cover image The Lion and the Mouse and Other Aesop Fables

The Lion and the Mouse and Other Aesop Fables

Doris Orgel, Bert Kitchen. DK Publishing (Dorling Kindersley), $16.95 (40pp) ISBN 978-0-7894-2665-9

An even dozen of Aesop's fables round out this volume, which ultimately misses the mark. Orgel's (We Goddesses) retellings, spirited and brisk, engage readers' attention quickly and maintain a lively pace. Her introduction provides background and historical context for the tales. Kitchen's (And So They Build) illustrations, a series of beautifully detailed watercolor and gouache scenes, make full use of the book's oversize format. The problem lies in the fact that the fables do not conclude with a moral. Instead of ending with the expected bang, each of the parables concludes with a mini sidebar that contains a tidbit of information about ancient Greece, the culture in which Aesop lived. It's a good bet most readers would rather see ""Slow and steady wins the race"" at the end of the tale of the tortoise and the hare than find the name of Aesop's master and speculation about how Aesop might have befriended one of his fellow slaves. Like a symphony that ends on an unresolved chord, the omission will likely leave readers feeling dissatisfied and may result in this otherwise splendid picture book gathering dust on the shelf. Ages 4-8. (Sept.)