Seven fables are blandly retold, accompanied by unambitious pop-ups likely to spark only fleeting moments of attention from readers.
Baruzzi adds to the usual suspects (“The Lion and the Mouse,” “The Fox and the Grapes” etc.,) the less-familiar “Dog and His Bone” and a mildly unusual version of “The Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing” in which the disguised wolf is by chance chosen to be a shepherd’s dinner. Any violence in the episodes has been left out or dialed down—particularly in “The Bear and the Beehives,” which in traditional versions has the much-stung Bear tearing his skin off, but here only ruefully licking his wounds. Each fable comes with an explicit if not always well-phrased moral (“It is better to walk away from one hurt than to stay around and hurt more”) and is contained in a small booklet glued onto a richly colored and patterned collage illustration. Along with low-relief pop-up figures, the pictures include one or two limited-motion swivels or pull-tabs that will, for instance, propel the Hare a partial step or move an industrious Ant a few inches along a slotted path. Two fables are squeezed into an apparently arbitrarily chosen spread, making the overall design as undistinguished as the writing and the paper engineering.
Next to the magisterial pop-up Aesop’s Fables of Kees Moerbeck et al. (2011), not to mention the plethora of livelier non–pop-up collections, an also-ran. (Pop-up/fables. 6-8)