________________ CM . . . . Volume XI Number 10 . . . . January 21, 2005


Little Book of Fables.

Verónica Uribe. Translated by Susan Oiriou. Illustrated by Constanza Bravo.
Toronto, ON: Groundwood, 2004.
126 pp., cloth, $9.95.
ISBN 0-88899-573-3.

Preschool-grade one / Ages 3-6.

Review by Lorraine Douglas.

**** /4


The Stag with the Beautiful Antlers

One morning a stag, drinking from a pond, saw his reflection in the water. He thought to himself, “What beautiful antlers I have. Don’t I look elegant? But my legs are a sorry sight in contrast! So spindly and bony.”

The stag was still admiring his antlers when he heard the baying of hunters’ dogs. He dashed away from the pond and ran to hide in the woods. His legs carried him swiftly and surely, but as he passed under a leafy tree, his antlers got caught in its branches.

The stag tried to free his antlers, but each time he shook his head, the more entangled he became. The dogs were closing in on him. The stag gave one last, desperate tug and managed to free himself.

Once he was in the woods and able to catch his breath, he thought, “The antlers I admired so much nearly killed me, while the legs I hated so much saved my life.”


What is truly valuable is often unappreciated.


The Little Book of Fables was first published in Spanish by Ediciones Ekare in Venezuela and the 20 fables were translated by Susan Ouriou. Veronica Uribe, a Latin American author and editor at Ediciones Ekare, selected the tales for a previous book in this series, Little Book of Fairy Tales (Groundwood, 2004). This third volume in the set follows the same elegant format, and the small size is just perfect for holding and sharing at bedtime. Readers will immediately recognize some of the 15 well-known fables by Aesop. Others by fabulists like Jean de la Fontaine and Phaedrus are not as well known but are just as fascinating. The collection includes “Country Mouse and City Mouse,” “Belling the Cat,” “The Fox and the Crow” and “The North Wind and the Sun.”

internal art

     Uribe appends a valuable guide to the fables. She describes the life of the slave Aesop who was not the first person to write fables but is the one who presented the genre in its classic form - a brief tale which teaches a lesson. She provides an excellent definition of the fables and explains that she chose the fables for their charm as amusing and popular stories.

     This lovely book is a wonder of innovative artistic design. Each fable is adorned on the top and bottom of its pages with a colour key graphic of stylized leaves and the titles are set off by a little tree matching the leaf colour. The full page opening illustrations on the verso of the page are by Constanza Bravo. They are reminiscent of Lisbeth Zwerger in their simplification of the ground and evocation of character in deft strokes. The greedy fox of “The Fox and the Crow” pops right off the page in his red body suit and upswept smacking tongue set against a bright yellow background. These sunny colours and the fresh style make each fable a visual delight. The moral of each tale is set in small print at the very end.

     This is an excellent resource for children’s literature students and would be popular in school and public libraries.

Highly Recommended.

Lorraine Douglas is an artist and writer living in Winnipeg, MB. In her public library career as a children’s librarian, she often used fables in puppet shows at story times for preschoolers.

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

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