cover image The Best of Aesop's Fables

The Best of Aesop's Fables

Charlotte Voake, Aesop, Margaret G. Clark. Joy Street Books, $16.95 (61pp) ISBN 978-0-316-14499-5

The genial tone and presentation of the 30 selections in this compilation reflect Clark's belief that Aesop's tales are entertaining in their own right, and not merely--nor even primarily--as vehicles for instruction. Traditionalists may miss each story's familiar punchline summation, but little matter: the same keen observations about human foibles shine through, albeit between the lines. The text is crisp and pithy, with a fresh, unforced contemporary flavor well suited to reading aloud. Voake's illustrations range from full spreads to small spots and decorations; they all contain her sly wit and deft touch with character and line. In this format they often serve to set a mood or provide a visual frame of reference rather than explicate plot, and for this reason the book may appeal most to those at the upper end of the suggested age range. This is a more extensive and somewhat sharper collection than the recent, elegant Aesop from Lisbeth Zwerger. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)