cover image The Fabled Life of Aesop

The Fabled Life of Aesop

Ian Lendler, illus. by Pamela Zagarenski. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $18.99 (64p) ISBN 978-1-328-58552-3

Aesop’s life as an enslaved person is centered in this framing of his classic fables. The book’s first section gently glosses Aesop’s biography (“Growing up, Aesop learned to speak differently from people who were free. Slaves had to be careful”) and describes his fables as tools to convey meaning: “He had to find a way to tell the truth without angering his master. So he spoke in code.” The second section presents a collection of classic fables themselves, told in clear, concise language—“Once a hare was making fun of a tortoise for being so slow”—with an italicized moral at the end: “Slow but steady wins the race.” Zagarenski’s fantastical illustrations, rendered in blues and golden tones, are full of charming incongruities finely detailed, like a cheetah in knickerbockers and vultures perched next to a patterned coffee pot, holding spoons and forks in their beaks. Ages 4–7. [em](Mar.) [/em]