cover image Sip of Aesop

Sip of Aesop

Jane Yolen, Karen Barbour, Aesop. Scholastic Inc., $14.95 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-590-47895-3

Yolen and Barbour prove a dynamite pairing in this splashy picture book. Here they jazz up a baker's dozen of Aesop's much-loved fables, most of which are familiar (""The Boy Who Cried Wolf,"" ""The Grasshopper and the Ants,"" ""The Lion and the Mouse""), along with a few quirkier choices (""The Frog and the Ox,"" ""The Tortoise and the Eagle""). Yolen sets the fables to verse, and clever verse it is, neatly distilling the essence of Aesop into a series of quatrains. Studded with outrageous puns (""The Fox and the Grapes,"" for instance, ends with this moral: ""High or low/ Upon the vine,/ Sour grapes/ Make an awful whine""), the rhymes can't help but spark smiles all around. Barbour (Little Nino's Pizzeria) dives wholeheartedly into the spirit of the literary renovation, dipping her brush in the hot colors of the Caribbean-teal, fuchsia, parrot green, chili pepper red. Flamboyantly surreal, her artwork is focused, yet alive with activity. This one's a winner in every way, and could easily outdistance the competition to become the best-loved Aesop on the shelf. Ages 5-10. (Sept.)