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THE LION AND THE MOUSE by Doris Orgel Kirkus Star


by Doris Orgel, illustrated by Bert Kitchen

Age Range: 6 - 9

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-7894-2665-X
Publisher: DK Publishing

Grandly posed, with every whisker and hair not only in place but distinctly visible, Kitchen’s noble, masterfully realistic animals make this far and away the most sumptuous “Aesop” in years. Surprisingly, the supple informality with which Orgel retells the 12 fables—“In a jiffy Hare was more than halfway there. ‘I’ll take a little nap,’ he thought, and stretched out in the sun”—enhances, and is enhanced by, the illustrations, instead of warring with them. Rather than spell out the morals (they’re clear enough anyway), Orgel adds to every spread a brief, boxed gloss on Aesop’s life and times. As in his When Hunger Calls (1994), Kitchen alludes to violent ends rather than depicting them directly; here the stooping eagle is suspended inches from the oblivious, boastful cock, for instance, and the calm wolf gazes ironically up from the page as the shepherd boy vainly yells for help. Not all of Orgel’s selections end so badly, but all contain some trenchant, unmistakable message, and in an introduction pitched to young readers, she explains why these fables are still worth reading: they’re “surprising, wonderfully short, and fun. Moreover, what they mean is just as wise and true today as it was back then.” A story collection that amply repays revisits. (Folk tales. 6-9)