2015 to 2019

2015

2015 A Comparison of the Fables Contained in La Fontaine, Marie De France, and the Collections known as Isopet I, Isopet II, Isopet de Lyon.  Margaret Rara Benn.  Paperbound.  BiblioScholar Dissertations: CPSIA.  $49 from Amazon, May, '15. 

This is a Master's Thesis submitted to the Department of Romance Languages and Literature of the University of Kansas in 1908.  It may contain some good criticism of the five collections it compares.  I have not read through the criticism and so I cannot say.  I can say three things.  First, this thesis is poorly presented, to say the least.  I would not have believed that a reputable institution would accept a work so filled with errors and crossouts.  The thesis is unpaginated and presented in single-space.  I would not accept such work from a normal undergraduate, much less a candidate for an MA degree.  Secondly, the work is poorly done by its contemporary republishers.  Many pages are faint.  Those frustrated with the copying of the dissertation into the present paperback will only be exasperated when the last page -- or last pages? -- is missing.  The last page of this work as it presents itself is a repeat of the page before.  Apparently no one bothered to check this work of less than 100 pages, even though it cost $49.  Thirdly, other fable scholars might have hoped for some charts indicating which works are found in which collections.  I find no such helps here.  I have been frustrated with print-on-demand books for some years.  I took another try on this one.  Imagine whether I will try again soon!

2015 Aesop's Fables.  V.S. Vernon Jones (NA).  Illustrations by Milo Winter.  Introduction by G. K. Chesterton.  First printing.  Hardbound.  NY: Knickerbocker Classics Series:  Race Point: Quarto Publishing.  $14.99 from Powell's, Portland, July, '15. 

This small hardbound book is a curious melange.  The introduction by Chesterton, taken without attribution from the 1912 edition featuring the art of Arthur Rackham, drops Chesterton's first paragraph.  The translations are from that same edition but here without recognition: they are from V.S. Vernon Jones.  The color of the illustrations from Winter, advertised on the cover, are surprisingly washed out.  This is the sort of book that comes from the expiration of copyrights seventy-five years after publication of the work.  The best thing about this book is its red cloth cover with gold lettering and a good illustration of the TMCM mice fleeing from the city dinner.  There is a list of illustrations at the front of the book and an AI at the back. 

2015 Aesop's Fables. George Fyler Townsend. Paperbound. Middletown, DE: (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform). $8.09 from Amazon, August, '15.

Here is another print-on-demand book in the form of a sturdy mid-sized paperback of 188 pages. This seems a good rendition of Townsend's texts, preceded by an interminable T of C and followed by a life of Aesop, a preface (!), footnotes, and a long AI. Everything is in uniform format, as boring and machinelike as can be. The cover shows trees, clouds, and some grass. Aesop would not approve, I think!

2015 Aesop's Fables: Vol. I: A First Reader.  Mara L(ouise) Pratt(-Chadwick).  Paperbound.  Young Folk's Library of Choice Literature:  Educational Publishing Company.  $20.75 from Amazon, August, '15.

Here is a paperback book that helps me to carry on my campaign against "publish upon demand" books.  This book is, in some form, a reprint of Mara Pratt's 1892 first volume.  The botched job by the reprinter makes it hard to know just what that form is or which printing of Pratt's work is involved.  Let me list my frustrations as I have tried to catalogue this book.  First, the cover -- and of course the title under which it was advertised and sold -- is not the title on the title-page.  Let me quote verbatim the title on the cover: "Aesop'S Fables: A First Reader - Primary Source Edition."  Who would recognize that as Pratt's book?  Secondly, who is the author?  The xeroxed page inside this book identifies her, as do -- so I believe -- all the published editions of her work, "Mara L. Pratt."  The publisher, in his wisdom, has made her into Mara Louise Pratt-Chadwick.  While it is helpful to have the information of her changed name, the present publisher is not making things easier for those of us who would like to be careful about names.  My biggest frustration comes as I open the book.  I have regularly used the images for FG, an early fable in the 1892 version, as a test case for various printings and editions.  Typically, there is an image I watch on 10 of these editions.  What is on 10 here?  It can be hard to answer this question because 5-7 recount "The Fox and the Lion."  8-9 are misplaced from the beginning of the volume; they show Harvard's library identifier and the inscription of the original giver of the book.  Shall we look to 10 to complete the story of the fox and lion?  What appears is the apparent ending to FG, but without the usual FG image!  I give up!  When instant publishers become more serious about reproducing their books, I will become more serious about cataloguing them!

2015 Best-Loved Aesop's Fables Coloring book.  Maggie Swanson.  Paperbound.  Mineola, NY: Dover Coloring Book:  Dover Publications.  $4.99 from Amazon, Feb., ‘18.

This large-format paperback book offers twenty-two two-page spreads offering texts and black-and-white illustrations to be colored by a young reader.  The illustrations are highly simple.  TMCM is told at too great length!  The colored endpapers are good renditions of "The Young Mouse, the Rooster, and the Cat" and LM.  My hat is off to Dover for continuing to publish fable books for young readers!

2015 Das Hausbuch der schönsten Fabeln und Weisheitsgeschichten.  Inga Hagemann.  Illustrated by Lena Hesse.  Hardbound.  Muenster:  Coppenrath.  €24.95 from Germany, August, '17.

Over 200 texts, pillowed covers with a colorful illustration of FC on the front, and a bookmark set this off as a book for families to enjoy with their children.  I learned here that in Hans Sachs' version of GA the grasshopper claims to have been useful in the summer by singing people to sleep.  The ant answers that the grasshopper should go ask for food from the people she has sung into sleep!  The curious moral is "Who does not collect in youth must go without in old age" (17).  Other texts that are new to me include "The Frogs' Competition" (13); "Die Rangierlokomotive und der Prellbock" (50); and "Diplomatic Advice" (68).  Fables are sometimes brought together to utilize their images together, as happens on 26-27 where a fable about a fox on the left is balanced by a fable about a fox and geese on the right.  The fox image on the left serves for both fables and balances nicely the image of geese on the right.  Images occur every few pages.  Good ones near the beginning of the book include FS (28) and "The Monkey and Spectacles" (49).  Most featured authors are Aesop, Leonardo, La Fontaine, and Lessing.  There is a truly international spread of stories.  Kipling sets a record for his story that goes from 108 to 113 on rather full pages: "The Elephant's Child."  This is the sort of book I would love to work through over a number of days!

2015 Die Schönsten Fabeln.  Ausgewählt von Matthias Reiner.  Illustriert von Reinhard Michl.  Inscribed by Reinhard Michl.  Hardbound.  Berlin: Insel-Bücherei: Insel Verlag.  €31.25 from Bührnheims Literatursalon & Antiquariat, Leipzig, May, '15.

This impressive book presents over fifty fables.  About half are from Aesop.  The other half favors Thurber and German authors.  The covers present a scene that is distinctly contemporary.  A crow bartender shakes a martini shaker.  Mice, a toad, and an unidentified animal sit at the bar.  A chipmunk or squirrel bartender rounds out the scene.  The colored illustrations accompanying most fables are strong.  Perhaps one of the best is "Die Hasen und die Frösche" (24).  GA (40) is also well done, as is TMCM (43-44).  The art for texts on one page regularly spill over onto the space of the facing page, as on 54-55.  The illustration for Kafka's "Kleine Fabel" on 64-65 is another excellent piece!  It turns out that the cover picture is for Thurber's "The Truth about Toads" (72-76).  Reiner Kunze's "Das Ende der Fabeln" (84) is the perfect way to end this lovely book.  The cock starts twice to create a fable but realizes that the fable will offend either the fox or the farmer.  He starts a third time, but….  He looks left, he looks right.  Now there is not another fable!

2015 Fable Comics.  Edited by Chris Duffy.  Various cartoonists.  First edition, first printing.  Dust-jacket.  Hardbound.  New York: First Second Books.  $14.92 from Amazon, August, '15. 

Here are twenty-eight fables rendered by contemporary cartoonists.  They range in size from one page to six.  The first offering, FG, by James Kochalka, includes a good deal of appropriate chatter from the fox and a jet-pack that has the fox flying far beyond the grapes.  It is lively and sets the lively tone for this book.  The various cartoonists take creative approaches to their fables, like Charise Harper's approach to BM (16-19).  She invents wonderful complaints from the various members!  Itsy the mouse treats the lion's belly as a trampoline (20)!  Does it help the story to have the wolf go sailing over the cliff above the lying shepherd boy (38)?  Simone Lia in CP builds up the crow as an answer-person able to answer hard questions (40-44).  Hermes responds to the overly clever second axe-wielder, who has thrown his axe into the pond and claims the golden one Hermes brings to him: "You can't lie to me!  I'm the god of liars, you dork!" (47).  Graham Chaffee surrounds the story of DS with cleverly introduced modern urgings to get more.  As the boneless dog passes a phone booth, he hears "I'm tellin' ya, Sal -- ya can't lose…." (52),  Dead frogs with haloes trailing Hermes to the afterlife announce the moral for FK (63).  Is it true that I am noticing for the first time Krylov's "The Elephant in Favor" (71)?  It dramatizes effectively the importance of listening!  An eagle captures the tortoise and happens to drop him at the race's finish-line (97-102)!  GA is told in Disney fashion but adds dashed dreams of stardom by the musical grasshopper (103-108).  George O'Connor draws four fables; all other cartoonists here do just one.  A very small line at the bottom of the first page of each fable gives a generic source for the story.  Krylov, Bidpai, and Ambrose Bierce get into the fun, as do some folktales identified by their country of origin.  This is my kind of book!

2015 Fables in An Old Style/Fábulas En Un Estilo Antiguo: Book One.  Sylvia Ross; Spanish translation by Rosalinda Villareal Teller.  Paperbound.  Lexington, KY: Comparative Literature for Children:  Bentley Avenue Books.  $10 from Amazon.com, Nov., '15.

There are four fairytale stories here, each twenty to thirty pages in length, and each presented in English with a Spanish translation on the facing page: "The Apothecary's Garden"; The Wizard"; Doña Stephana and the Dragon"; and "Trees of Gold and Silver."  There are plenty of black-and-white full-page illustrations suitable for coloring.  The back cover describes the stories as "simple parables told with careful attention to traditional and modern values."  In her personal statement at the end of the book, Ross remembers the stories told by the nuns at St. Augustine's School in Los Angeles after lunch every day.  World War II brought its own dark threats to Los Angeles, but what the nuns read were "stories that told of peaceful lands and gentle people."  This book and its companion second volume were printed upon demand.

2015 Fables in An Old Style/Fábulas En Un Estilo Antiguo: Book Two.  Sylvia Ross; Spanish translation by Rosalinda Villareal Teller.  Paperbound.  Lexington, KY: Comparative Literature for Children:  Bentley Avenue Books.  $10 from Amazon.com, Nov., '15.

This book and its companion first volume were printed upon demand.  There are three stories here, each about forty pages in length, and each presented in English with a Spanish translation on the facing page: "The Stepmother"; The Woodswoman's Jewels"; and "A Story of Small Magic."  There are again plenty of black-and-white full-page illustrations suitable for coloring.  The back cover again describes the stories as "simple parables told with careful attention to traditional and modern values."  In her afterword for this book, Ross notes that these three stories come not from the fables she heard as a child.  "They arose from true incidents observed during the years I taught in a small, rural city."  "The conversion of harsh truths into fables is a time-honored tradition. These kinds of stories, even when they have sad or bittersweet endings, give consolation to children whose lives are troubled.  The same stories cannot help but broaden the empathy of children traveling through easier lives."

2015 Fábulas. Illustrated by Sofía García Aubert. Hardbound. Madrid: Editorial Libsa. $11.11 from The Book Depository, London, August, '15.

This is a tall (almost 8" x 11½") hardbound book with soft covers. It offers thirty-one fables, each with its own two-page spread, by a variety of authors. The only surprise among the authors is Jean-François Guichard, who presents "El sapo y la luciérnaga" (38). Apparently the toad eats the glow-worm because the glow-worm does something that the toad cannot do, namely "brillar," shine. It seems that Hartzenbusch also told this fable, and that may be the source of its inclusion here. I think Harzenbusch's "Monkey, Ass, and Mole" is new to me (24-25). Monkey complains of not having a tail, ass of not having horns, and mole of being blind. Typical of the book's big, strong art is "Los toros y las ranas" (30-31). I am happy to see a less frequent fable like SS show up in this group (52-53). Did I know before Iriarte's provocative fable of "The Elephant and the Other Animals" (56-57)? The elephant offers comments on how to live a good life and criticizes harmful faults. The predators start to criticize and leave. Apparently Iriarte's point is that he is not writing about particular men but about human faults. I think the closing sentiment is "If you believe it touches you, it is you -- not me -- that criticize you."

2015 Fabulously Funny Fables.  Kathryn Gabrielle.  Paperbound.  Milton Keynes, UK:  Privately published.  $10 from an unknown source, Jan., '16.

This is an unpaginated print-upon-demand paperback of fifteen short stories and poems.  The cover is a pixelated picture of what seems to be a woman plucking flowers.  To get the flavor of this paperback book, try "(#3) A Can of Hairspray" and "(#8) A Tale of Envy and Compassion."  The latter is a  strong and simple piece that argues powerfully for values different from those ruling society.  Typos like "occurred" and bad spacing get in the way.  That this is a British rather than American account comes clear with the word "electric."

2015 Garbage Pail Kids Magazine: Fables, Fantasy, and Farts: Fantasy Felicia: April, 2015.  Paperbound.  San Diego: IDW Publishing.  $4.99 from Jason Campbell, Salem, NJ, through eBay, May, '15.

Wow!  This magazine sets a new low standard for this collection.  The humor sometimes combines clever wordplays, but the standby is toilet humor with occasional violence that borders on the obscene.  I cannot find anything to do with fables.  There is frequent talk of quests.  I am afraid I would call this kind of literature mindless.  I include it here to stop the next fable enthusiast from bothering with it.

2015 Jean de La Fontaine: 25 Fables: Bilingual illustrated edition.  A new translation by Christopher Carsten.  Engravings by Sophie de Garam.  Preface by Sir Michael Edwards.  Signed by the translator.  Paperbound.  Paris: Librairie Editions Tituli.  $23.25 from Grolier Poetry Bookshop, Boston, July, '16.

Here is a fresh set of translations done quite consciously not only into American English but into contemporary idiom.  I have sampled the first six translations and found them lively and well chiseled.  "Sponge Donkey, Salt Donkey" gets moralized "Different strokes for different folks," and the proverb fits perfectly.  "The Man Between Two Ages and Two Mistresses" closes with these four lines: "Whichever one I pick, would in her fashion Have me live, and not in mine.  OK, I'm bald, but bald and celibate is fine.  I’m much obliged, my beauties, for the lesson."  Well done!  The black-and-white illustrations are less enlightening for me.

2015 La cigale et la fourmi.  Francois.  Paperbound.  Middletown, DE: (CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform).  $9 from Amazon, Sept., '15. 

This is a remarkable book.  It looks like we have reached the limit of on demand publication.  What is lacking in this book?  Indication of the author, publisher, and date.  What we have is a place, a fable of La Fontaine poorly formatted, and then some 102 unpaginated pages of creative development of La Fontaine's fable, I take it in a highly political and satirical vein.  The back cover gives this introduction, which Amazon repeats as its only real description of the book:  "Sous l'impulsion de la colonie des droits de l'insecte, l'union des vingt-sept fourmilières de la grande clairière s'organise pour sauver les cigales qui risquent leur vie tous les jours pour venir apporter leur gaieté de vivre aux fourmis travailleuses en l'échange d'une vie plus agréable qu'au sud du grand étang. Motivées par un groupe de jeune fourmis socialisantes, les travailleuses risquent leur vie pour la réussite de cette vaste opération de sauvetage. Malgré des centaines de pertes parmi les rangs des ouvrières, les braves travailleuses continueront le chantier pour le bonheur de participer au rayonnement de leur grandiose civilisation des lumières. Elles ont la joie de mourir pour une grande cause sous les regards incrédules de l'égoïste fourmilière de l'est de la grande clairière. Ces fourmis rouges, qui loin de vouloir participer, se mettent à construire des murs infranchissables aux fourmis et idées tolérantes de l'union des vingt-sept fourmilières. Et tout cela au mépris de la morale de monsieur de La Fontaine."  Ants, unite!  Unhappy cicadas, look forward to a better future for all animals!  I need to leave further exploration of this offshoot of La Fontaine to others better equipped to pick up the social criticism.

2015 Le petit Théâtre de La Fontaine: 8 Fables a Jouer Masqués.  Agnes de Lestrade and Gloria Pizzilli.  Tirage No. 1.  Paperbound.  Paris: Seuil Jeunesse: Éditions du Seuil.  $23.91 from Stars and Stripes Bookstore through Amazon.com, May, '16.

As the back of this assemblage well proclaims, we find here first a book to read; secondly, twenty scripts of parts to play; and thirdly eight masks to wear in those roles.  All three -- but particularly the first and third -- are well done.  The book is part of the sturdy portfolio that also includes an envelope for the other two materials.  At its heart, the book has a page for each of the eight La Fontaine texts and a dramatic illustration page facing that.  Then there are some tips on typical dimensions of theater.  My prizes here go to "The Sick Lion," FC, and WL.  The second offering is twenty single pages, each presenting the script of a fable for a particular character in that fable.  Thus, there is a page, front and back, for the hare in TH, with the hare's lines in bold print.  One could easily hand out these pages in, say, a class presentation of a fable.  Then thirdly there are the masks!  Colorful, dramatic, well conceived, and well constructed.  My prizes go to the fox, wolf, lion, and hare.  This is a wonderful use of La Fontaine's fables!  I will keep the whole set with the books.

2015 Les Fables de la Fontaine.  Illustrées par Thomas Tessier.  Hardbound.  (Paris): rue des enfants.  €32.59 from Nathalie Roy, Voiron, France, Dec., '16.

Here is a later and smaller edition of the 2013 "Mes plus belles Fables de La Fontaine" by the same publisher and above all by the same artist.  Here one finds 15 of the 25 fables presented there.  I continue to enjoy Tessier's highly imaginative presentations of La Fontaine's fables.  Each fable gets two pages, with text on the left-hand page and a clever illustration on the right-hand page.  Fable after fable, his imagination finds lively approaches to the story.  The ant in GA is pushing a full shopping card around the outside of a grasshopper concert!  Both the fox and the crow wear old-time French wigs as they argue their "case" in and below a tree.  We get to view the exploded parts of the frog in OF.  In MM, her future dreams are shadows in the puddle of spilled milk.  The wolf is gigantic as he towers over the lamb at the river.  WC is wonderfully dramatic, simple, and colorful.  The two mice are enjoying burgers, hot dogs, and fries as the cat comes upon them from a fire escape outside an open window.  FS becomes a theater drama acted on a stage.  This is stimulating, refreshing, creative work!  Other fables presented here include OR; "The Heron"; "The Farmer and His Sons"; LM; "The Little Fish and the Angler"; and "The Fox and the Goat."  T of C at the end.  There is a CD attached inside the front cover.  The cover illustration focuses in on WC.

2015 Les Fables de La Fontaine Illustrées par les Plus Grand Artistes.  Paperbound.  Paris: Circonflexe.  $12 from N. Roy, Voiron, France, through eBay, May, '16.

This large-format (9' x 11½") paperback presents a lovely variety of illustrators of La Fontaine's fables in vivid color.  There is no introduction or commentary.  There is a last page of short biographical comments on the sixteen artists.  Otherwise there are only pictures and texts.  Three are new to me: Thomas Tessier, Emmanuel Fornage, and Hermann Vogel.  I have already ordered the works of two of them because of this book!  Others represented include: Boutet de Monvel; Pieter Breughel; François Chauveau; Guastave Doré; Jean-Honoré Fragonard; André Hellé; Félix Lorioux; Franz Marc; Gustave Moreau; Jean-Baptiste Oudry; Benjamin Rabier; Auguste Vimar; and the 1894 Artistes de Tokyo gathered by Barboutau.  What a lovely book!  By the way, the editors may be cheating a little to use Breughel's "The Harvest" to illustrate "The Laborer and His Sons."  Was Oudry originally meant to be shown in color?

2015 Mousetropolis.  R. Gregory Christie.  First edition, first printing.  Dust-jacket.  Hardbound.  NY: Holiday House.  $13.71 from Amazon, Feb., '18.

This lively version focuses on the desire for an exchange, an experience of the other, and a quick return to one's own home.  The City Mouse in downtown Mousetropolis wakes up to too much noise and needs a vacation.  He responds immediately to an invitation from Country Mouse but sticks up his nose at his first country meal.  When he asks what Country Mouse does for fun, he finds himself on the way to a jamboree.  "Not bad," City Mouse says of the dancing.  But going home he senses danger, and he is right.  An owl watches them all the way.  The night is too hot and too quiet.  They both have the same idea and soon run for the train and land on top of a box car.  The station in Mousetropolis is full of music, dancing, and food  --  candy and cheese, of course!  But just as an owl had appeared in the country, a cat appears in the station and scatters the mice.  Country Mouse is quickly back home and says simply "Home."  The back endpaper shows the City Mouse saying the same thing.  Lively gouache illustrations.  Maybe the "Swoosh" picture on top of the boxcar is the most unusual.  The dancing figures on the front cover are also very well done.

2015 Mousetropolis.  R. Gregory Christie.  Fourth printing.  Paperbound.  NY: Holiday House.  $6.99 from Amazon, Feb., '18. 

This lively version focuses on the desire for an exchange, an experience of the other, and a quick return to one's own home.  The City Mouse in downtown Mousetropolis wakes up to too much noise and needs a vacation.  He responds immediately to an invitation from Country Mouse but sticks up his nose at his first country meal.  When he asks what Country Mouse does for fun, he finds himself on the way to a jamboree.  "Not bad," City Mouse says of the dancing.  But going home he senses danger, and he is right.  An owl watches them all the way.  The night is too hot and too quiet.  They both have the same idea and soon run for the train and land on top of a box car.  The station in Mousetropolis is full of music, dancing, and food  --  candy and cheese, of course!  But just as an owl had appeared in the country, a cat appears in the station and scatters the mice.  Country Mouse is quickly back home and says simply "Home."  The final pages show the City Mouse saying the same thing.  Lively gouache illustrations.  Maybe the "Swoosh" picture on top of the boxcar is the most unusual.  The dancing figures on the front cover are also very well done.

2015 Reynard the Fox.  Translated by James Simpson.  Illustrations by Edith E. Newman.  Foreword by Stephen Greenblatt.  First edition.  Hardbound.  Dust jacket.  NY:  Livewright Publishing Corporation: W.W. Norton.  $24.95 from Readers' Books, Sonoma, CA, July, '15.

First, it is very nice to see a book dedicated to an old friend, Jill Mann!  Secondly, it is great to encounter a Reynard book that offers an illustration of a number of the fables told in the book.  That page here is 177, and it includes "The Horse and the Wolf"; "The Horse and the Hart"; "The Man and the Snake"; "The Dog and the Ass"; and "The Wolf and the Crane."  Those are stories one could supposedly see in Reynard's magic mirror, as the text on 179-84 lays out.  Simpson helps the reader with good summaries of the sections and chapters.  Thus Part V reads "Reynard the Fox bamboozles and distracts the court with elaborate stories of nonexistent precious objects" (169).  Another helpful element is found just before the text itself begins: an "Animal Dramatis Personae" lists the major and minor players and describes the relation of each to Reynard.  The two major relations are "victim" and "friend."  Cuwaert the Hare for example has this beside his name: "eaten by Reynard."  I think a person could have a lot of fun with this book!

2015 The Frogs Who Begged for a Tsar: (and 61 other Russian fables).  Translated by Lydia Razran Stone.  Illustrated by Katya Korobkina.  Paperbound.  Middletown, DE: Russian Life Books.  $25 from Amazon, August, '15. 

This is an impressive book.  It is a Russian book published in the USA.  It is a contemporary book that recognizes what Krylov was doing in his moment of history.  It combines classic texts with present-day translations and present-day illustrations.  Well done!  The translator's introduction (9-13) is a good introduction to both Krylov and this edition.  The colored illustrations are lively and engaging.  It is so good to see Krylov presented as contemporary and fun!  I give a prize to "The Man and His Shadow" for both text and illustration (20-21).  Enjoy the thrush to the squirrel: "Well, it's clear./You run like mad, but never get an inch from here" (23).  I never thought that I would see "The Swan, the Pike and the Crab" illustrated as a human fable (24-25)!  The control of English verse may be at its best in "The Titmouse" (41).  "Two Dogs" (47) is excellent.  Fifi's great talent is that she can walk on two paws!  "The Cuckoo and the Rooster" (53) is right on target: This is Krylov's kind of satire.  The Russian and English are presented throughout on facing pages.  "The Wolf and the Cat" presents a fine count-down of possibilities for the wolf who has outraged everyone (51).  Typical of Krylov's wit is "The Mosquito and the Shepherd" (71).  To warn the shepherd of the approaching serpent, the mosquito bit the shepherd.  That awakened the shepherd, but before he killed the wolf, he smashed the mosquito.  "You must exert the greatest care/In warning big shots to beware."  LM takes a curious turn here.  The lion comes to rue the day that he disregarded the mouse (79).  "The Cat and the Nightingale" (91) is another tour de force.  What nightingale can sing well when about to be devoured?  The only fables that seem to violate the rule of "two pages" are the title-fable, FK (98-101), and "Friendship Among Dogs" (114-17).  The last two pages present a bilingual catalogue of "winged phrases," common aphorisms in Russian.  For many reasons, this will be from now on my go-to Krylov fable book!

2015 The Grasshopper and the Ant.  Jerry Pinkney.  First printing.  Hardbound.  Dust-jacket.  NY: Little, Brown, and Company.  $18 from Black Oak Books, Berkeley, June, '15.

Here is another strong and well considered Jerry Pinkney book.  The artist's statement at the end of the book is helpful.  Pinkney's wawtercolors stress the colors of the seasons as nature changes from summer to fall and then to winter.  He also stresses the musical quality of the story.  His special gift here is in painting faces and particularly eyes.  Do not miss the cover illustration, which is not the same as the dust-jacket illustration.  Pinkney's form of the story has the Queen Ant offering the freezing grasshopper a cup of tea.  He sees the ants learning to share and the grasshopper learning to work.  This grasshopper makes snow angels, snowmen, and snow hoppers!  He is a one-man band, complete with guitar, drum, cymbals, and accordion.  The key to his depiction here is that he is alone.  Near the end is a surprising "fold-up" page to add height to a two-page spread.  The grasshopper is above ground while the ants are below ground.  Pinkney directs readers to the endpapers to see how the grasshopper has learned to work, but I have trouble finding the evidence for his learning, beautiful as the endpapers are.

2015 The McFables: Selected Aesop's Fables in Scots.  Glenn Muir.  Paperbound.  McStorytellers.  $10 from an unknown source, August, '16.

Here is a published-upon-demand book worth publishing!  The rhyming Scots verse is fun!  I enjoyed reading the first five or six out loud, murdering no doubt the Scots pronunciation.  Nice finds along the way included, in AL, "But the Lion jist held oot his paw Whilst lookin helluva miserable."  The last line of BC is "This question brocht forth the soond o silence."  The final two lines of FG are ""Och weel" quo he "I shouldnae gripe.  Nae doot they're soor, they'll no be ripe."  It is fun to see people having fun with the fables!  T of C at the beginning.

2015 The Monkey and the Crocodile and Other Fables from the Jataka Tales of India.  Retold by Ellen C. Babbitt.  Illustrations by Ellsworth Young.  Paperbound.  Mineola, NY:  Dover Publications.  $9.01 from Ebooksweb through eBay, June, '18.

Here is a new edition by Dover that puts together two books published in 1912 and 1922, respectively, by Century.  (Dover gives the date for the first as 1918.)  This is a typically clean, well produced Dover book.  I will repeat comments I made on the two.  The first contains eighteen fables.  These stories are clearly written for children.  Some of the stories have more potential than is realized in these somewhat simplified and moralized tellings.  "How the Turtle Saved His Own Life" (10) may be the best of a lot that is largely new to me.  The glory of this book lies in the deft silhouette-like illustrations, one or two for each story.  Outstanding examples of these are on 22, 47, 76, and 86.  The second contains twenty-one fables, with a T of C before them. Again, I am taken first with the exquisite silhouettes. Notice the detail in the red-bud tree on 134, for example. Most of the stories are new to me. The fishes in The Three Fishes (108) are 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 Golden Goose (121) presents a goose whose golden feathers turn white if they are plucked out against his wish. Furthermore, the new feathers that come in are not golden either. I like The Cunning Wolf (127). In it the wolf reveals a man playing dead by tugging at his weapon. The Woodpecker and the Lion (136) seems like a replay of WC.

2015 The Oracle's Fables: Life Lessons for Children Inspired by Warren Buffett.  John Prescott.  Illustrations by Tom Kerr.  Hardbound.  Dallas: Taylor Specialty Books.  Gift, Sept., '15. 

"Life Lessons for children based on quotes from the Oracle of Omaha, Warren Buffett."  Fourteen fables get each a two-page spread, with an illustration on one page and a text on the other.  The first fable is a good exemplar: "The Mice, The Beaver and Old Man Winter."  The mice refuse the beaver's offer of a dam and trust to winter's ice.  The latter gives them a good bridge in winter but sweeps them away in spring.  A second fable, "The Frog and The Snake," has a frog seeking better territory but then returning home only to find a snake has inhabited his den.  "Never risk what you have and need for what you don't have and don't need" (4).  Good advice!  In a fable similar to TMCM, a young raccoon setting out meets an old raccoon, whose life in the city was good but destructive for him.  The young raccoon thanks him and goes into the forest rather than the city.  The story of an overeager badger concludes with this lovely moral: "The most important thing t o do if you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging" (8).  A bear learns from a fellow bear mauled by bees to seek berries instead.  The author cleverly puts Buffett's good advice into the story of a small sea turtle ready to break out of his shell and make a dash for the sea: "Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful" (12).  A stray puppy becomes a trusted pet over years and then bites the farmer's hand.  "It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.  If you thin about that you'll do things differently" (15).  A later gem is this: "Forecasts may tell you a great deal about the forecaster; they tell you nothing about the future" (16).  "The Three Fish" (20) is vintage Aesop: "Middle-sized fish urges big fish to stop eating the little fish, which he himself wants to eat, and to go after middle sized fish.  So big fish immediately eats middle fish.  The final fable, "The Greedy Queen Bee," finishes with this moral: "If you're in the luckiest one percent of humanity, you owe it to the rest of humanity to think about the other 99 percent" (29).  The art is, I would say, adequate.  This book is more engaging than I thought it would be.

2015 The Tortoise and the Hare: An Aesop Fable Retold and Illustrated by Bernadette Watts.  First printing.  Hardbound.  Dust jacket.  NY: North-South Books.  $14.22 from Amazon.com, Feb., '17.

This is my sixth book by Watts dating back to 1992.  It was first published and copyrighted in 2015 by Nord-Süd Verlag AG, Gossau Zürich under the title "Der Hase und die Schildkröte."  This lovely oversized edition starts and ends in unusual ways.  The tortoise takes the initiative at a friendly picnic of the animals.  The hare dawdles while eating along the way.  One of the best moments in the illustrations has him gorging on lettuce and smiling.  Watts is again very good at filling in the illustrations with various little animals, plants, and other objects scattered around the scene.  In this version the passing tortoise hears the hare snoring!  Unusual at the end is that the hare is the first to congratulate the tortoise.  They leave happily together.  "It was my own fault."

2015 Von eitlen Raben und schlauen Füchsen: Die schönsten Tierfabeln.  Nacherzählt von Sabine Tauber.  Illustrationen von Eleanor Sommer.  Hardbound.  Munich:  Prestel.  €9.95 from Hassbecker's Heidelberg, August, '17. 

This is one of many books lovingly set aside by the manager of Hassbecker's.  My last visit had been probably three years earlier, and she had been setting aside fable books ever since!  This one is a delight.  Its back cover speaks of the forty nicest animal fables from a variety of authors newly narrated for this edition, the texts complemented by charming illustrations with lively color arranged in the manner of collages.  New to me and worthy are several fables: "The Apes" by Gherardo de Rossi (8); "The Ass and the Jackdaw" by Lichtwer (38); "The Horse and the Fox," also by Rossi (52); and "The Worm and the Butterfly" by Herder (58).  The frontispiece, repeated on 31, of DLS offers a good example of Sommer's appealing collage-like art.  Particularly pleasing is her rendition of BF on 79.

2015 40 Fun Fables: Tales That Trick, Tickle, and Teach.  Retold by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss.  Illustrations by Baird Hoffmire.  Paperbound.  Atlanta, GA:  August House.  $8.95 from Amazon, August, '16.

Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss style themselves as "Beauty and the Beast Storytellers."  This book represents a good testimonial to the enduring attraction of fables.  Hamilton and Weiss approach the stories as engaging storytellers.  Their good renditions of the stories are complemented by helpful presentations on how these fables fulfill the requirements of Common Core State Standards.  A second appendix traces, perhaps in a slightly popular manner, the sources of these stories.  The forty fables are divided into groups: "Starter Stories"; "Next Step Stories"; "Challenging Stories"; and "Most Challenging Stories."  In several stories the authors offer good developments beyond the original fables.  For example, CJ (12) has a second phase: a boy passes by and finds the diamond a great gift for his mother.  Similarly, in the story of the two stubborn goats (14) the two not only knock each other off the bridge.  In the water they blame each other.  New to me is "The Oyster and the Heron" (54).  The cartoons are helpful, if somewhat predictable.  Be careful: the source investigation at the end is based on alphabetical order, not the order of presentation in this engaging book.

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2016

2016 A Novel Journal: Aesop's Fables.  Aesop.  Hardbound.  San Diego: Canterbury Classics:  Peter Norton: Printers Row Publishing Group.  $8.67 from Bargain Book Stores, Grand Rapids, MI, June, '16.

Here is a first!  This is indeed a journal for writing one's thoughts and experiences.  The tiny lines in the journal are Aesop's fables.  As an advertising slip proclaims, "The journal lines are the novel (in teeny, tiny text)!"  Teeny tiny is right!  To make reading even harder, the fables' titles are done in yellow against white.  Many will find them impossible to read.  The cover is graced by "Whatever you do, do with all of your might.  --Aesop."  There is one ribbon to mark one's place and another to keep the book closed.  Clever idea!

2016 Aesop's Fables on Stage: A Collection of Children's Plays.  Julie Meighan.  First edition.  Paperbound.  Cork, Ireland: JemBooks.  $7.99 from Amazon, Sept., '16.

Here is a paperback book printed a week before I ordered it.  After eleven "drama games" not related to fables, the book offers eighteen plays based on Aesopic fables.  In GA on 17, the grasshopper is listening to music on his iPod.  The grasshopper in winter goes to various animals who refuse to feed him.  The bears, for example, are angry that he wakes them up.  The ants give him food but make him promise that next year he will work hard in the summer.  The moral: "Fail to prepare?  Prepare to fail!"  In TH (20), after several animals quip that the tortoise could not beat the hare, the eagle suggests a race.  After a great first half of the race, the hare decides to take a nap.  In BW (24), one of the sheep makes the first suggestion that the boy shepherd pretend that there a wolf is attacking the sheep.  The next time, the sheep do not know that it is a trick. They challenge the boy afterwards: "You frightened us."  A reader needs to be pleased with the creativity that goes into this book.  It may be the only book I have seen in a while which takes a special page to say "The End" (70).

2016 Aesop's Fables: The Lion and the Mouse. Illustrated by Gavin Scott. Paperbound.  Essex, England: Miles Kelly.  $7.95 from World of Books, Feb., ‘18.

I find this a strong presentation of the familiar fable.  The little mouse is particularly curious,and thus he ventures into the lion's cave, where he is promptly caught.  Perhaps the best image of this oversized pamphlet shows the mouse with closed eyes enjoying the racing of the lion in the jungle while sitting in his mane.  “The weak really can help the strong" is added before "Little friends can be big friends."  More than 10 inches square.

2016 Big Book of Aesop's Fables.  Editorial Director: Rosie Neave.  Artists: Kate Daubney, Monika Filipina, Andy Rowland, and Barbara Vagnozzi.  First printing.  Hardbound.  Essex, UK: Miles Kelly.  Gift of Wendy Wright, Nov., '16.

This IS a big book of Aesop's fables!  It is 10½" square.  The pictures are large and dynamic.  I agree with the back cover: "perfect for reading aloud with your child."  Each artist develops one story.  It strikes me that these four -- TH, BW, GA, and TMCM -- are probably the four best known fables these days.  The tortoise goes to bed the night before the race in TH, while the hare parties late with the badgers.  Well into the race, the hare can look back and see how far behind the tortoise is.  Then he eats lettuce and decides to take a short nap.  "After all, he'd had a late night, and the tortoise was far behind" (19).  "The hare had lost his own challenge.  From now on perhaps he wouldn't be so boastful" (26).  On the second day of alarm in BW, little George breaks into a courtroom to cry "There really is a wolf this time!" (40).  The people who grumbled after the first alarm now become very cross.  Soon after they leave, George notices something moving in the trees.  In GA, the grasshopper does nothing in summer but sleep, eat, dance, and make music.  There is no indication that others enjoy his music or profit from it.  Thus he admits to the ant at the latter's door in winter "I didn't do any work at all!" (69).  In this version, the ant gives him as much food as he could spare: just enough to see the grasshopper through the winter.  These miserable months teach him a lesson.  The following summer he works hard to store enough food for himself.  He even finds time to help the ant!  "There is a time for work and time for play" (75).  In TMCM, the plain country food is bread and cheese and the bed is made of leaves.  The point of emphasis about the town house is that it is comfortable.  In town, they meet a cat in the kitchen and hide under a cup.  Dogs interrupt them as they feast in the dining room. Each traveling mouse wears a backpack.

2016 Hare and Tortoise.  Alison Murray.  Hardbound.  Dust jacket.  Somerville, MA:  Candlewick Press.  $15.29 from Strand Books, NY, August, '16.

First published in Great Britain in 2015 by Orchard Books. London.  This is a large-format -- almost 10" x 12" -- children's book.  It sets a young reader up well for things to come in the race when it describes hare in terms that will come to play later.  His ears are accustomed to the sound of animals cheering, and his paws are used to crossing the finish line in first place.  "And he has NEVER been known to resist a carrot."  Similarly, Tortoise will always do her best.  "I may be slow but I'll give it a go."  A map gives a sense of the race's phases, including a carrot patch.  A few nibbles lead to a tiny nap.  Hare dreams of animals cheering: there is the clue.  He wakes up to that cheering and tries to catch up but loses by a breath.  Big broad illustrations and rhyming couplets help tell this tale well.  Tortoise consoles Hare at the end: "You might just win next time" and then suggests a race to the lettuce patch.  The endpapers reproduce in monochrome the map of the race.

2016 La Laitière et le Pot au Lait.  Alexandre Jardin.  Illustrated by Fred Multier.  Hardbound.  Paris: Les petits secrets des Fables:  Hachette Jeunesse.  $10 in Paris, August, '17. 

The colophon for this charming little booklet is so long and complex that I could not find out some of the information that I needed.  Hachette, McDonald's, The Marketing Store Worldwide, and Havi Global Solutions seem to have the rights locked up, but which of them produced this booklet or where is not clear.  Apparently the series takes La Fontaine's fables and makes them into a page by page quest, where we need to answer questions -- not necessarily germane to the fable -- before moving on.  This milkmaid is swinging her pail around rather than carrying it on her head, and she has Billy, her friendly puppy, with her.  La Fontaine's fable is given the last two pages.  Before then we get a longer prose version that wanders through some 25 pages.  The setting is the "Far West."  Billy accompanies her as she is swinging the pot.  Question:  What has impressed the serpent in the corner?  Answer: the horns of the bull.  As Billy and Perrette converse about her eggs in the next scene, our question concerns the Mariachi band playing near them.  And so on.  Perrette's dreams even construct a gigantic amusement park and get her into a circus performance.  My!  There is plenty of spirit and imagination here.  I think La Fontaine would love it, if he would recognize it.  This booklet inspired me to seek the rest of the booklets in the series.  It is not yet clear whether I will be able to "bring them in."

2016 Le corbeau et le renard.  Jean de La Fontaine.  Illustrated by Séverine Duchesne.  Paperbound.  Champigny-sur-Marne:  Éditions Lito.  €2.50 from Gibert Jeune, Paris, August, '17.

This is a colorful cartoonlike presentation of FC on stiff shiny paper.  The presentation consists of five two-page spreads that play well with the story.  The crow rests on a pillow in his perch, with squirrel, worm, and butterfly as his neighbors.  The fox wears human clothes, including suspenders, jeans, and sneakers.  The squirrel holds his ears when the crow breaks into jubilant song.  Three other booklets in the series are illustrated on the back cover.

2016 Life and Soul in Fables.  Alan Wong.  Paperbound.  London: Austin Macauley.  Gift of the publishers, May, '16.

Let me offer a quick reaction and then include some comments from the publisher's agent, who offered me the book.  I find this book a noble effort.  It is a challenge to write fables that can compel contemporary readers.  I enjoyed the first few fables in this book.  I also wondered: can the writer continue to write short, pointed fables?  For me, the answer is not clear.  I tried various fables after the first few.  Several confirmed my fears that the author would want to write longer stories.  One ("The Loveless Maiden" [44]) confirmed my fear that short fables would be obvious.  I look forward to reading more.  Here is what the agent wrote to me.  “Life and Soul in Fables,” the debut collection of fables from Alan Wong is an enchanting collection of fables with morals and messages very pertinent to our present day lifestyle. Expressed through easily accessible tales from nature, told through the interactions of animals and plants as well as people, the collection explores important themes like friendship, strength, arrogance, conceit, humility and many other characteristics spanning the whole breadth of human emotions. The talented writer says: 'I first starting reading Aesop’s Fables whilst I was attending University in Birmingham. My interest was such that I wanted to begin writing them myself. The stories in my book are inspired by many different works, observations and general experiences in my life. Each fable gives us an insight about the effects of wrongdoing, the rewards of virtue or a deeper understanding of the world around us.'"

2016 The Boy Who Cried Wolf.  Adapted by Teresa Mlawer.  Illustrated by Olga Cuéllar.  Paperbound.  Canandaigua, NY: Timeless Fables:  Adirondack Books.  $4.99 from Amazon, April, '17.

This is a 24-page 8" square pamphlet.  Young Peter and his dog Lucas go out every day to take care of the sheep on the hillside overlooking town.  Upon his first "Wolf!" cry, his mother finds him hiding behind a rock "roaring with laughter."  Admonished by his mother, Peter promises that he will never do it again.  After a few days, he is again lonely and bored.  This time some of the villagers refuse to respond, but his parents do -- and find him "laughing hysterically."  Of course the wolf soon does attack.  Cuéllar gives him strong red eyes.  Peter is clever enough to throw his lunch basket at him and hit him on the nose.  The "Lucas touch" is very nice in this pleasant little booklet.  The negative lesson about lying is balanced by his parents' pride that he saved the sheep.

2016 The King of Crap and Other Fables for Grown-Up Kids.  Kathryn Star Huggins.  Cover Art by Raynola Dominguez.  Paperbound.  Bonners Ferry, Idaho: Star Dancer Publications.  $7.99 from Amazon, Oct., '16.

This is a book of short fictional stories based on contemporary pop psychology.  The King of Crap is a king who does not know he is a king.  Responding to early put-downs, he sees himself as nothing more than a shoveler of crap -- until a woman has confidence in him and encourages him to experience his own worth, in fact his kingliness.  "Backpack Land" (12) is about a land where people put negative experiences as bricks or rocks into their personal backpacks and live with them for the rest of their lives.  The heroine of the story at last decides to take bricks out of her backpack and to stop putting them in.  In the last line of the story, freed from her backpack, she drives out of backpack land. 

2016 The Lion and the Mouse.  Adapted by Teresa Mlawer.  Illustrated by Olga Cuéllar.  First printing.  Paperbound.  Canandaigua, NY: Timeless Fables:  Adirondack Books.  $4.99 from Amazon, Nov., '17. 

This is a 24-page 8" square pamphlet.  This version presents a curious, aggressive, adventuresome mouse who pulls the sleeping lion's eyelid open.  Not a good idea!  "You never know" is the mouse's good response a few lines later.  The next event comes a few weeks later, when the mouse recognizes the roar that he hears.  We learn here that a small friend can be a big help.

2016 The Mysterious Library: A Coloring Book Journey Into Fables.  Translated by Lauren Na.  Illustrated by Eunji Park.  First printing.  Paperbound.  Waves of Color:  Seven Seas Entertainment.  $12.56 from Joslyn Art Museum, Jan., ‘18.

First published in 2015 by Hyeonamsa Publishing Company in Korea.  I bought this book at the Joslyn, happy to find a fable book that they had discovered of which I had known nothing.  Alas, it is not a fable book at all.  A young girl wanders into a library and encounters glorious pictures -- to be colored -- relating to a number of classic fairytales.  The fairytales are identified by pages in the last few pages of this large-format book almost 10" square.

2016 The Lion Inside.  Rachel Bright.  Illustrated by Jim Field.  First Scholastic Paperback Printing.  Paperbound.  NY: Scholastic.  $7.45 from Amazon, March, ‘18.  

Having found a hardbound edition, I wanted to get a paperbound copy as well.  Here it is.  First published in the UK in 2015 by Orchard Books.  Rhyming quatrains.  The diminutive mouse wants to be someone.  He wants to roar!  "If you want things to change, you first have to change…YOU!”  It turns out that this lion is frightened of mice!  "No matter our size, we all have a lion and mouse inside!"  Perhaps the two most significant illustrations in this encouraging booklet are the small illustration on the title-page in which the frightened mouse is reading a book "How to Roar" and the central two-page spread in which the lion sees the mouse and declares "Eeek!"

2016 The Lion Inside.  Rachel Bright.  Illustrated by Jim Field.  Third Scholastic Printing.  Hardbound.  NY: Scholastic.  $10.40 from Amazon, March, ‘18.  

First published in the UK in 2015 by Orchard Books.  Rhyming quatrains.  The diminutive mouse wants to be someone.  He wants to roar!  "If you want things to change, you first have to change…YOU!”  It turns out that this lion is frightened of mice!  "No matter our size, we all have a lion and mouse inside!"  Perhaps the two most significant illustrations in this encouraging booklet are the small illustration on the title-page in which the frightened mouse is reading a book "How to Roar" and the central two-page spread in which the lion sees the mouse and declares "Eeek!"

2016 The Original Fables of La Fontaine: Tales for Children of Many Lands.  Frederick Colin Tilney.  Paperbound.  Publisher not acknowledged.  $11.61 from Grand Eagle Retail through eBay, Sept., '16.

This is a curious published-upon-demand book.  It represents some of the features that set me against this style of book.  It seems to be a reprinting, including illustrations, of a book first published in 1913.  I write "seems" because the publishers do not indicate the date of the original which they are copying.  The front cover presents a lively picture of the fox waiting for the crow to drop his circle of cheese.  The back cover strangely reverts to a French-language commendation of La Fontaine's fables.  Turn two pages inside the book and we see the erroneous title for the frontispiece "The heart of Thyrsis left" whereas the list of illustrations four pages later has the correct "The heart of Thyrsis leapt."  Readers may be upset at the wandering margins, for example, in that list of illustrations.  Of course the colored illustrations are here rendered in black-and-white.  The original was printed, as one finds here on the title page, by London: J.M. Dent and Sons in London and by E.P. Dutton in New York.  One looks here in vain for an acknowledgement of the publisher of this printing.

2016 The Tortoise and  the Hare.  Adapted by Teresa Mlawer.  Illustrated by Olga Cuéllar.  Paperbound.  Canandaigua, NY: Timeless Fables:  Adirondack Books.  $4.99 from Amazon, April, '17.

This is a 24-page 8" square pamphlet.  The tortoise here is a female and the hare a male, nicely set off by the pink along his nose and up into his ears.  Once the race is ready to be run, "everyone thought that the hare would win, but secretly, they were rooting for the tortoise.  The hare decides to take a rest and taunts the tortoise that he can catch up to her "in a minute."  Perhaps to our surprise, the hare awakens and is still comfortably in the lead.  The hare then decides to stop and munch on some lettuce sprouts on the side of the road.  The heavy meal and the hot sun do him in.  He awakens as the tortoise is moving down the stretch, to the cheers of the crowd.  This tortoise sweats as she nears the finish line and sticks out her neck.  "If you persevere and try your best you can succeed."

2016 Walt Kelly's Fables and Funnies: Dell Comics Stories 1942-1949.  Compiled by David W. Tosh.  Introduction by John E. Petty.  First edition, first printing.  Hardbound.  Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Books.  $33.51 from Amazon, June, '16.

As John Petty's introduction makes clear, this book looks beyond the usual fascination -- well deserved, of course -- with Walt Kelly's "Pogo" comic strips to a fruitful time when Kelly, after working on Disney's "Fantasia," "Dumbo," and "Pinocchio" and before developing "Pogo" worked for Western Publishing and Dell Comics.  What we find here is a mixture of one-page presentations of nursery rhymes and longer narratives, most 6 to 20 pages in length, gathered here in six chapters.  One sample coming close to some fable situations is "Elephunnies" (83-90), but the story goes through many stages.  I think Kelly is at his best presenting and parodying traditional nursery rhymes.  "Sing a Song of Sixpence" and other nursery rhymes are played straight with delightful cartoons on 141-150.  A good example of playing with nursery rhymes is "Mix-up" on 116.  Other than the pairing of fox and crow on 206, I can find no reference to or use of Aesopic fable materials here.  But, oh, the visual artistry is exquisite!  People reading "Fables" in the title here will wonder if there really are fables, and so I keep the book in the collection.

2016 50 Famous Fables and Folk Tales Collected from Around the World.  Retold by Tom Baker.  Designed by Brenda McCallum.  Hardbound.  Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, Ltd.  $9.99 from Amazon, Jan., '17.

This is a collection strong on engaging stories.  Fables make up perhaps 80% or 90% of the book.  The designs along the way are not remarkable.  That could be a cheese dropping from the crow's beak toward the fox below on the cover; both have red in their eyes.  Some stories are new to me, like "The Priest and the Robber" (21).  Some have a good deal of magic, like "The Boy's Toe Bone" (19).  I am happy to see "Stone Soup" included in a book like this (27).  One seldom sees "The Green Jackass" (13).  "The Jackal and the Elephant's Carcass" (52) is a strong fable, new to me.  The greedy jackal gets caught inside an elephant carcass!  The stories are well told.  If one wanted to give a contemporary little collection of well-told tales, including fables, this would surely be a book to consider.

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To top

2017

2017 Aesop's Fables, Complete and Unabridged.  Translated by V.S. Vernon Jones.  With illustrations by Arthur Rackham and others, hand-coloured by Barbara Frith.  Afterword by Anna South.  First printing.  Dust-jacket.  Hardbound.  London: MacMillan Collector's Library:  MacMillan.  $12.61 from Amazon, May, '18.

This book is a reissue of a book published in 2014 by Collector's Library.  It includes 284 numbered fables and so is a "complete and unabridged" copy of what was first published by Heinemann and by Doubleday in 1912.  The hand-coloring is nicely done.  For examples, notice the court scene on 136 and "The Bald Man and the Fly" on 152.  Less well done are the illustrations already colored by Rackham.  The small format (4" x 6¼"), brown titles, and lovely illustrations make this a very nice edition.  The dust jacket has the smiling fox serving a very large platter to a stork on the front and, on the back, the fox emptying an amphora's last drop, with "Slow and steady wins the race" somewhat illogically above that illustration.

2017 Aesop's Favorite Fables: More Than 130 Classic Fables for Children!  Valdemar Paulsen (NA).  With Pictures by Milo Winter.  First edition, first printing.  Hardbound.  NY: Racehorse for Young Readers: Skyhorse Publishing.  $14.39 from treasurebookisland through eBay, April, '17.

Here is the latest in a long string of reprintings of Rand McNally's "The Aesop for Children," first printed in 1919.  What is different here?  First the title.  Secondly, the publisher.  There are further surprises here.  The book is, as far as I can tell, a literal reproduction of the original.  Why then say "More than 130 Classic Fables for Children!" when there are in fact 146, as in the original?  This edition still fails to credit Valdemar Paulsen, as copies of the book did from the beginning, though others who used portions of it acknowledged Paulsen.  A further surprise is that Bodemann seems to know nothing of this book, or of anything attributed to Milo Winter.  A final mystery with this particular copy is that I bought it on eBay, and the seller is listed as treasurebookisland.  Why then, did the book come with a Barnes and Noble invoice?  And why was the eBay price $14.39 when Barnes and Noble sells it for $11.44?  I wrote earlier that the versions of the fables here have a steady eye on correct children's behavior.  The stories' actions are carefully motivated, sometimes even over-motivated.  In fact, the stories have a tendency to overkill.  There are good statements from the characters, made to themselves when talk with others would be inappropriate.  There are some double morals.

2017 Esti allatmesek.  Ildiko Boldizsar.  Illustrated by Csilla Koszeghy.  Hardbound.  Budapest: Mora: Konyvkiado.  3499 Forints in Budapest, August, '17.

This is a large-format (about 8½" x 11¾") book offering more folktales than fables, despite the lively illustration of FS on the cover and repeated on 17.  Others of the fifteen or so full-page illustrations may well be of fables.  On 8 a fox looks up at a rooster on a tree branch.  That could well be UP.  On 26 a fox sits on a frozen lake with his tale frozen into the icy water behind him.  On 81, a clever rabbit runs across the backs of crocodiles lined up like a bridge of stones to hop over.  The stories here come from a broad range of cultures: Thailand, Africa, Burma, Slovakia, Japan, Ethiopia, and others.  Check the FS image again.  Can a wing and vase ever look that way?  Which is in front of which?

2017 Fables for Leaders.  John Lubans.  Illustrated by Béatrice Coron.  Paperbound.  Salem, OR: Ezis Press.  $26.99 from Amazon, Oct., '17. 

I enjoy this book and even find John Luibans something of a kindred spirit.,  The heart of the book, I would say, is a collection of traditional Aesopic fables.  To these Luibans adds a number of things.  First of all there are what I would call ruminations, reflecting well on how the fable applies to life.  Then there are fables from others, including especially himself.  My hat is off to anyone who, after the thousands of fables that have been created in our literary tradition, makes a new one.  I do note that Lubans' fables seem longer than the traditional Aesop fables he uses.  To these texts are added simple, pleasing silhouettes,like the dramatic gesture outlined on the cover.  The book also makes room for personal notes from readers.  It all adds up for me to a valuable book.  The fables are grouped by themes under seven chapters, with two to eight themes per chapter.  Bravo, John Lubans!

2017 Grandes fábulas de La Fontaine para los más pequeños.  Translated by Sara Cano Fernández.  Illustrated by various artists..  Hardbound.  Barcelona:  Beascoa: Penguin Random House Grupo Edtorial.  $15.09 from Bargain Book Stores, Grand Rapids, Sept., '17.

Apparently originally published as "Fàbulas de la Fontaine: livro de histórias" by Zero a Oito in Portugal in 2014.  This 10" square book contains six stories, each about twelve pages in length.  Each story is illustrated by a different artist.  FS, GA, TMCM, GGE, WL, and "The Angler and the Little Fish."  Each story has an identical final two page element: a page with a sign "Moraleja del Cuento" and a page of perhaps 12 to 15 lines of reflection on the story.  The stories are indeed well fashioned for children.  The artistry is simple in each case but decidedly varied from story to story.  GA is told in the non-La Fontaine fashion, and TMCM is tilted toward the superiority of country life.  Both characters in FS are female.  Among the most curious illustrations is the view inside the dead hen that had produced golden eggs (45)!  The first finish to WL seems to say something like "In this story, evil wins in the end.  Protect the innocent always if you want to triumph."  The more official moral advises getting away from such types and avoiding the harm that they can do to us.  The little fish begging to be thrown back has musical notes coming out its mouth.  The final two pages here are shortened to one.

2017 Town Mouse, Country Mouse.  Libby Walden.  Illustrated by Richard Jones.  First printing.  Hardbound.  London: Little Tiger Group: Caterpillar Books.  $11.04 from Superbookdeals through Amazon, Jan., '18. 

The back cover rightly describes this as a "rhyming peep-through picture book."  The front cover indicates several of its charms when it presents the two mice through cutouts of the thick cover material and when it supplies a series of small snapshots selected from scenes in the book.  The basic story here is of a swap that brings each mouse back to enjoy his or her home.  Cutouts in the pages present a nice contrast, as when City Mouse has a picture of country mouse in her wall in front of the motorcar wallpaper like the front endpapers.  She writes, by the way, on an ace of spades desk surface.  Turn the page and we find on the wall of the Country Mouse a framed picture "Town Life," which of course looks through the same cutout hole to the previous scene's view of the town.  Storyteller and artist both linger nicely on the details of packing up, watering plants, and saying good-bye to friends.  Once they have traded places, noise in the town wakes up Country Mouse, who has to be stopped by a spider from blundering into a mouse trap.  Town Mouse has to be warned by a bird not to eat some berries that would make her sick.  Life gets worse for both when they go outside.  The series of city scenes across the top of these pages is particularly well done.  Now back at home, Town Mouse knows it's the place for her and sends a paper airplane out to her country cousin, who reflects that home is where the heart is.  The book ends with flowered endpapers, as it began with citylike automobile images.  This is a clever and engaging children's book.

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