Fox Tails: Four Fables from Aesop

Overview

Four classic fables are artfully woven together to make a single story in this lushly illustrated picture book. The fables of "The Fox and the Grapes," "The Fox and the Crow," "The Fox and the Goat," and "The Fox and the Stork" all come together to make an unusually eventful day for a tricky fox who is not quite as clever as he imagines.

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Overview

Four classic fables are artfully woven together to make a single story in this lushly illustrated picture book. The fables of "The Fox and the Grapes," "The Fox and the Crow," "The Fox and the Goat," and "The Fox and the Stork" all come together to make an unusually eventful day for a tricky fox who is not quite as clever as he imagines.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Lowry (The Pea Blossom) combines four fables into one seamless story about a pesky fox and his animal acquaintances. Mr. Fox starts the day with an empty fridge and a hankering for grapes. Try as he might, he cannot reach a dangling cluster, so he proclaims the grapes sour and cons a crow out of her cheese instead. After this victory, "the fox was so busy congratulating himself" that he falls into a well. To escape, he tricks a thirsty goat into serving as his stepladder, chuckling at its misfortune. Fed up with Mr. Fox's unkindness, the goat and crow "seek revenge" and meet a stork who has her own beef with the trickster. Lowry draws homespun gouache-and-pencil pictures on expansive white backgrounds. Her graceful illustrations introduce the humanlike animal characters without overpowering the foundational fables, and amiable details—like a portrait at the stork's house of her with an infant—supply mild humor. An unassuming author's note provides concise morals to the stories and pictures the stork, crow, and goat sharing a grin about Mr. Fox. Everyone emerges unscathed but wiser in this easygoing retelling. Ages 4–8. (Feb.)
Children's Literature - Elizabeth Fronk
Fox has an empty stomach and an empty refrigerator. He remembers some grapes nearby; the grapes elude his grasp and he decides the grapes were sour anyway. As he walks along, he sees a crow with cheese. He flatters the crow and she is tricked into giving him her cheese. As the fox applauds his gain, he falls into a well. He tricks a goat to help get out of the well and heads home for a nap. The goat escapes the well and runs into crow, and both of them want to get even with the fox. A stork helps them trick the fox by inviting fox to dinner. She also invites the goat and crow. The stork serves stew in bottles with narrow necks; the fox leaves in a huff when he cannot eat his stew. The three remaining companions enjoy a good laugh. Four of Aesop's fables come together in this clever trickster tale. Detailed and sly pencil and gouache illustrations add to the story telling, as do integrated morals from Aesop's tales. At the book's end, the author gives a nice, brief summary about Aesop and each fable. Readers who know something about trickster tales can get extra humor from the illustrations; the blending of all these fables makes for a richer story that readers from second to fifth grade can appreciate. Lowry's note could also be incorporated into a social studies lesson. Reviewer: Elizabeth Fronk
School Library Journal
K-Gr 2—A fox has one busy day and gets his just deserts in this smart joining of four familiar tales: "The Fox and the Grapes," "The Fox and the Crow," The Fox and the Goat," and "The Fox and the Stork." Lowry's tone is at once contemporary and faithful to the economical Aesop accounts of the opportunistic animal. She adds small opening and concluding scenes to present a well-knit cumulative tale. The broad gouache scenes are a deft match for the narrative in simplicity and clever detail. As the fox decides the grapes are sour anyway he's watched by an unmentioned observer, the stork who will play a big role later. The fox next meets the gullible crow and later becomes so busy congratulating himself on flattering her out of her chunk of cheese that he stumbles into a stinky empty well. A passing goat is pressed into joining him and providing his escape. Readers will enjoy humorous innuendo in many scenes—the expressive frogs in the well, the shadowy animal figures in tree roots and well walls, the cookbook titles on stork's bookshelves. She's having the fox over as a supper guest and invites the crow and the goat to come and watch as she repays his bad hosting. That soup served in tall narrow jars has the crow and goat rolling on the floor in laughter and sends the angry fox stalking out the door, heading "home to bed hungry." Though incorporated in each episode, the usual moral doesn't always stand out as a lesson, but it is listed again in the author's brief closing note on Aesop. These cheerful encounters offer wide appeal for reading aloud and will be equally fun for early readers new to Aesop and those already familiar with the venerable tales.—Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston
Kirkus Reviews
Four of Aesop's familiar fables feature wily fox shamelessly tricking his fellow creatures, followed by their gleeful retaliation, strung together in one continuous if episodic narrative. First, hungry fox fails to retrieve a luscious bunch of grapes from a tree. To save his dignity, fox announces the grapes "are quite sour," proving it's "easy to scorn what you cannot get." Then, fox encounters crow with cheese in her beak. When fox cleverly asks if crows really do have amazing voices, crow opens her mouth to caw, dropping the cheese. As he gobbles crow's cheese, fox moralizes, "never trust a flatterer." In his smugness at this victory, fox stumbles into a well--and then tricks hapless goat into helping him escape. Leaving goat in the well, fox warns to "look before you leap." And finally, "one bad turn deserves another," when goat, crow and stork give fox his just deserts. Lowry cleverly incorporates the four fables into a single story sequence with each fable adding to the theme of fox's self-centered dishonesty. Pale gouache-and-pencil illustrations in muted greens, browns and greys provide a subdued, understated backdrop to fox's self-serving antics while emphasizing the very human behavior of each animal character. Four fable favorites cleverly repackaged. (author's note, morals) (Picture book. 4-8)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823424009
  • Publisher: Holiday House, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/1/2012
  • Pages: 32
  • Sales rank: 641,848
  • Age range: 4 - 7 Years
  • Product dimensions: 10.10 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.50 (d)

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