cover image Aesop's Fables

Aesop's Fables

Aesop, Safaya Salter. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt P, $14.95 (79pp) ISBN 978-0-15-200350-0

Salter refurbishes 58 of Aesop's fables with delicate flame-toned illustrations. Underscoring the timelessness and adaptability of the Greek storyteller's work, the British artist borrows motifs and styles from a number of the so-called cradles of civilization. In her full-page illustrations, slightly flattened perspectives recall antiquity, while the use of serial borders and of floral and geometric patterns seem specifically Middle Eastern. A fox and a stork pose with with a black-figure vase suggestive of pre-classical Athens; other pictures incorporate architectural flourishes (various types of capitals or arches) that evoke the style of an entire period. Small, color images interspersed with the text echo the facing illustrations; for spreads without full-page art, Salter produces stately framed miniatures or, alternately, abstract decorations. While the stories themselves receive perfectly satisfactory treatment, the concluding morals, unnecessarily modified, can take on a fortune-cookie flavor (``you will often be judged by the company you keep''). The moral here: judge this book by its cover full of sumptuous art. Ages 6-up. (Nov.)