FABLES by Arnold Lobel

FABLES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

One might expect that the creator of Frog and Toad could, if he chose, give us fables with some subtlety and psychological depth. But there's not a jot of wit, wisdom, style, or originality in these 20 flat and predictable items. The illustrations could be animal companions to the human figures for Gregory Griggs (1978), Lobel's nursery rhyme collection; but these suffer for having less to illustrate. Lobel begins with the static portrait of a foolish crocodile, who prefers the patterned flowers on his bedroom wallpaper to the tangled profusion of his wife's real garden. And so? He simply stays in bed and turns "a very pale and sickly shade of green." Even the moral is redundant: "Without a doubt there is such a thing as too much order." The third fable is another platitude in story form: a little Beetle topples an imperious Lion King who demands respect. "If you look at me closely you will see that I am making a bow," says the Beetle, whereupon King Lion bends over and, top-heavy with jeweled crown and medals, loses his balance. Meanwhile, in the second entry, Lobel has added a twist of sorts, possibly for a joke; but it's counterproductive. It starts out with two duck sisters arguing about whether they will go to the pond by their usual route or try something new. "This road makes me feel comfortable. I am accustomed to it," says one. We're set up for a confrontation between the stodgy and the venturesome, right? But then instead of confirming, modifying, or exposing the expected conclusion, Lobel fudges the issue: a fox, who knows their habits, is waiting to bag them on their regular route. Moral: "At times, a change of routine can be most healthful." In another fable, Lobel evokes Aesop with a crane inviting a pelican to tea, only to set forth a cautionary lesson in table manners. (And the consequence of messy pelican's bad ones is merely that he isn't invited back.) All of which serves to confirm Lobel's moral for his story of "The Frogs at the Rainbow's End": "The highest hopes may lead to the greatest disappointments.
Pub Date: Aug. 20th, 1980
ISBN: 0064430464
Page count: 52pp
Publisher: Harper & Row
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1st, 1980




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