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The Classic Treasury of Aesop’s Fables

Illustrated by Don Daily

This is a wonderful collection of some of Aesop’s most famous fables. These stories have been told and retold over the ages and have become familiar fables to many children.

Aesop is a man clouded in mystery and his true origins have been lost in time. He has said to come from all over the world, from Rome and Greece to India, and he has even popped up in parts of Africa. The closest anyone has come to pin-pointing his true identity, is that he was probably from Greece and that he was born around 620 and 560 B.C. Some say he was one of the Seven Sages of the ancients, and others say that he was an advisor to and an ambassador for King Croesus, the last king of Asia Minor.

The history of Aesop and the wonder of the ancient world, I feel is part of the attraction of these fables. These aspects of the book and the author could be brilliantly linked into history and geography as cross curricular bridges when reading these stories to children.

Each story puts various animals into bizarre situations that mirror real life circumstances and in turn teach valuable truths and impart moral lessons to the children. This I feel is the core value of the book. The fables are accessible to children through its inventive use of animals within the stories which will in turn help to ignite their imaginations. This is coupled with vivid illustrations from Don Daily, who has done a huge variety of work in children’s literature, from “The Classic Tales of Brer Rabbit” to the “Jungle Book”, further the appeal of the book.

Another aspect of the book that I love is that at the end of each fable is an explanation of the moral value of the story. These stories will provide endless opportunities for discussion within the classroom as well as being valuable lessons we can all live by.

Within this collection some of Aesop’s most notable fables are “The Crow and the Pitcher”, “The Goose Who Laid the Golden Eggs” and “The Tortoise and the Hare”.

In the “Crow and The Pitcher”, we see a crow who has worked out if he puts stones into a pitcher, he will be able to displace the water and finally be able to drink it. Showing that “With a little planning you can gain what at first seems impossible”. This fable could be incorporated into a lesson about volume. By bringing in a pitcher and some pebbles it could really help to illustrate the concept of volume and displacement.

The fable “The Goose Who Laid the Golden Eggs” is a classic story of greed destroying the source of good, whereas “The Tortoise and The Hare” shows that “slow and steady wins the race”.

Some of these fables are really short, and can be used well at the beginning and at the end of sessions, while others are a few pages long. The language used is inventive and will help children expand their vocabulary.

One criticism of the book is that in some cases the message contained within the fables may not be appropriate for some children. For example in the “Gnat and the Bull” the moral of the story is that “the smaller the mind, the greater the conceit”. This in itself is a good lesson to learn, however smaller children may not grasp the concept.

Overall I feel this book can be used in many circumstances and across a variety of age ranges. It has plenty of learning opportunities and would therefore I feel be a great addition to any classroom’s collection.

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