The author of American Picturebooks from Noah's Ark to the Beast Within (1976), who is also a former editor of Kirkus, presents a selection from one of children's literature's most enduring sources--19 fables in succinct versions based on ancient texts. Her introduction--a history of the stories--includes a substantial amount of meaty information, yet could be read with interest by older children; she describes her concluding ""Life of Aesop"" as legend, having been accepted (in the absence of hard facts) as truth ""for centuries."" Geisert, an etcher responsible for several elegant, comical wordless books (Pigs from A to Z, 1986), contributes carefully structured prints whose quiet style is a particularly good choice for this spare text. Setting them in his hometown--Galena, Illinois--he provides pleasing combinations of vignettes, frames, and larger illustrations and populates the rural landscape with lively creatures and overalled farmers. Minor cavil: a ""half-filled"" glass pitcher is shown with so little water in it that it is inconsistent with its later appearance, after the crow has added pebbles in order to get a drink. Still, an unusually attractive edition; Bader's informative additions are especially valuable.