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Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Fable Comics, edited by Chris Duffy. First Second, Roaring Brook Press, Macmillan. Raincoast, 2015. $22.99 ages 8 and ujp

"When I woke up in the spring,
I found these things in front of
my house.
A carrot and two pieces of coal.
Is it a special message from
Maybe it's a gift.
No, it's a snowman.
No it isn't.
It is. Or it was a snowman.
It melted when the sun shone ... "

I have told you about the two previous titles in this terrific series ... Nursery Rhyme Comics (2011) and Fairy Tale Comics (2013). They are a great way to get young readers with a penchant for graphica accustomed to some of our oldest stories and verse.

Most of the fables included in this collection were originally penned by Aesop. I was particularly interested in the ones that came from other cultures as they were new to me. Graphic renderings of these old tales are made relevant in their modern settings. There are twenty eight fables shared. The editor describes them as 'bossy stories with a message for you'.

Kids will love watching the fox try to get the grapes he so desires using a jet pack, the language of the tortoise as he boldly crosses the finish line after escaping the talons of a ravenous eagle ... 'In your face, you frikety fracking 'rabbit!', or the hilarious tale of the mouse council that comes up with the perfect plan to protect themselves from their enemy by belling it so that they will always know where that darned cat is. But, who is brave enough to place the bell around the cat's neck ... why, no one!

I like that most of the cartoonists choose to reinvent their fables in a personal way, while keeping the moral true to its original intent. The settings may change; that only adds to the appeal for their target audience ... those who love their stories to be told in graphic form. The panels are carefully drawn to assure attention, the print is easy to understand. Often funny, and certainly recognizable in form, this is a book that would make a welcome addition to both classroom and library collections. It works as an introduction to the traditional tales, or as a boldly imagined companion to them.

Read it. Then, read it again. You won't be sorry!                                                                       

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