cover image Belling the Cat and Other Aesop's Fables

Belling the Cat and Other Aesop's Fables

Tom Paxton. Morrow Junior Books, $13.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-688-08158-4

Paxton and Rayevsky perform a fine encore following their Aesop's Fables in these 10 tales, which include ``Town Mouse and Country Mouse,'' ``The Crow and the Pitcher,'' ``Honesty Is the Best Policy'' and, especially delectable in its whimsy, ``Who's Helping Whom?,'' a dialogue between feet and stomach. Once again, text and illustrations are a model of ingenuity and economy. The verses have a rhythmic, laconic charm that sharpens the fables' irony; they practically beg to be read aloud. The bonnets, waistcoats and spurs sported by various characters reflect an offbeat but surprisingly effective visual interpretation. Stylized yet expressive, the paintings are remarkable for the humor, flavor and the sense of motion they convey in a limited space. Readers won't fail to appreciate the wit and jauntiness that spring from these pages to deliver each moral with a sly wink. Ages 4-up. (Mar.)