The Fabled Life of Aesop: The Extraordinary Journey and Collected Tales of the World's Greatest Storyteller
The Fabled Life of Aesop: The Extraordinary Journey and Collected Tales of the World's Greatest Storyteller

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Annotation: Illustrated by two-time Caldecott Honor winner Pamela Zagarenski, this is the only picture book not only tells the story of Aesop but includes his most child-friendly fables.
Catalog Number: #214090
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin
Copyright Date: 2020
Edition Date: 2020
Illustrator: Zagarenski, Pamela,
Pages: 63 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 1-328-58552-2 Perma-Bound: 0-7804-7885-1
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-1-328-58552-3 Perma-Bound: 978-0-7804-7885-5
Dewey: 921
LCCN: 2018052167
Dimensions: 27 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
Lendler gives depth to a collection of Aesop's fables by incorporating them into the story of their teller's life. Working off what few facts scholars have pieced together from historical legend, Lendler begins the book with a biographical account that introduces Aesop (born "a slave...around 2,500 years ago and somewhere near Greece"), who used his fables as a way of speaking in code, not only with his peers but also around slaveholders, when he was fearful of speaking too forthrightly. Thus, when asked by "his master, Xanthus" if he thought he was worthy to help in Xanthus's business ("You're clever enough to help slaves, but are you clever enough to help me?"), Aesop responded with the story of the lion and the mouse. This brief biographical section, illustrated by Zagarenski in soft, spare watercolors realistically depicting the setting, is followed by a collection of ten of the fables, lavishly illustrated with richly colored acrylics on wood panels. Returning to realistic watercolors, the book then wraps up the biographical account, culminating with Aesop's freedom from slavery, and concludes with a tribute to the lasting impact of the fables. Appended with an afterword and a bibliography. Betty Carter
Kirkus Reviews
Messages both overt and hidden in the life and preserved wisdom of an enslaved storyteller.Yes, Lendler acknowledges, Aesop's fables are generally interpreted as "simple lessons on virtue and good values," but on closer looks, "many of them are actually practical advice on how to survive in a world in which some have power and some do not." As evidence, he selects 13 to retell—most ("The Ant and the Grasshopper," "The Boy Who Cried Wolf") well known, others, such as "The Donkey and the Lapdog" and "The Lion and the Statue," less so. Some are embedded in an imagined account of Aesop's life based on legends from later centuries. In this narrative, the child of enslaved parents learns to speak "in code," impresses one master but is sold to a second, and, after some years, wins freedom at last with the story of a wolf who would rather go hungry than be collared like a dog. Zagarenski places light-skinned, delicately expressive humans and graceful animals (the latter often in anthropomorphic dress and postures) into golden-toned settings. The book is highlighted by a lyrical trio of climactic freedom scenes in which morals, titles, and lines from fables become decorative elements, swirling exuberantly through dense crowds of figures. Morals printed in gold add further sumptuous notes to the tersely rendered fables.Lovely art comes with unusual perspectives on familiar tales about lions, mice, and trickster foxes. (afterword, bibliography) (Folktales. 7-10)
Publishers Weekly
Aesop-s life as an enslaved person is centered in this framing of his classic fables. The book-s first section gently glosses Aesop-s biography (-Growing up, Aesop learned to speak differently from people who were free. Slaves had to be careful-) and describes his fables as tools to convey meaning: -He had to find a way to tell the truth without angering his master. So he spoke in code.- The second section presents a collection of classic fables themselves, told in clear, concise language--Once a hare was making fun of a tortoise for being so slow--with an italicized moral at the end: -Slow but steady wins the race.- Zagarenski-s fantastical illustrations, rendered in blues and golden tones, are full of charming incongruities finely detailed, like a cheetah in knickerbockers and vultures perched next to a patterned coffee pot, holding spoons and forks in their beaks. Ages 4-7. (Mar.)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Messages both overt and hidden in the life and preserved wisdom of an enslaved storyteller.Yes, Lendler acknowledges, Aesop's fables are generally interpreted as "simple lessons on virtue and good values," but on closer looks, "many of them are actually practical advice on how to survive in a world in which some have power and some do not." As evidence, he selects 13 to retell—most ("The Ant and the Grasshopper," "The Boy Who Cried Wolf") well known, others, such as "The Donkey and the Lapdog" and "The Lion and the Statue," less so. Some are embedded in an imagined account of Aesop's life based on legends from later centuries. In this narrative, the child of enslaved parents learns to speak "in code," impresses one master but is sold to a second, and, after some years, wins freedom at last with the story of a wolf who would rather go hungry than be collared like a dog. Zagarenski places light-skinned, delicately expressive humans and graceful animals (the latter often in anthropomorphic dress and postures) into golden-toned settings. The book is highlighted by a lyrical trio of climactic freedom scenes in which morals, titles, and lines from fables become decorative elements, swirling exuberantly through dense crowds of figures. Morals printed in gold add further sumptuous notes to the tersely rendered fables.Lovely art comes with unusual perspectives on familiar tales about lions, mice, and trickster foxes. (afterword, bibliography) (Folktales. 7-10)
Reading Level: 3.0
Interest Level: P-2

"Lovely art comes with unusual perspectives on familiar tales about lions, mice and trickster foxes." -- Kirkus, starred review "Many children are familiar with Aesop's fables but it is a fair bet that few know much about the storyteller himself...(a) beautiful volume." -- Wall Street Journal Honoring the path of a slave, this dramatic picture-book biography and concise anthology of Aesop's most child-friendly fables tells how a child born into slavery in ancient Greece found a way to speak out against injustice by using the skill and wit of his storytelling--storytelling that has survived for 2,500 years. Stunningly illustrated by two-time Caldecott Honor winner Pamela Zagarenski. The Tortoise and the Hare. The Boy Who Cried Wolf. The Fox and the Crow. Each of Aesop's stories has a lesson to tell, but Aesop's life story is perhaps the most inspiring tale of them all. Gracefully revealing the genesis of his tales, this story of Aesop shows how fables not only liberated him from captivity but spread wisdom over a millennium. This is the only children's book biography about him. Includes thirteen illustrated fables: The Lion and the Mouse, The Goose and the Golden Egg, The Fox and the Crow, Town Mouse and Country Mouse, The Ant and the Grasshopper, The Dog and the Wolf, The Lion and the Statue, The Tortoise and the Hare, The Boy Who Cried Wolf, The North Wind and the Sun, The Fox and the Grapes, The Dog and the Wolf, The Lion and the Boar.


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