Aesop’s Fables

Michael Rosen, Author, Talleen Hacikyan, Illustrator
Michael Rosen, illus. by Talleen Hacikyan. Tradewind (Orca, dist.), $16.95 (32p) ISBN 978-1-896580-81-4
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Versatile storyteller Rosen (We’re Going on a Bear Hunt) distills 13 well-known Aesop’s fables into one-page retellings, illustrated in folk-art style by Canadian artist Hacikyan. Rosen engages the stories’ grimmer aspects, and Hacikyan’s stylized illustrations, chalked on black backgrounds, suggest troublesome dreams on moonless nights. In “Dog and Wolf,” a wolf with an empty stomach eyes a “sleek and fat” dog’s collar and snarls, “I’d rather be free than a well-fed slave.” In “Cockerel, Dog and Fox,” a treed rooster protects himself by asking the predator to wake his “Doorman” (“So Fox woke up Dog. And Dog snarled and snapped and tore Fox apart quicker than it takes a leaf to fall from a tree”). Rosen supplies morals tailored for today’s cultures of bullying and savvy social interactions. When Fox praises Crow’s voice, so that Crow opens his mouth and drops a piece of cheese, Rosen remarks that sneaky individuals use compliments “just so they can get something from you.” If there is but cold comfort in these pages, the fables should still provide fodder for conversation. Ages 4–8. (Oct.)
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