Gr 1-5 -Each of these eight fables is presented in a two-part format. The first part consists of a wordy introduction in which "Aesop" explains the meaning and possible context of the tale and relates it to his own life as a freed Athenian slave. Several of the selections, such as "The Frogs That Wanted a King" and "The Jay and the Peacocks," are not often anthologized. Each telling contains descriptions of the setting, extensive dialogue, and rounded-out motivation. Unfortunately, the resulting long-windedness violates the pithiness of the genre. "The Lion and the Mouse" comes in at over eight pages. The preface makes clear what advice the ensuing selection will impart; the final paragraph of the narrative emphasizes the upcoming lesson, and a neatly framed moral is appended. This triple treatment leaves nothing to chance or children's ability to interpret meaning. However, Johnson's richly toned paintings in a pleasing variety of shapes grace the pages with lively animal and human activity. Three times as many fables in a quarter of the words appear in Verónica Uribe's Little Book of Fables (Groundwood, 2004), while Helen Ward's grand retelling of a dozen tales in Unwitting Wisdom (Chronicle, 2004) features more subtly designed illustrations that embellish the stories' content.-Susan Hepler, Burgundy Farm Country Day School, Alexandria, VA[Page 119]. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.