Mice, Morals, & Monkey Business: Lively Lessons from Aesop's Fables

Christopher Wormell, Illustrator . Running Press $18.95 (64p) ISBN 978-0-7624-2404-7

Young readers and experienced artisans alike will find much to admire in Wormell's (Teeth, Tails, & Tentacles ) richly colored showcase of linocuts, which salute Aesop and wood engraver Thomas Bewick (1753–1828). Stripping down both fable and composition to the essentials, Wormell focuses on aphorisms and characters, which act as clues to help readers puzzle out the fables' plots. On the left-hand page, he provides a familiar maxim and a title in oversize type: "It is easy to propose impossible solutions./ Belling the Cat." On the right-hand side, he provides a full-page illustration framed in a sooty black line—for instance, eight honey-brown mice confer while a sinister, silhouetted cat eyes them from a distance. Most readers will recognize the mahogany ant with a stalk of gold wheat and the grasshopper on an arching green stalk ("Prepare today for the needs of tomorrow"), while neophytes have to parse the iconic image of a mouse, lion and frayed rope, captioned with "Little friends may prove great friends." If the epigrams and visual hints don't suffice, the fables appear in an appendix, next to thumbnail reproductions of the prints. Wormell's album combines pleasing design and a format ideal for group sharing. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)

Reviewed on: 08/29/2005
Release date: 09/01/2005
Board Books - 21 pages - 978-0-7624-2932-5
Hardcover - 64 pages - 978-0-7624-2611-9
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