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An Aesop’s Fable Revisited

by Nikki Giovanni & illustrated by Chris Raschka

Age Range: 9 - 11

Pub Date: May 1st, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-7636-3021-8
Publisher: Candlewick

In a stout defense of the value of art, Giovanni literally puts the ants on trial for leaving the grasshopper out in the cold. Seeking “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.”—plus half of the defendants’ summer bounty—Jimmy Grasshopper and his team of avian lawyers bring Nestor and Abigail Ant (who have their own legal team) into a woodland courtroom presided over by Judge Oscar Owl. Both sides present compelling, eloquent, relatively lengthy arguments: on the one hand about the importance and benefits of music (standing in for all of the arts), and on the other about supposed obligations imposed by unasked-for services and the rights of workers to the fruits of their physical labors. Rendered in curling brushstrokes, Raschka’s animal figures dress and stand as humans, though they crowd so close to each other that they tend to blend into shimmering, impressionistic tableaux. Before closing with an unlikely feel-good ending the jury reaches a verdict, but readers—children too, though the author more pointedly addresses parents, politicians and school administrators—may want to continue the discussion. (Folklore. 9-11, adult)