2020 to 2024

2020 Aesop's Fables for Children.  Valdemar Paulsen (NA).  Pictures by Milo Winter.  Paperbound.  Mineola, NY: Dover Pictorial Archive Series: Dover Publications.  $14.99 from Amazon, Oct., '20.

We have this book in many forms, including some from Dover.  What is new about this edition is the link to an mp3 download of some 43 fables.  Otherwise Dover acknowledges it as a reprint of its 2008 edition, also in our collection.  Though mention of this as "Green Edition" seems to have disappeared, the book still belongs to the "Dover Pictorial Archive Series."  Its Amazon price is up to $14.99.  With the advent of the mp3 link, the attached CD has disappeared.  So this is another fine reprint of the classic "The Aesop for Children" published in 1919 by Rand McNally.  It does a fine job of reproducing the exquisite Milo Winter illustrations.  It reproduces the 112 pages of the original faithfully.  All the illustrations are colored.  As I mention in commenting on the original version, these stories 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.  I picked up this copy for the collection when I found out that all five duplicates in the collection have been lent out to people!

2020 Aesop's Fables: The Cruelty of the Gods.  Carlo Gébler.  Illustrations by Gavin Weston.  Apparent first printing.  Paperbound.  London: Head of Zeus, Ltd.  $5.96 from Amazon, June, '20.

This is the paperbound version of the hardbound book first printed in 2019.  As I wrote there, here is a serious new entry in the library of translations of Aesop's fables.  The 190 fables offered here are rewritten, based on Chambry's 1927 edition and the Penguin translation by Olivia and Robert Temple in 1998.  Not all who work with fables these days would applaud those decisions.  Some would have thought rather of Perry and Gibbs, respectively.  Let me offer a word about the book's divisions, its overall viewpoint, the individual texts, and the illustrations.  The ten divisions make sense and help the book to take shape as more than an endless round of stories.  Because they characterize the book well, I recount them here: "1. Caprice, Arrogance and the Exercise of Arbitrary Power"; "2. Irreconcilability, Conflict and Vengeance"; "3. Self-Deception, Stupidity and Idiocy"; "4. Ambition, Overweening and Overreach"; "5. Selfishness, Self-Interest and Self-Love"; "6. Gloating and Heartlessness"; "7. Jealousy, Covetousness and Greed"; "8. Cunning, Guile and Insight"; "9. Bitter Words, Rebukes, Barbs and Savageries"; and "10. Last Griefs or a Series of Epilogues."  Those titles indicate well, I think, the tone of the book's approach to the fables.  "Broadly speaking, Aesop has two subjects – the exercise of power and the experience of the powerless who endure life and all that it inflicts on them.  In his fables, the gods and goddesses who exercise power tend to be capricious, willful, thoughtless and unforgiving, while the powerless, the mortals (many of whom are animals) who endure life and all that it inflicts on them tend to be blind, deluded, foolish, and careless.  The discrepancy between the powerful and the powerless is a source of humour but it is also the basis of Aesop's critique.  The human world, as Aesop has it, is a place of rough, justice, deep hurt, epic cruelty and unstinting monstrousness" (7-8).  This view, it seems to me, works for a good number of fables, and its "critique" comes clear here in the way individual stories are shaped.  I see two things in the overall picture a little differently.  I find the gods rather unimportant in Aesop's view.  Greeks since Homer knew that they are capricious and immoral.  I think Aesop's eye is on the ironies of life, not on its divine background or causality.  The book's subtitle here may be distracting.  And I think there is more fun here than Gébler's viewpoint might allow.  Is it not part of the Aesopic experience to be teased into laughing at ourselves?  The individual versions, as I say, are well rewritten, expanded to express strong viewpoints, sharpened contrasts and bitter ironies.  The illustrations have the same bite.  Two good examples might be "The Champion Hen and the Widow" (247) and "The Dolphin and the Monkey" (267).  The detail of the frogs' king in action is a great choice for the front cover!  At the book's end, there are lists of correlations with Chambry and the book's 42 illustrations.

2020 Fabel-haft: 10 Fabeln nach Aesop in Versen, Bildern und Liedern: Hochdeutsche Ausgabe.  Jens Jacobsen.  Aquarelle von Ulrike Brokoph.  Paperbound.  Oldenburg: Isensee Verlag.  $21.86 from GreatBookPrices through ABE, Feb., '21.

This is a large-format (8¼" x 11⅞") paperback featuring lovely developments of ten fables.  These "developments" take us in three directions.  First, these texts are in Hochdeutsch but highly colloquial.  They tested my Umgangsprache!  Secondly, they offer songs for each fable, nicely rhymed.  Third, they offer good, large colored illustrations for each fable.  The "Etwas vorweg" preface wishes readers "Viel Freude dabei!"  That is a good sign!  Each fable has several small pictures besides the full-page illustration.  Maybe the best of these large illustrations is that of the mouse sniffing around the sleeping lion's nose (18).  Not a good idea!  Another excellent illustration is that for "Eagle and Tortoise" (35).  There are three moments of "Suchspiel" along the way and appendices on Aesop and on the material on FG too long to put at its place in the book.  Do not miss the identical book done in "Plattdeutsch" at the same time by the same people.

2020 Famous Animal Fables.  Carol Huey-Gatewood.  Various artists.  Paperbound.  Huntington Beach, CA: Teacher Created Materials.  $10.48 from Bargain Book Stores through Ebay, Feb., '20.

This 7" x 9" pamphlet offers seven fables, illustrated by various artists.  The cover shows a human and several monkeys waving to several other monkeys suspended from vines.  The first fable is new to me: the king of all the birds, a swan, has a daughter who wants to marry the most beautiful bird.  She chooses the peacock, but then he shows off in so shameful a manner that he is rejected and shunned.  Pride comes before a fall.  In the second, a greedy fox finds a hunter's lunch in a tree and, famished and skinny, climbs in.  After eating lots of the hunter's food, he cannot get out.  Luckily, snow confuses the hunter and the fox is not found out.  He emerges wiser.  In the third story, four different animals claim that a tree is theirs but soon learn to share the tree: elephant, monkey, hare, and partridge.  The fourth fable is CP.  The fifth fable substitutes a horse for the usual donkey who seems to learn successful behavior from a pet dog.  The sixth story is the most surprising to me.  A hatmaker falls asleep and finds that monkeys have stolen his hats.  After all sorts of attempts, he angrily throws his own hat to the ground, and all the monkeys do the same.  Success!  He gets his hats back.  His grandson undergoes the same adventure and throws his hat to the ground without the same effect among the monkeys.  "You are not the only one with a grandfather who tells stories!"  The last story is the traditional "Lion and Rabbit" from Panchatantra.  This is a lively recent book!

2020 Les Fables de la Fontanel: A quoi riment nos vies sexuelles?.  Sophie Fontanel.  Paperbound.  Paris: Robert Laffont, SAS.  $16.82 from Stars and Stripes Bookstore, through Amazon, Sept., '20.

As far as I can tell, this is a rather racy book of rhyming verse texts.  They all deal with the "rhyming" of sexual lives.  Someone in the presence of the author one day asked the subtitle's question.  Her answer: "Our sexual lives rhyme.  That's not nothing."  I believe that there is a good deal of wit and wisdom here, but the colloquial French and the subject area do not belong to my "professional expertise"!  I enjoyed two short poems that I tried.  The first is "La fable du producteur qui croyait vraiment tout possible" (25).  I believe a film producer asks a wannabe starlet to perform a sexual act and she puts him down with two words: "Sucer quoi?"  "Sometimes two words are enough to take the hump off the camel."  The other is "La fable de l'homme qui se trompait sur les femmes" (67).  He thinks girls are all whores.  But maybe it's not a matter of money.  Maybe none of them wants to have anything to do with "sa flȗte"!

2020 The ESmith Short Tales: Fables and Stories from Fairytale Land.  GranRan.  Illustrations by NuSaga Press.  Paperbound.  NuSaga Press.  $10.06 from grandeagleretail through Ebay, July, '20.

This 100-page paperback, printed upon demand, offers fifteen short stories based generally on traditional Aesopic fables but transformed into short stories.  eSmith is a fox cub who gets into adventures and learns of adventures from his tailless father and his "brash vixen" mother.  I read the first five, which includes a story new to me about a fox meeting his shadow for the first time.  eSmith's father lost his tail not in but on the ice.  "The Eagle and the Fox revisited" follows the fable carefully.  eSmith is the very cub stolen by the eagle, and his mother is the one who brings fire to the tree.  In this version, she burns down the whole tree after her son's release.  There is about one grayscale illustration per story.

2020 The Fabled Life of Aesop.  Ian Lendler.  Illustrations by Pamela Zagarenski.  First edition, first printing.  Dust-jacket.  Hardbound.  Boston/NY: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.  $14.39 from Amazon, Nov., '20.

Every couple of years a new book of fables comes out and I find myself cheering and saying "Yes, that's the idea!  Keep it fresh and engaging!"  This new version does just that.  It focuses early and late on Aesop's life and fits the fables into the framework created by that lens.  A climactic fable is thus DW, through which Aesop clever asks for his freedom from his owner "Jadon."  A number of features of this book echo the lovely approach to him, his life, and his stories.  Thus the dust-jacket does not simply echo the cover.  It pulls together key symbols in its own way.  Clever decorations show up in unexpected places, as when the fox gets the grapes on the colophon page.  The lion of other fables shows up with a blowing mane in SW and elsewhere, as does the same lovely Greek vase.  The stories show the same freshness.  Thus the wolf in BW eats the boy for dessert!  The donkey trying to be a lapdog breaks dishes.  TMCM gets a prize from me for both the creative hiding-place of the mice and then for the country mouse's good-bye wave.  The climactic double-page spreads between 52 and 57 are veritable feasts of illustration and morals.  Two questions arise for me from the book's interpretation.  Should we understand that Aesop started his storytelling career as a boy?  And was his story common knowledge at the time that his stories became widespread?

2020 The Panchatantra: Teaching Tales of Old India.  Narindar Uberoi Kelly.  Illustrated by Meagen Jenigen.  Paperbound.  Gurgaon, India: Hachette India Children's Books.  $12.15 from Amazon, Feb., '20.

This version has two great features.  First, it illustrates each story.  The colored illustrations range from part-page -- like the crocodile on viii -- to full-page -- like Sharma telling stories to the three young men on 7.  They help as one makes one way through a long work.  Secondly, the original feature of this 348-page edition is that the frame story is told on colored pages, while the individual stories filling in along the way are told on white pages.  A reader can let the subsidiary stories go in order to follow the frame story.  This clever arrangement can keep a reader on track as we descend through fables within fables.  Also, each of the five books has a list of its stories.  Again, one has help to know where one is along the way.  I would love to have a chance to teach this Panchatantra in a course!