Children's Favorite Animal Fables

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Percy, Graham
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Research Projects
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I stumbled over the single remaining copy of this large-formatted (10 x 12½) book in Barnes and Noble on a Saturday morning stroll. It gathers together the eight small books that Percy published with Henry Holt in 1993. The place of publication remains Singapore. In 2000 David Bennett Books apparently published a large-formatted version in the UK. This edition is ©Barnes & Noble 2002. I am surprised to find the introduction (The Story of the Fable) listing and explaining the moral of each fable. Half of the fables (BC, TMCM, FC, and The Heron and the Fish) change their morals and three (TH, FS, and TMCM) their titles. In TH, The hare is a perpetual boaster who picks out the tortoise as someone to sneer at. The course here is a lake, and a field mouse is the referee. The tone of GA is not resolved to my satisfaction. Lots of sympathy goes here to the ant, apparently a single parent, who works hard for her children. Her home is a cozy paradise in winter, stocked with the food she has gathered and the blankets she has woven. The lazy grasshopper is turned away completely, and the ant teaches her children this strange moral: Always save for a rainy day. FS loses several elements from its earlier version. The fox here is a practical joker. Ms. Stork buys a new dress for the occasion and shows off her long neck with the strands of a pearl necklace. The Cat and the Mice starts with a wonderful picture of the large family of mice not peaceful and happy. They fear the cat prowling just outside their little country home. There is a wealth of anthropomorphic detail here in the description of the mouse family's life. They eat eggs for breakfast, the children practice the piano, and the father smokes a pipe. Mother mouse gets the bright idea. Grandmother mouse puts it down. In TMCM, the city mouse stays a few days in the country before he starts complaining. In the city, he reclines wonderfully in a cake stand. At the end there is a clever introduction to the moral: Write something for me to remember you by. What the country mouse writes in this version differs from what he wrote in the 1993 edition. There he wrote Pleasure that comes at such a cost is no pleasure at all, but here A quiet and safe life is better than a luxurious but fearful one. Is this an improvement? The vain crow in FC goes right into the kitchen to get the cheese. The moral is delivered by one watching sparrow to another. LM starts with a great picture of the mouse in babushka hurrying home with a stalk of wheat for her children. She rests for five minutes on what she thinks is a brown tree stump. The children make a good factor for her appeal. There is good realism in her remark after being released I might be able to help you someday. To get the lion free, she has to gnaw all night and half the next day. The Heron and the Fish uses the late afternoon hours to mark the progress from perch to trout to minnows to carp to a snail. The fish point their fins and giggle and gurgle at the heron's pathetic supper. The good moral comes from a wise frog bystander: Folk who are too choosy often miss out altogether. The black-and-white silhouettes now join small colored illustrations in framing the text pages on the left, which face full-page colored illustrations magnified from the smaller books. Each story has six of these giant illustrations on its right-hand pages. Percy's work is able to survive the magnification. The book suffers from cheap production. The folding hinges around its spine are weak, and the pages are starting to protrude beyond the covers.
Barnes & Noble Books
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