by Arnold Lobel

Scholastic, 1980

42 pp.

Age: 6+

Self-reading age: 8+

Interests: folktales/fables, animals

Also by this author: Frog and Toad books, Grasshopper on the Road, Mouse Tales, Owl at Home

Next: Aesop’s Fables

A series of original fables, written in the style of the old Aesop stories, each only one page long and followed by a simple moral.

The Frog and Toad books are delightful enough, but it wasn’t until I read Grasshopper on the Road and Mouse Tales that I really began to appreciate the quietly philosophical Arnold Lobel. I was eager to read his Caldecott-winning Fables and it didn’t disappoint. These stories are more accessible than Aesop, with more humour and personality, and teach lessons useful for all ages. From the crocodile who prefers the flowers on his wallpaper to the unruly posies in the garden, to the poor bear pictured on the cover, who foolishly follows a crow’s advice about fashion, these animals are ridiculous and amusing, and yet retain – thanks to the illustrations – tremendous grace and dignity. Even Madame Rhino in her ridiculous dress is monumental, and the camel who fancies herself a ballet dancer is absolutely sublime. And bear, again, in his paper bags and frying pan hits such a note of pathos, he’s strangely moving. (I just adore these illustrations, can you tell? And I haven’t even told you about the ostrich in love! Or the hippo at dinner!)

NB. There is one story in which three frogs meet an unhappy fate, which might displease preschoolers enamoured of the Frog in Frog and Toad…

Extremely original and well-written fables are profound and thought-provoking, and the illustrations are wonderful. Highly recommended.

(This title at amazon.com)


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All writings posted here are © Kim Thompson, unless otherwise indicated. For all artwork on this site, copyright is retained by the artist.
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