Reviews for Aesop's Fables
Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 December 2000
Gr. 2-4. An acclaimed illustrator has set himself an ambitious task: retelling and visually reinterpreting 60 of Aesop's traditional tales. And he has succeeded brilliantly, bringing vivid new life to these ancient fables by creating pencil, colored pencil, and watercolor illustrations that are subtle and delicate in color but dynamic and dramatic in composition and in size. Pinkney is particularly successful at investing his animal characters with personality and panache, but his human characters also come alive on the page. Beginning with the illustrated endpapers, every page of this beautifully designed, lavish book is a delight for the eye and an invitation to the imagination. Happily, Pinkney's text proves equal to his art. His language, though formal, is subtly witty and begs to be read aloud, a fitting tribute to the oral tradition of the tales themselves. This first-rate edition is as artful, witty, and wise as old Aesop himself, and it will also stand the test of time. --Michael Cart Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews
Horn Book Guide Reviews 2001 Spring
Here is the quintessential Aesop, lovingly retold in a contemporary yet timeless style embellished with a profusion of glorious illustrations. The text, sixty-one fables in all, begs to be read aloud; the pictures transport the audience into a different world, magical yet firmly grounded in reality. The whole is an exemplary model of bookmaking--and one destined to become a favorite version of these tales. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Guide Reviews
Horn Book Magazine Reviews 2001 #1
Here is the quintessential Aesop, lovingly retold in a contemporary yet timeless style embellished with a profusion of glorious illustrations. There are sixty-one fables in all, including such favorites as "The Grasshopper and the Ants," "The North Wind and the Sun," "The Lion and the Mouse," and "Belling the Cat." Less familiar are "The Donkey and the Lapdog" and "The Boasting Traveler"-a short, pithy account of a man's attempt to impress the home folks by boasting of his feats in foreign parts (the conclusion, a request to repeat one for local viewing, is worthy of Mark Twain). The fables have become part of the great cauldron of story, which Pinkney acknowledges in his introduction: "Motifs from many of them occur in the storytelling traditions of a variety of cultures-proof of the universality of the themes and lessons of these tales." But never have those themes been better interpreted than by Jerry Pinkney. The text begs to be read aloud; the pictures transport the audience into a different world, magical yet firmly grounded in reality-as in the illustration for "The Shepherd Boy and the Wolf," which depicts the boy fleeing from the wolf's menacing shadow rather than from the animal itself, a subtle, effective commentary on the appended moral. And who could resist the bemused rustics as they contemplate killing the goose that laid golden eggs? Some of the animals are nattily dressed, underscoring the fact that the tales are more about human foibles than animal behavior. But Pinkney is unrivaled in his ability to suggest texture of fur, feathers, and clothing and in capturing the expressions and stance of his subjects. His line is fluid and expressive, delicate yet authoritative; the colors are muted yet compelling. The whole is an exemplary model of bookmaking-and one destined to become a favorite version of these tales. Copyright 2001 Horn Book Magazine Reviews
Kirkus Reviews 2000 October #1
Gracing 61 fables from Aesop, or at least in the Aesopian tradition, Pinkney's watercolors display both masterful draftsmanship and an uncommonly keen eye for natural detail. In these oversized portraits, every tuft, feather, and whisker on his animals look right and real--as do the hats and scarves that many of them sport, their expressive body language, and the clever or foolish looks on the faces of his human characters. Though some of the morals are moot ("Notoriety is not fame") or may need explaining to younger readers ("Pride goes before a fall"), the stories themselves are timelessly clear and pithy, retold in formal, but never stiff, prose. Pinkney has added plenty of less familiar episodes to the usual chestnuts, making this not only at least ashandsome as Doris Orgel's The Lion and the Mouse, and Other Aesop's Fables, illustrated by Bert Kitchen (p. 1361), but far more extensive. Whether Aesop is a complete stranger to them or an old friend, young readers will be enthralled by this eye-opening, and jaw-dropping, achievement. A masterpiece. (Fables. 5-10) Copyright 2000 Kirkus Reviews
Library Talk Reviews 2001 January
These fables have been used for centuries to tell of the virtues and failings of humanity. The universality of their themes continues to make these tales both enjoyable and instructive. Hidden inside each fast-paced and colorful story is a kernel of truth that can be conveyed to even the smallest children. This collection includes some of both the famous and the lesser-known fables, and is richly illustrated with beautiful watercolor paintings of the characters. Each of the 61 tales covers an important life lesson, such as "Look before you leap" and "Those who want everything may end up with nothing." The lesson or moral at the end of each fable is summarized in one sentence, in the traditional style, making the stories excellent tools for educating children about some of "life's big lessons." The timelessness of the fables, combined with the beautiful illustrations, will appeal to adults and children, and make this volume an excellent addition to any library collection. Recommended. Heather Hepler, University of Maine at Machias © 2001 Linworth Publishing, Inc.
Publishers Weekly Reviews 2000 August #2
Beautifully designed, this lush, oversize volume showcases Pinkney's (The Ugly Duckling) artistry in grand style. There's a king's ransom worth of material here, as Pinkney serves up more than 60 of the ancient Greek slave-philosopher's fables. Aesop's wisdom spills across the pages as freely as Pinkney's glorious watercolors, alight with the many creatures who people the tales, from fiddling grasshoppers and diligent ants to wily foxes, clever crows, brave mice and grateful lions. Each of the vigorous retellings concludes with the kind of succinct moral that centuries of readers have come to expect (e.g., "Don't count your chickens before they're hatched"; "You are judged by the company you keep"). And whether the homilies concern a wolf in sheep's clothing or sour grapes, the timeless virtues resonate as freshly as the day they were minted. Pinkney brings his considerable talent to bear on everything from thumbnail animal portraits to sweeping full-page vistas of hearth and woodlands, and his detail, delicacy of line and subtle palette create an elegant foil for the simple parables. If there's room on the shelf for only one picture book version of Aesop, this could be it. All ages. (Oct.) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information. #
School Library Journal Reviews 2000 October
K-Gr 4-A visually appealing selection of 61 fables that mixes the well known ("The Fox and the Grapes," "The Tortoise and the Hare") with some that have been nearly forgotten ("The Mermaid and the Woodcutter"). In tone and format, this book is reminiscent of early 20th-century Aesop collections for children. Like Arthur Rackham and Milo Winter before him, Pinkney accompanies the stories with a blend of full-page paintings and smaller illustrations. As in those earlier collections, his text uses ele-vated language and an extremely formal sentence structure. While such loftiness is appropriate for a "classic" Aesop collection, with this edition it becomes a bit of a stum-bling block. Unfortunately, Pinkney's intro-duction doesn't give a reason for the text choices or supply sources. Morals are at-tached to each fable and for the most part they are the time-honored ones. Using a mix of watercolor and colored pencil, Pinkney's illustrations of animal characters are fairly realistic while his depictions of humans lean toward the stylized. The artist's masterful use of watercolor is most evident in his pictures of the animals. Highlights include the dou-ble-page spread that accompanies "The Lion and the Mouse" and the full-page illustration for "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse." While the narrative style occasion-ally gets in the way of sharing aloud and its tone is sometimes at odds with the more re-laxed tone of the art, this handsome title is still one of the best of the current crop.-Denise Anton Wright, Alliance Library System, Bloomington, IL Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.