Is there any way to make a collection of Aesop’s fables feel fresh? Yes—turn it into a calendar.
The 90-degree rotation of the opening combines with the horizontal layout of the 12 fables to make the book look like a calendar; though there are no dates or monthly labels, the palette and mood of the fables modulate seasonally as they progress. The unusual format (akin to Tops and Bottoms by Janet Stevens, 1995) is a creative way to present these moralistic tales. The white-bordered paintings are placed on the top page; the story faces it on the bottom page, which is dotted with spot art that adds surrealistic accents. For example, in “The Cockerel and the Jewel,” a hungry rooster wears a bib and holds a fork as it eyes a large pearl ring. The spot art below shows three white plates holding jewelry, a fork twining a necklace spaghettilike around its tines next to one of them. The last line is: “I’d much rather have found a grain of corn to eat than all the jewels in the world,” and indeed, that necklace does not look very tasty. The cover depicts two jackdaws in front of a mirror, each in the process of transforming itself à la the two fables about the bird. From the familiar “The Lion and the Mouse” and “The Hare and the Tortoise” to the lesser-known “The Ox and the Frog” and “The Stag at the Pool,” this sophisticated collection will take readers beyond single-volume treatments.
An assortment of fables fabulously illustrated and strikingly presented. (Picture book/fables. 3-7)