Prolific Brit Rosen and Canadian artist Hacikyan deliver 13 of the legendary fabulist’s moral vignettes.
Familiar fables such as “Mouse and Lion” and “Town Mouse and Country Mouse” accompany lesser-known parables. Rosen’s plainspoken telling engages children with injected humor. In “Frog and Bull,” Frog is impressed with Bull’s huge size. “It’s bigger than a hundred frogs. I’m only as big as its eyeball. Oooh, how I would like to be as big as Bull.” Frog gulps air to puff himself up, addressing an unseen child chorus: “Hey children, how am I doing? Am I as big as Bull?” Not even close, they respond, and Frog continues to gulp with predictably disastrous results. Rosen conveys the morals pithily. In “Lion, Fox and Wolf,” Fox (to put it mildly) outsmarts Wolf, who’s been disparaging him to Lion behind his back. “If you plot and scheme against other people, you’ll probably end up with them plotting against you.” Hacikyan’s accomplished dry-brushed acrylics, luminous against black fields, incorporate handprinted leaves and textile block patterns, bespeaking her acumen as a printmaker. The leafy endpapers are stunning.
Incorporating a vain crow, opportunistic wolves and foxes, talking trees and more, this collection both instructs and charms. (scholar’s note) (Fables. 5-10)