cover image Aesop's Funky Fables: 9

Aesop's Funky Fables: 9

Vivian French, Aesop. Viking Children's Books, $15.99 (80pp) ISBN 978-0-670-87524-5

This British import adds a catchy, contemporary kick to Aesop's moral tales. The fables vary in form, including rhymes and monologues as well as narrative; they share, however, an unbridled use of sound effects, as in the start of ""The Fox and the Crow"": ""Once upon a time there was a fox/ (Fox fox fox fox fox fox fox)."" When the dog of ""The Dog and the Bone"" sees his reflection in a stream, the text takes his single-minded, greedy viewpoint: ""Dog saw dog./ Dog saw dog with bone./ Rich red juicy meaty just the thing./ `GRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR!'/ said dog./ `MINE!' "" In contrast, the first sentence of ""The Boy Who Cried Wolf"" is entirely matter-of-fact: ""To begin with, the boy liked looking after the sheep."" French's (A Song for Little Toad) impressive range of voice reveals a keen ear for dialogue and description: the characters are virtually audible; the scenes seem to perform themselves. Black-and-white spreads alternate with full color. Paul's (Winnie in Winter) caricatures are not so much ""funky"" as frantic, and their garish quality is exacerbated by a clumsy book design. However, the high-octane tales, in their verve and originality, constitute storytelling at its entertaining best. Ages 7-up. (Mar.)