Jean de La Fontaine: Les Plus Belles Fables

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La Fontaine, Jean de
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This book is almost identical with another in the collection published by the same press and the same artist a year earlier. What has changed? The cover color and illustration -- from FS to TH -- and the ISBN number. The surprise for me in investigating the difference is that there is now a third book published in 2014 by the same publisher and artist with yet a different cover and ISBN number! As I wrote of the 2010 edition, this is the latest in a long line of lovely illustrated French editions of fables for children. Contemporary technology and artistic ability combine for pictures that are colorful and exact. It all starts with a cover that offers a lively scene of tortoise and hare, clothed and gendered, walking along a path by a field. Forty fables receive one-to-three fine illustrations each. One of my favorites is "The Stag and the Pool" (20-21); this illustration spreads beautifully across two pages. In "The Lion Become Old" (40-41), the ass is climbing onto the lion's body to deliver his insulting blow. AD has a whimsical illustration in which the ant is riding like a horseback rider on the dove (45). I will answer my own earlier question now: The illustration on 71 belongs to the present fable, "The Spider and the Swallow" but carries over the mosquito from the preceding fable, "The Lion and the Mosquito." Another favorite of mine shows the weasel and rabbit pleading all sorts of logic before the bespectacled cat (88). Little do they realize that they are both about to get eaten! Let me mention two last favorites. A two-page spread suggests the maliciousness of the frog in FM as he is about to plunge the rat into the water (114-15); the final page shows the scene from above as the hawk carries both away. My impression is that Salembier has borrowed heavily from French illustration history and used other people's framing of scenes as she has created her own realization within that framing.
Éditions Hemma
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