Paxton and Rayevsky are on a roll--in their fourth joint venture they return once again to Aesop territory, putting their unique spin on 10 more of the master's fables. Some of the stories in this collection are familiar, such as ``Birds of a Feather'' and ``The Pot Calls the Kettle Black''; others are more obscure, but all feature stock characters from Aesop--braggarts who get their comeuppance, pranksters who are outfoxed--as well as such timeless wisdom as the value of kindness, the importance of sharing, and the fact that verbal persuasion is always better than physical force. Singer-songwriter Paxton's spirited verse is delicious as always, especially the neat couplets that sum up the moral of each story (``One can't go wrong if one believes / There is no honor among thieves''). And Rayevsky's sly, punk-modern illustrations, with their distinctive long, lean lines and occasional dark undertones of ferocious humor, make this the ultimate Aesop for the '90s. Ages 4-up. (Apr.)
Outrageous caricatures and fables told in tongue tripping verse make this masterful version a perfect choice. Penned by a singer-songwriter, the stories come alive with oral reading, full of lively repetition and wit. There are ten fables in the collection, all memorable, all replete with mischievous animals, character imperfections and lessons for life.
Gr 1-3-- This most recent collection by the popular team ( Aesop's Fables 1988; Belling the Cat and Other Aesop's Fables 1990; and Androcles and the Lion and Other Aesop's Fables 1991; all Morrow) is not entirely successful. Among the 10 retellings in verse are several that will be familiar to most readers: ``The Wind and the Sun,'' ``The Frogs Choose a King,'' and ``The Laborer and the Nightingale.'' The verses are jaunty and, for the most part, free of difficult rhyme schemes; as with the earlier books, morals are affixed to each tale. Rayevsky's accompanying illustrations feature a dizzying array of locations: an Old West landscape, a commedia dell'arte stage, and a contemporary poker game. Adding to the visual confusion is the mind-boggling mixture of media and styles. In addition to pen-and-ink with watercolor washes, he also utilizes chalk pastel drawings on colored paper and acrylic paintings with touches of wax crayon. Any of these techniques is intriguing on its own, but all three together disrupt the visual flow. The depiction of the characters is also inconsistent; in one place a lion has a paw while in another spot, a similar lion has a human hand. The illustrations work against each other and against the selections, making it difficult to imagine an audience for this book. --Denise Anton Wright, Illinois State University, Normal
As did Paxton and Rayevsky's three earlier books of Aesop's fables, this volume has a sophisticated look despite its picture book format. Most of the 10 fables retold here are not widely known, although some children may remember "The Wind and the Sun" from picture book versions. The cast of characters is eclectic: here a medieval peasant, there a cowboy, and, often, animals appearing in dandified dress. Paxton's rhymed verse tells the tales succinctly and sometimes wittily, making even the morals palatable in context. Rayevsky's full-color illustrations use graceful, elongated figures to play out the little dramas. Not a childlike version, but a picture book that older children might find intriguing.