Unwitting Wisdom: An Anthology of Aesop's Fables

Unwitting Wisdom: An Anthology of Aesop's Fables

by Helen Ward, Chronicle Books, Aesop
     
 

For over 2,500 years the simple stories and wry humor of Aesop's fables have entertained children and adults alike. Their lessons have seeped into the very fabric of our language, as evidenced by expressions such as "sour grapes" and "a wolf in sheep's clothing."
Through the centuries many artists have risen to the challenge of interpreting their favorite tales.… See more details below

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Overview

For over 2,500 years the simple stories and wry humor of Aesop's fables have entertained children and adults alike. Their lessons have seeped into the very fabric of our language, as evidenced by expressions such as "sour grapes" and "a wolf in sheep's clothing."
Through the centuries many artists have risen to the challenge of interpreting their favorite tales. In this magnificent edition, award-winning illustrator Helen Ward has chosen a dozen of her favorite fables, painstakingly creating with words and breathtaking watercolors a dazzling new collection destined to become a classic.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
" there's so much to savor in this handsome presentation. Adults will love the sumptuous look of it, and teachers and storytellers will find many uses for this appreciative rendering of Aesop." --School Library Journal
Publishers Weekly
The Moral of the Story... New compilations feature classic rhymes, fables and folklore retold. Illustrator Helen Ward contributes pithy retellings and breathtakingly detailed watercolor-and-ink illustrations to Unwitting Wisdom: An Anthology of Aesop's Fables. The tales star the Greek's familiar cast of animals, paired with text that changes font size (for storytelling assistance). An aerial view places delectable looking grapes in the foreground as a fox gazes longingly at the unreachable fruit in "Sour Grapes." In the classic race, an enormous hare bounds through a meadow on the fable's title page; two spreads later, past beds of wildflowers, the tortoise plods to victory. (Sept.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Children's Literature
Why another version of Aesop, even one retelling a dozen more and less well-known tales in richly eloquent prose? Because this is also a truly elegant art object. On the large double pages, which integrate calligraphy, text, and intriguing ink and watercolor pictures of animals and plants, we are treated to fresh emotional responses to old stories. For each the spread with the title and beautifully designed illustration is followed by the story on a spread with added vignette or more and, of course, the moral. The splendid jackdaw, for example, is littered with a glorious hodgepodge of feathers, so many that they flutter in and around the paragraphs of text. And what a bewitching display of decorated pseudo-Greek pitchers the bird sets out for the frustrated fox! Ward's realism and subtle sense of design envision a world that matches the comfortable words in her psychologically introspective short stories. Don't bypass the end papers. There are also interesting notes on Aesop and on Ward. 2004, Chronicle Books, Ages 4 up.
—Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
School Library Journal
Gr 3-6-Familiar entries from Aesop are extravagantly extended in this stunning, oversized compendium. The tortoise and hare gracing the cover appeared in Ward's The Hare and the Tortoise (Millbrook, 1999). This fable is presented afresh along with 11 others, each introduced with a two-page scene that visually and verbally sums up the gist of the tale. For example, "Sour Grapes" opens with the following teaser: "in which a fox tries to hide his disappointment with insults." Beautifully rendered in pen and watercolor, the illustrations incorporate cunning details and offer viewers a nice anticipation of characters and outcomes. Next, two pages of text spin out the story in expansive description, building on the spare tellings of traditional Aesop. Ward emphasizes the lessons in the denouement of each offering followed by the customary pithy statement of the moral. Her language blends formal, even florid, phrases with jocular observations and some colloquial quips. "The hare liked nothing better than impressing the general population with his speed. `I am the master of faster,' was how he so irritatingly put it." Though the volume is rather large and imposing for comfortable personal reading, there's much to savor in this handsome presentation. Adults will love the sumptuous look of it, and teachers and storytellers will find many uses for this appreciative rendering of Aesop.-Margaret Bush, Simmons College, Boston Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
The title of this overblown exercise is just wrong: whoever Aesop was, that teller was deeply aware of the wisdom in the fables. Ward allows readers to feel superior while hammering home in a most unsubtle way each moral of these tales. For example, in "Steady and Slow," she retells the tortoise and the hare with an emphasis on the irritating qualities of the hare ("the master of faster") and lingers over his ultimate humiliation: "There was still a good chance that someday he would end up testing . . . the sharpness of a crocodile's teeth." She does have a precise and elegant hand with watercolor and ink, often placing her images on white backgrounds to manipulate negative space on oversized pages. Twelve tales, including the fox and the grapes, the wolf in sheep's clothing, and the lion and the mouse, preach loudly and clearly at young people. One might hope they might be too distracted by the visuals and spidery lacewing fonts to notice. Turning the perfectly simple into the ostentatious, Ward has forgotten that "fine feathers do not make fine birds." (Picture book/folktales. 7-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780811844505
Publisher:
Chronicle Books LLC
Publication date:
08/05/2004
Pages:
64
Product dimensions:
10.12(w) x 12.62(h) x 0.62(d)
Age Range:
4 - 8 Years

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