by Elaine Magliaro
Take it easy,
Old One. Hare is
Resting beneath a willow
Of the finish line—dreaming he is champion.
It is not to be, Old One. You are wise and know
Slow and steady wins the race
FABLES IN VERSE
A Sip of Aesop
Written by Jane Yolen
Illustrated by Karen Barbour
Yolen retells thirteen fables in verse in this book that provides us with just a “sip” of the more than two hundred moralistic tales attributed to Aesop. The morals of the fables—which include The Hare and the Tortoise, The Lion and the Mouse, The Fox and the Grapes, and The Grasshopper and the Ants—are also written in rhyme. Yolen’s verses scan well and are fun to read aloud to children—especially those who are familiar with fables.
Here is an excerpt from The Mice and the Council and its moral.
The mice called a meeting
At which they all sat
Discussing the way
To get rid of their cat.
“Poison!” one cried.
(A real silly suggestion.)
Hanging and shooting
Were out of the question.
And it ends:
“Good plan,” said one old mouse,
A fine diplomat.
“But answer me—who will go
Bell that mean cat?”
To make a good plan
Is but half a solution.
How close are the words
Yolen includes a bit of information about Aesop in the back matter of the book.
Barbour’s illustrations are bright and saturated with color. They provide a fine complement to Yolen’s “fabulous” verses.
The Hare and the Tortoise and Other Fables of La Fontaine
Translated by Ranjit Bolt
Illustrated by Giselle Potter
Barefoot Books, 2006
Jean La Fontaine was a French poet who lived from 1621-1695. He is best known for the fables he wrote in a series of twelve books. He adapted his poetic tales from fables by Aesop as well as fables from the Panchatantra.
This book includes a number of familiar fables: The Hare and the Tortoise, The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse, and The Grasshopper and the Ant. It also contains some fables that are less well known: God and the Animals, The Pumpkin and the Acorn, and The Bat and the Weasels.
All the fables in the book are written in a series of rhyming couplets. Here is an excerpt from The Grasshopper and the Ant as an example:
The grasshopper had sung his song
All the delightful summer long
Instead of gathering in supplies.
Now only did he realize,
With winter coming on, that he
Could not have supper, lunch or tea!
He couldn’t find a scrap of food,
The cupboards in his larder showed
Not even one small worm or fly.
He had it, he was high and dry.
Giselle Potter’s spare, stylistic illustrations, done in gouache, serve as a fitting backdrop for the moralistic tales. They never intrude on the text; they enhance this fine compilation of translated fables in verse.
Aesop’s Fables from the University of Massachusetts
From the website: Since 1994 Professor Copper Giloth has assigned her students in Art 271, Introduction to Computing in the Fine Arts, the task of illustrating the traditional Aesop's fables alongside their own retellings of the fables in a modern setting. This collection gathers together artwork from several semesters.
Here are links to two different versions of The Hare and the Tortoise:
Animated Traditional Version of the Hare and the Tortoise (1999) Illustrated by Kit Lee
Animated Modern Version of The Hare and the Tortoise (1999) illustrated by Kit Lee
At Political Verses, I have poems from Frances Richey’s book The Warrior: A Mother’s Story of a Son at War. The post includes a video of Richey and her son speaking with Jeffrey Brown on the Online NewsHour Poetry Series.
At Blue Rose Girls, I have a poem by Jack Spicer entitled Psychoanalysis: An Elegy.
Tabatha A. Yeats has the Poetry Friday Roundup this week