________________ CM . . . . Volume XIX Number 41. . . .June 21, 2013


Aesop's Fables.

Michael Rosen. Illustrated by Talleen Hacikyan. Vancouver, BC: Tradewind Books, 2013. 32 pp., hardcover, $16.95. ISBN 978-1-896580-81-4.

Subject Heading:
Aesop's fables-Adaptations.

Preschool-grade 3 / Ages 4-8.

Review by Gail de Vos.

**** /4



The Axe and the Trees

The people came to the forest and spoke to the trees.

"We have invented a very useful tool," said the people. "It is called an axe. To make it work we need some wood. We need wood to make a handle. Can you help us?"

The trees talked amongst themselves.

Finally Beech Tree said, "We have talked about what you want and we have chosen Olive Tree. You need a tough, hard wood for the handle, and Olive Tree will be able to give you that."

So the people took the tough, hard wood of Olive Tree and fashioned it into a handle for their axe. Soon they were chopping away at the branches and trunks of all the other trees.

Moral: Sometimes the people who are most likely to harm you find ways to get you to help them.


This picture book collection of 13 Aesopian fables, some more familiar than others, is dramatically and vibrantly illustrated by Talleen Hacikyan and retold with vim and vigour by former UK Children's Laureate and poet, Michael Rosen. Some of the fables, authentic to their original intended adult audience, do feature a bit of killing and mayhem and may cause a pause for some intending to read these to very young children. However, like the originals, these tales demand a bit of life-experience to fully appreciate them and their morals.

internal art

     All of the morals are relevant to contemporary readers and listeners, and, while I am not overly fond of appending morals to these pithy tales, Rosen's pithy and thoughtful observations and interpretations do not detract from the stories, themselves. The illustrations are simple in their beauty and clarity. The animals and their nature are instantly indefinable. Backgrounds are fitting to the mood of the stories, with dark hues and colours dominating the full page that extends beyond the page's boundaries. These are illustrations to savour. Rosen's text rests on a full page of white facing each of the illustrations.

     While the recommended reading level from the publisher is ages 4-8, this book deserves a wider audience regardless, or perhaps, because of its format.

     Fables, in additional to the one featured above, include "Dog and Wolf", "Fox and Grapes", "Crow and Fox", "Lion, Fox and Wolf", "Wolf and Lamb", "Mouse and Lion", Frog and Bull", "Cockerel, Dog and Fox", "Mosquito, Lion and Spider", Fir Tree and Thornbush", "Partridge and the Fighting Cocks" and "Town Mouse and Country Mouse." The collection concludes with a vignette of Aesop and a concise blurb about this legendary fabulist and a recommended resource provided by Dr. J.R.C. Cousland, an Associate Professor of Classical, Near Eastern and Religious Studies at the University of British Columbia.

Highly Recommended.

Gail de Vos teaches at the School of Library and Information Studies, the University of Alberta, and is the author of nine books on storytelling and folklore.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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