Aesop's Fables

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1985
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Little Aesop, perhaps ten years old, likes mischief, like tying together dogs' tails. He himself tries the "Wolf!" trick when he starts his first job as a shepherd. The wolf chases him into a dark woods, where he falls through a hole into a new world. There he meets Skitter the Country Mouse, Silkwing the Flower Elf, and Hayhee the ass. Their adventures include an invitation to a City Mouse meal, where the master of the house is a cat. As the three travel, they run into a tortoise and hare arguing. The three soon get work along the way delivering salt; Hayhee's second load is cotton. They meet a fiddling grasshopper who entertains the whole pondside, all of whom join in ridiculing the ants who keep chanting "No time, no time!" Hayhee finds a lion's skin and plays dead when a bear approaches the foursome. In winter, the ants accept an apology and give the travelers food and warm clothing and send them on their way across Terror Mountain, where Winter becomes the North Wind and Spring becomes the Sun to play out a bet. Spring gives Aesop storytelling power and brings him home. As Silkwing reminds Aesop on arriving back home, the animals back here cannot talk. She has lost her wings and will live with him forever. There is a clever attempt here to weave a number of fables into a continuous narrative. Part of the price is to make Aesop into a small boy who, with friends, needs to learn lessons before he can return to his mother. I enjoy the attempt, though I am sorry to see fables turned into a fairy tale. The prose on the slipcases of the extra copies has little Aesop meeting not a Flower Elf but a Flower Elk. That kind of mistake makes me wonder about the claim "Duplicated, Packaged and Printed in USA.
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