Panchatantra offerings. The book is a solid inexpensive paperback. I found several in the series while I was in the Oxford Bookstore in Kolkata. This copy is marked down 10 rupies as an introductory offer. There is a T of C for the numbered stories at the beginning. Almost all are famililar stories, even when told with some variations. New to me are "The Great Sacrifice" (39), "Golden Swans" (43), "The Friendship of the Owl and the Swan" (57), and "The Three Indolent Friends" (93). I am surprised to find GGE among these Panchatantra stories (54).
2014 Bruce's Fables: Fables of the American Southwest. Bruce Saunders. Illustrations by Thom Laz. Paperbound. San Bernadino, CA: Quartet Global Books. $6.99 from Amazon.com, April, '14.
Here is an engaging print-upon-demand book from a fascinating author. Bruce Saunders, the back cover reveals, is a retired sociologist with a BA from Reed and a doctorate in sociology from Berkeley. His stories are one step more concrete and personal than traditional Aesopic fables, but they have much of the same wisdom. I have read the first dozen or so. They represent a philosophy of enlightened coexistence. The Mexican Cowboy, who figures in almost all of these fables, feeds other creatures but they know, as Fable #14 tells us, that he will stop doing so if they attack another in his presence. That fable, "Two of Life's Big Rules," tells us that the two rules are "Learn and eat." Not bad! A good sample fable is #2, "Runaway Sheep." Coyote's howling ends up protecting the sheep from the mountain lion, who fears that there are several coyotes. Coyote, another favorite figure here, even offers to take the sheep to the Cowboy, who will feed and protect them. When the sheep praise the coyote, he tells them that if there had been only one sheep, he would have eaten him. Fable #3 has Coyote learning that prey he has captured will be eaten by buzzards while he seeks other prey. So he proclaims out loud that he will use buzzards as his prey, and they take the hint. I would enjoy reading even more of these stories.
2014 Der Hase und die Schildkröte: Die schönsten Fabeln von La Fontaine. Mit Pop-ups von Thierry Dedieu. Hardbound. Munich: Knesebeck GmBH & Co. €16.82 from Amazon.de, August, '14.
Here is the German version of a pop-up book I first found five yeas ago in Paris. As I wrote about it, there are here six exquisite pop-ups: TH, OR, "The Fox and the Goat," "The Heron," FS, and WL. Dedieu's special gift is to create depth by getting four or five layers into the pop-up picture. Among his best efforts is "The Fox and the Goat," which gives a goat's-eye-view of the fox appearing at the top of the well. In each case, the fable text is presented on the left and the right of the central pop-up picture. Exquisite work!
2014 Der Hirsch, der sich im Wasser spiegelt: Die schönsten Fabeln von La Fontaine. Mit Pop-Ups von Thierry Dedieu. Deutsche Erstausgabe. Hardbound. Munich: Knesebeck. €18 from Thalia, Mannheim, July, '14.
I have already come into contact with Dedieu's excellent work, and have just ordered several of his books in French and German. Here is the German translation of his book by Seuil in 2009: "Le Cerf se Voyant dans l'Eau et Autres Fables." The pop-ups are again exquisite. Dedieu's special gift is to create depth by getting four or five layers into the pop-up picture. Among his best efforts is the title pop-up, which plays with reflection and dimensionality. The background of DW suggests a net. That suggestion is perfect for this fable about confinement and freedom. Another great use of dimensionality occurs in "The Rabbits and the Frogs," as the frogs leaping into the water become the backdrop for our viewing of the rabbit. In each case, the fable text is presented on the left and the right of the central pop-up picture. Exquisite work! The book has a solid feel often lacking in pop-up books.
2014 Fables Choisies, Mises en Vers. John Quincy Adams, Jean de La Fontaine, John Adams Library (Boston Public Library). Paperbound. Charleston, SC/Paris: BlblioBazaar: BiblioLife/Jean-François Bastien. $26.09 from Amazon.com, Sept., '14.
This unlucky purchase represents some of what is wrong with "print on demand" publishing. I had noticed the book long ago on Amazon.com and had been curious what John Quincy Adams was doing as a writer or editor of fables, but I have been surprised more than once in my collecting of fable editions. At last I had to purchase the book to find my answer. The page added before the title-page of this reprint has this and only this: "Fables Choisies, Mises en Vers. John Quincy Adams, Jean de La Fontaine, John Adams Library (Boston Public Library)." It thus apparently turns out that this book is a copy of a standard, unillustrated, unspectacular French edition of Jean de La Fontaine's fables which happens to be in the John Adams Library in the Boston Public Library. Nowhere is there any explanation of how Adams' name is associated with this book. The original was published by Jean-François Bastien in Paris in 1779, a curious time in history and one in which the Adams family would have had an interest in what was going on in France. I suppose I have to put down 2014 as the publication date. This book was printed five days after I finally ordered it.
2014 Fables de La Fontaine: Une Anthologie proposée par Benoit Marchon. Illustrations de Martin Jarrie. Hardbound. Montrouge, France: Bayard Éditions. €11.60 from Gibert Joseph, August, '14.
Here are forty-three fables presented by an artist I have enjoyed twice elsewhere. The book's unusual shape (6½" x 10¾") is the first clue that it is going to present traditional material in a fresh way. Almost every presentation involves two pages and clever positioning of a few key images. GA (10-11) presents an ant with a sack of grain on his back marching across the page above a grasshopper moving upwards with a guitar on his back: character, load, and direction are all different. FC presents a cheese with its owner's name struck through and changed from "Corbeau" to "Renard" (12-13). WS shows a stork with a scissors for a head beside an x-ray of a wolf's digestive tract with the bone lodged down the throat (22-23). The spilt milk of MM is blotting out drawings of hens, pig, and cow (30-31). The surreal style fits the approach perfectly. Sometimes I have no idea why an object is presented the way Jarrie presents it; other times it is perfect. The bull in OF holds the frog by a tether as though the latter were a helium-filled balloon (32-33). Maybe best of all is "The Rat and the Elephant" (50-51). The elephant is segmented to make room for the text. Between the elephant's legs, mostly hidden from us, a cat reaches out a paw for the minuscule rat under the elephant's big belly. For sheer fun, try "The Lion Defeated by a Man" (78-79). The book has a place-holding ribbon, a short life of both La Fontaine and of Jarrie, and a helpful glossary of unusual language in the fables. This book fulfills its rear cover's promise of a fresh entry into a fabulous zoological park. Bravo, Jarrie!
2014 Funny Fables: Modern Interpretations of Famous Fabulists. Ed. Kuekes. Hardbound. Buffalo, NY/Foster & Stewart/ICG Testing. See 1938/2014.
2014 Jean de La Fontaine: Selected Fables. A new translation by Christopher Betts. With illustrations by Gustave Doré. First edition, first impression. Dust-jacket. Hardbound. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press. $20.93 from Amazon, June, '14.
Here is a pleasing new translation of about half of La Fontaine's fables, together with some twenty-three of Gustave Doré's translations. Betts' introduction is helpful, giving a sense of La Fontaine's popularity and success with a significant chain of patrons and patronesses. "Diversité, c'est ma devise," though apparently meant by La Fontaine to refer to his love life, characterizes well his poetry. Betts rightly emphasizes that a collection of fables like La Fontaine's -- by contrast with, say, the Pancatantra's connecting story -- needs diversity and surprise. Betts does well to warn readers not to expect to find La Fontaine's opinion through reading the fables. The one subject on which La Fontaine's fables may give a clear expression of the author's beliefs is poetry itself. Betts rightly sees the first fable, GA, as expressing well the service the artist performs in society. I notice a couple of surprising omissions: Norman Spector from the prominent translators and J.J. Grandville from the most important artists. The few rhyming fables I have read here impress me. A good example of a successful translation is, I believe, GA itself. I would say of it what Betts says of La Fontaine: not a word is wasted. The notes are helpful, and there is an AI at the back of the book. I would be tempted to use this for the study of La Fontaine in my next fable course. Might Oxford add a paperback version?
2014 Les Fables de La Fontaine. Illustrées par Gustave Doré. Paperbound. Fahrenheit 450: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. $22.50 from Amazon.com, Nov., '14.
Here is an inexpensive paperback version with good printings of Doré's illustrations, all 585 of them, as the title-page reminds us: 89 full-page compositions, 248 large designs preceding fables, and 248 vignettes after the fables. I am surprised to see this quality and size (8½" x 11") of a book printed upon demand. TMCM is featured on the front cover.
2014 Marie de France: A Critical Companion. Sharon Kinoshita and Peggy McCracken. Paperbound. Cambridge, England: Gallica #24: D.S. Brewer. $33.20 from Amazon.com, Sept., '14.
Here is a paperback version of a hardbound book first published in 2012. For a print-on-demand book, it is exceedingly well done. It represents, I believe, a huge help to a fable student like me. In each of several chapters, the fables of Marie get careful consideration in the light of modern literary and historical scholarship. I am excited to use this fine resource on my next trip through Marie. The introduction to Marie's place in fable history (35) is particularly strong.
2014 My First Big Book of Aesop's Fables. George Fyler Townsend. Paperbound. Lexington, KY: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform. $6.77 from Amazon, June, '14.
Print-upon-demand has reached a new level with this book. Not only does it not list Townsend as the author on the cover, but it does not even list a publisher! And it is not exactly print-upon-demand, because it was printed three days before I bought it on Amazon. Amazon tells me on their website that the publisher is "CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform" or something like that. I am surprised to see Townsend resurface. About three or four fables to a page, with a T of C at the beginning. No illustrations inside the book. The illustration of "The Ant and the Dove" on the cover is nicely done, with an expressive face on the hunter shooting his gun while the ant bites his leg. Rabbits, frogs, and a diminutive stag look on. I am unsure what makes this book either first or big.
2014 Otherwise Fables. Oscar Mandel. Paperbound. Pasadena, CA: Prospect Park Books. $12.61from Amazon.com, May, '14.
This is an enlargement, perhaps with emendations, of "Gobble-Up Stories," a copy of which is in the collection, written in 1966. That collection of thirty-three fables has grown here to forty-six, and the collection of fables forms the first of three parts of this present book covering the first eighty-five pages. Oscar Mandel is a Belgian-born American writer in French and English. His foreword here shows a healthy respect for fable and La Fontaine -- and for his own particular contribution to the genre. The great news about thiis book -- and the 1966 shorter edition -- is that these stories really are fables. They are brief, witty, and apt. Mandel may allow himself a bit of a comment a la La Fontaine, but it will be an insightful comment. As Mandel himself points out in the foreword, several of the stories here are based on traditional fables, but Mandel takes the story in his own direction. I have read the first ten and thoroughly enjoyed them. I will be happy to read more, and I would not say that of every book in this collection! In Mandel's reworking of the Chanticleer story, "The Cock Who Made the Sun Rise" (12), Chanticleer misses a day but explains -- "logically" of course -- that he probably did such a good job the day before that it counted for two days. The fisherman catches a minnow (13) and is about to throw it back when the minnow objects that it is not being taken seriously. Of course, the convinced fisherman takes the minnow along for his supper. MSA on 19 again takes the story into a new direction -- and a delightful one. The fox eats the cheese and declares it a vile Gorgondola that would have hurt the crow's great voice. So both go away happy! There is a T of C on 6-7, which includes "La Fontaine's Apology" (34). Who could pass that up?
2014 Wolf Fables. Pie Corbett. Illustrated by Ester Garcia Cortes, Inge-Marie Jensen, and Scott Plumbe. Paperbound. Oxford: Tree Tops, Level 10: Oxford University Press. See 2010/14.
2014 40 Fables d'Esope en BD. Scénario et Dessins: Marc Thil. Paperbound. Stella Junior. $5.25 from Amazon.com, Oct., '14.
Here, as promised, are forty one-page black-and-white cartoon presentations of Aesopic fables in five, six, or seven panels each. This little book acknowledges as its source Chambry's Greek and French translation. There is a T of C at the beginning and an AI at the end. The fables are numbered. Thil handles the fables well for the space limitations of his medium. GA advertises plural ants and advises foresight (13). "The Tortoise and the Eagle" is handled well: the eagle's pique is nicely motivated and quickly expressed (14). TH is cleverly motivated when the hare says "C'est moi le plus rapide!" and the tortoise asks in response "Et si c'était moi?" (15). Thil as artist does a good job, e.g., with the fat chicken on 18. As text-writer, he has a gift for pithy morals, as in the story of the ass who goes through several masters: "Les nouveaux ma?tres font souvent regretter les anciens!" (24). Google has not yet heard of Stella Junior. Print on demand is growing. Here is a French book produced in the USA the day it was ordered.
2014? The Classic Treasury of Aesop's Fables. Illustrated by Don Daily. Paperbound. Miami, FL: MiniatureCrafty. $2.99 from Linda Zechel at MiniatureCrafty through eBay, Dec., '14.
This miniature dollhouse book is one-twelfth of the original's size and is thus about 7/8" x 1". It uses the cover of Don Daily's "The Classic Treasury of Aesop's Fables" but, as the eBay advertisement says, what is inside is rather "some generic child-related printed interior pages." The back cover, however, reproduces Daily's. The typeface on the cover is just small enough that, even with the help of a magnifying glass, I had to hunt up the original not by Daily's name but by the picture on the cover. The first page looks like a T of C but is not the T of C from Daily's book. Aesop spreads out into more and more places!