Twelve classic fables are more or less successfully transposed to northern climes by an Alaskan author and illustrator.
Conscientiously acknowledging her sources by pairing each tale in the table of contents with the original fable on which it is based, the writer switches cast members where appropriate but sticks closely to the older versions’ plots and morals. “Hare and Tortoise” becomes “Hare and Porcupine,” for instance, and “The Tortoise and the Eagle” changes to “The Arctic Ground Squirrel and the Sandhill Crane.” Big, broadly brushed illustrations place the feathered or shaggy actors in nearly treeless but far from barren settings, creating a luxuriant sense of place. This is enhanced by frequent, sometimes fulsome, references in the text to subarctic flora, fauna or the landscape in general (carried high above the tundra, the ground squirrel sees “caribou moss, saxifrage, clumps of willow, bearberries, and more”). Distracting as these interpolations may be, the stories’ universal moral themes remain clear and intact.
A distinctive, respectful selection from the Aesopian canon. (Picture book/folktales. 6-9)