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Aesop's Fables Hardcover – March 3, 2009

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

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

What separates this collection of 36 Aesop tales from numerous others is the handsome presentation, the brevity of the stories, and the quixotic illustration style. One fable per page is designed with the text in a sidebar on the outer edge alongside acrylic paintings reminiscent of stylized folk art. Many of these fables will be unfamiliar to most readers, but their succinct quality makes them equally appealing. Each abridged telling is lucid, and the final line makes concrete the moral. For instance, the story “The Two Crabs” ends with “Sometimes people will give you advice about things they won’t do themselves.“ Opposite the table of contents is an appealing mosaic of postage stamp–sized pictures that correspond to each listed fable, and it’s an effective tease. This rendition shouldn’t replace Jerry Pinkney’s or Brad Sneed’s or Michael Morpurgo and Emma Chichester Clark’s versions, but it definitely earns a place on the shelf. The final page is a note about Aesop. Grades 1-4. --Julie Cummins

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 4 - 7 years
  • Grade Level: Preschool - 2
  • Hardcover: 40 pages
  • Publisher: Sterling (March 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402752989
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402752988
  • Product Dimensions: 11.8 x 10 x 9.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,228,906 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Doug Hibbard VINE VOICE on March 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover
When I picked up Aesop's Fables by John Cech, my first thought, honestly, was that we didn't need another version of Aesop kicking around the house. We already have 2 or 3, I'm not even sure exactly how many we own. Why? Because Aesop, whoever he actually was, writes great fables with good morals.

Wait, you didn't know we don't know exactly who Aesop is? Well, there's one reason you should get this version. The author includes a brief explanation at the end about who we think Aesop was, and also the importance of storytelling to cultural memory. These reminders alone were worth it to me as a grown-up reading this book.

But, you're not looking to get a book to read one page, are you? With this retelling of Aesop's Fables, John Cech has focused on the stories that can be narrowed down to just a few paragraphs. Each one is accompanied by a vivid illustration by Martin Jarrie. The stories are easily read, the illustrations relate to the story (not always the case in children's books, for some reason), and by isolating the moral at the end, it's a great read-with-me with a child because you can read the story, and have them read the moral, thus getting it better in their heads.

All told, this is a good introductory collection of Aesop's fables. You'll want to add others after you've had this one, as there are fables that aren't present in this work, but starting here is a great point for learning these classic tales.
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The text is concise and no better no worse than the other million versions of what to this reader is a largely outdated set of fables. It's the illustrations that place this volume head and shoulders above the rest however. Jarrie's deliciously faux folk art illustrations expose a brilliant artist working at the top of his game. Even better than his lovely ABC USA. There's a compelling attraction and mystery about his images, the landscapes in which they are composed, and the colour schemes he uses. I'd be more than happy to have one on the wall as a work of art. As is so often the case in today's ratbag art world market, the most compelling work - free of the gimmicky and celebrity-mugging twaddle that poses as cutting-edge work - is being done by children's books illustrators. Martin Jarrie is a pre-eminent example.
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Each fable has been shortened to one or two paragraphs. I'm familiar with most of the fables, and I got this to read to my son. These versions of the fables are not very well-written and have been shortened to the point where they make no sense. The artwork is very nice, but it isn't enough to compensate for the poor quality of the writing.
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