cover image Lion and the Puppy and Other Stories for

Lion and the Puppy and Other Stories for

Leo Nikolayevich Tolstoy. Henry Holt & Company, $15.95 (289pp) ISBN 978-0-8050-0735-0

Taken from Tolstoy's Azbuka , or ``primer,'' these are the stories he created for the village children who came to the ``school'' in his garden, the same children who would soon be old enough to work in factories for 12 hours, seven days a week. In the title story, a hapless puppy is thrown in the cage of a lion. The two become close companions until the puppy dies; the lion grieves and dies shortly thereafter. In the poignant ``Escape of a Dancing Bear,'' it is the brown beast's training to twirl at his master's call that leads to his recapture, and ``The Old Poplar'' is the tale of the misguided intentions of a gardener. These are just a few of the treasures Riordan selected; his friendly introduction sets the appropriate tone for the straightforward translations. Done with taste and reserve, the brevity of each tale contributes further to the general accessibility of the stories. Though few, the realistic, sometimes stiffly rendered pictures lend color to the stories. All ages. (August)