Usborne Aesop's Fables

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Edwards, Linda
Milbourne, Anna
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A good rule of thumb for cataloguing books is to make a new entry for every book that is somehow new. Well, there is very little that is new about this book. I noticed, however, as I prepared to set it aside as an extra, that it sells for $16.99, while the book I already have catalogued sells for $16.95! Before we laugh too loud at printing up new dust-jackets to register a four-cent increase in the price, we should realize that this edition has the warning Not for sale outside of the USA whereas that book had the warning Not for sale in Canada. The typesetting is also different on that portion of the back cover of the dust-jacket. I will repeat my comments from the $16.95 edition. This seems to be the first book I have that was printed in Dubai. It is a large-format, heavy book of 94 pages presenting sixteen fables listed on the early T of C. Each story gets one or two partial-page colored illustrations and an appropriate ring around each two-page set of pages. There are even some full-page illustrations, as for BF (21). Milbourne's writing is lively. Thus in BW, the young shepherd sighs to himself Looking after sheep is as dull as ditchwater (6). At Zeus' wedding feast, the monkey has all the banana splits he can eat (27)! Some of the storytelling here is quite creative. How the tortoise got his shell (26) is the Greek story of the tortoise staying at home when invited to Zeus' wedding. His key line is I don't think I can be bothered (26). In FC, the crow has stolen a freshly baked pie (31). SW is told in the better form (34). How bees got their stings (74) is a transformation and expansion of the original story. Here the bees are first utterly stingless. When Zeus provides them with a sting, they begin to use it against everyone for everything. Zeus, angry, limits each bee's sting to a single occurrence, and it will cost the bee's life. For writing this good, the art, though lively and colorful, is slightly disappointing. I would have hoped for more touches like the worried expression on the hare's face in TH on 51. I cannot deny the charm of the train in which the mice ride into town in TMCM (56-57). All in all, this book represents a worthwhile contemporary addition to fable versions.
EDC Publishing
Usborne Publishing Ltd.
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