Reviews for Aesop's Fables


Booklist Reviews 2003 December #1
K-Gr. 3. Aesop's fables have been retold for centuries, and there's no end in sight. Sneed offers 15 retellings (the sixteenth, the "Tortoise and the Hare," is wordless) in sometimes jarringly contemporary language but keeps the classic morals at the end of each. The lazy grasshopper tells the ants to "Take a load off," and the rooster soon to become the eagle's lunch cries, "What?! Nobody wants a piece of me?" Each fable is a double-page, full-bleed spread, and the text is brief, a few paragraphs at most. Watercolor, colored pencil, and acrylic paintings are fully realized; the animals are depicted in surreal detail but with exaggeratedly human expressions. Note the supercilious grin on the face of the fox, who is flattering the crow into dropping the cheese in its beak. Not as elegant as Doris Orgel's The Lion and the Mouse and Other Aesop's Fables (2000) but not as serious either. ((Reviewed December 1, 2003)) Copyright 2003 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 2004 Spring
These fifteen retellings of Aesop's fables feature language that is sometimes jarringly colloquial: e.g., in ""The Fox and the Crow,"" the fox greets the crow with the line, ""Hey, good-lookin', what's a beautiful chick like you doing in a dangerous forest like this?"" Nevertheless, the animals--realistically rendered and portrayed from a variety of intriguing perspectives--perfectly embody the foibles of human nature. Copyright 2004 Horn Book Guide Reviews.

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Kirkus Reviews 2003 September #2
A wordless rendition of "The Tortoise and the Hare" on covers, endpapers, and title spread surrounds 15 more retold fables, with morals appended. Sneed mixes such usual suspects as "Town Mouse and the Country Mouse," "Ant and the Grasshopper," and "Belling the Cat" with less-familiar tales of creatures canny or otherwise, such as "The Tortoise and the Eagle" and "The Caged Bird and the Bat." He renders each in a breezy vernacular-"Listen up, everyone, this is Jupiter, Supreme Being, Head Honcho, Ruler of All Things. I have an important announcement for my fine feathered citizens"-that just suits his spread-filling close-ups of dismayed or triumphant-looking crows, foxes, mice, insects, and roosters. Aesops abound, but few present the Lessons with such pervasive lightheartedness-and Sneed keeps any violence in the tales far-offstage. (Folktales. 6-8) Copyright Kirkus 2003 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 2003 October #4
Up-close-and-personal caricatures of anthropomorphic animals dominate Sneed's (Sorry; Picture a Letter) volume of fables, creating what can sometimes be an unnerving sense of scale. In the cover art, for example, the audience shares the perspective of a grasshopper referee, who is about to wave the flag to start a legendary race between a nearly life-size jackrabbit, grinning cheekily, and a determined but friendly looking tortoise. Within, similarly large-scale pictures illustrate 15 fables, one to a spread, each ending with a stern aphorism. A boastful rooster is caught by an eagle ("Pride goes before a fall"); the detailed image of the rooster makes the knowledge that the "juicy piece of chicken" is about to become the eagle's "lunch" somewhat hard to bear. Elsewhere, a "smirking" bat laughs at a belatedly cautious caged bird ("An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure"). To trick a crow into dropping a hunk of cheese, a flirty fox uses a series of retrograde lines: "Hey, good-lookin', what's a beautiful chick like you doing in a dangerous forest like this?" As the fox grins obsequiously, the crow succumbs ("Flatterers are not to be trusted") and the fox's chicanery is rewarded: "But he had a mouthful of cheese!" Readers looking for more nuanced views of Aesop's fables should consider Toni and Slade Morrison's Who's Got Game? books; Sneed's retellings tend toward the message "I told you so." Ages 4-8. (Sept.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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School Library Journal Reviews 2003 November
Gr 2-5-Sneed has chosen 15 tales to retell and illustrate. The art, done in watercolor, colored pencil, and acrylic, is a standout. The animals, while realistically proportioned, are endowed with the character and personality that connect them to the human foibles that the tales illuminate. The palette is both varied and vibrant, and the artist has posed his creatures in a range of inventive yet possible positions. The text, however, is not as impressive. The use of colloquialisms in the dialogue-"golly," "holy cow," etc.-seems at odds with the more formal language of the narratives. Libraries who have invested in Jerry Pinkney's Aesop's Fables (SeaStar, 2000), which features 60 tales and has a better meld of text and illustration, may consider this an additional purchase.-Grace Oliff, Ann Blanche Smith School, Hillsdale, NJ Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

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