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Kindergarten-Grade 4-A visually appealing selection of 61 fables that mixes the well known ("The Fox and the Grapes," "The Tortoise and the Hare") with some that have been nearly forgotten ("The Mermaid and the Woodcutter"). In tone and format, this book is reminiscent of early 20th-century Aesop collections for children. Like Arthur Rackham and Milo Winter before him, Pinkney accompanies the stories with a blend of full-page paintings and smaller illustrations. As in those earlier collections, his text uses ele-vated language and an extremely formal sentence structure. While such loftiness is appropriate for a "classic" Aesop collection, with this edition it becomes a bit of a stum-bling block. Unfortunately, Pinkney's intro-duction doesn't give a reason for the text choices or supply sources. Morals are at-tached to each fable and for the most part they are the time-honoured ones. Using a mix of watercolour and coloured pencil, Pinkney's illustrations of animal characters are fairly realistic while his depictions of humans lean toward the stylized. The artist's masterful use of watercolour is most evident in his pictures of the animals. Highlights include the dou-ble-page spread that accompanies "The Lion and the Mouse" and the full-page illustration for "The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse." While the narrative style occasion-ally gets in the way of sharing aloud and its tone is sometimes at odds with the more re-laxed tone of the art, this handsome title is still one of the best of the current crop.
Denise Anton Wright, Alliance Library System, Bloomington, IL
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