Seven Fables, Seven Truths

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Fertig, Dennis
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This book is paired in Steck-Vaughn's Pair-It Books series with Jane Goodall's A Good and True Heart. The seven fables are straight from the tradition: GA, BS, Mercury and the Woodcutter, The Horse and the Mule, SW, DA, and The Two Hunters. In this version of GA, the grasshopper has just used his fiddle to shovel through the snow, and its broken pieces now lie behind him. The grasshopper does not encounter the ants during winter; he only goes by their home, where they are enjoying themselves. At first he thinks that he will have to teach them next summer how to enjoy its pleasures; soon he realizes that he has been wrong and has nothing to teach the ants. Still hungry but wiser, Grasshopper struggled on through the deep snow as best he could (7). BS features a Black family with six children and twigs. The telling of Mercury and the Woodcutter is as good as I have encountered. In The Horse and the Mule, the horse has to carry a heavy load -- as do the woman and the mule -- but he is young and they are both older. The old woman tries to help the mule by carrying one of his sacks. In this version, the mule does not die. The horse has to carry him and his load to the village. SW is told in good fashion, as the North Wind claims I shall force the red cloak off that man's back (28). The bird-catcher in AD has a trap, not a bow or gun; that change helps the story, I think. In a clever, integrating move, Fertig has the two hunters of the last fable meet, one by one, the characters of the preceding three fables. The woodcutter knows where the lion is and offers to show them. They run away leaving their hunting gear; they wanted only to follow the lion's tracks, not to meet the lion!
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