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Susanna Davidson , Giuliano Ferri

Usborne Illustrated Stories from Aesop

YEAR: 2013

COUNTRY: United States of America

Cateogry icon

Title of the work

Usborne Illustrated Stories from Aesop

Country of the First Edition

Country/countries of popularity

United States; United Kingdom; other English-speaking countries

Original Language

English

First Edition Date

2013

First Edition Details

Susanna Davidson. Usborne Illustrated Stories from Aesop. Usborne Publishing Ltd., 2013, 272 pp.

ISBN

9781409598923

Genre

Fables
Myths
Picture books
Short stories

Target Audience

Children (c. 4-10)

Cover

Courtesy of Usborne Publishing Ltd.


Author of the Entry:

Sonya Nevin, University of Roehampton, sonya.nevin@roehampton.ac.uk 

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton, s.deacy@roehampton.ac.uk 

Dorota Mackenzie, University of Warsaw, dorota.mackenzie@gmail.com 

Female portrait

Susanna Davidson (Author)

Susanna Davidson is a British author of over fifty fiction and non-fiction books for children, written mostly for Usborne Publishing. Her publications include retellings of traditional myths and fairy tales, such as Cinderella (Usborne), Rapunzel (Usborne), The Story of Pegasus (Usborne), Baba Yaga the Flying Witch, and Little Red Riding Hood (Usborne). Susanna Davidson also writes children's books on religion and history, including The Story of Hannukah (Usborne), The Holocaust (Usborne), and Elizabeth I (Usborne), as well as other non-fiction titles such as Snails (Usborne), Penguins (Usborne), and Under the Ground (Usborne). Under the name "Zanna Davidson", she writes modern children's fiction, including the Fairy Ponies and Fairy Unicorns series.


Bio prepared by Sonya Nevin, University of Roehampton, sonya.nevin@roehampton.ac.uk


Male portrait

Giuliano Ferri (Illustrator)

Giuliano Ferri is an Italian freelance illustrator. He graduated from the Art Institute of Urbino, Italy, where he specialised in animation. Ferri is best known for his children's illustrations. He also works with young people in the community using animation, drama, and comic theatre to help those with disabilities.


Bio prepared by Sonya Nevin, University of Roehampton, sonya.nevin@roehampton.ac.uk


Summary

Fables attributed to Aesop were collated in antiquity by Demetrius of Phaleron, c. 300 BCE (Diogenes Laertius, 5.80), and passed on through various retellings in antiquity and the medieval, early modern, and modern periods. This publication features retellings of many of the available Aesop's Fables, divided into categories based on themes: Pride, Trickery, Greed, Quarrels, Friendship, Cunning, and Retorts. This arrangement encourages the reader to be conscious of the messages within the stories, particularly their moral themes. Some of these classifications are a little more forced than others (The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse is not 'about' friendship in any meaningful sense, for example, rather than simply being a story that features friends), but they all essentially make sense. The titles included are:


Pride:

The Fox and the Crow

The Peacock and the Crane

The Hare and the Tortoise

The Eagle, the Jackdaw and the Shepherd

The Fox and the Grapes

King of the Birds


Trickery:

The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

The Cat and the Hens

The Lion and the Fox

The Cat and the Mice

The Wolf and the Heron


Greed:

The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs

The Fox in the Tree

The Dog and the Bone


Quarrels:

The Sun and the Wind

The Lion and the Statue

The Fox and the Stork

The Lion and the Wild Boar


Friendship:

The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

The Ant and the Dove

The Explorers and the Bear

The Lion and the Mouse


Cunning:

The Crow and the Jug

The Fox and the Billy Goat

Belling the Cat

The Dog on the Roof


Retorts:

The Piglet and the Sheep

The Lioness and the Vixen

The Fox and the Rooster

The Fir Tree and the Bramble

The Crab and its Mother


Comeuppance:

The Tortoise and the Eagle

The Ant and the Grasshopper

The Boy who Cried Wolf

Zeus and the Tortoise


About the stories.


The stories all conclude with an explicitly stated moral (captioned 'Moral'); this follows the medieval tradition of applying moral epilogues to the fables.

Analysis

Each story in this collection features a title illustration and one full page illustration; most contain further small illustrations, although there are some double-pages without any illustration. The illustrations situate the stories in a variety of locations and time-periods, although most appear to be set in Northern Europe, as indicated by the extensive use of rich green grassy environments and traditional Northern European architecture. Atypically, in The Lion and the Fox, reference to antelope, warthog, buffalo, zebra, and wildebeest place the story in Africa, while The Lion and the Wild Boar is also situated in Africa through the depiction of an elephant, giraffe, rhino, antelope, and a savannah landscape. This is a change from the ancient tradition, which would be referring to the European lion, with the story situated in southern Europe; the change makes the story more comprehensible to a modern readership living in an age in which the European lion is largely extinct and African lions more familiar. The emphasis on Northern Europe creates the impression that these stories originated in or are drawn from Northern Europe. This diminishes the sense of a specifically Greek origin, presumably targeting a Northern European market of readers who see their own environment reflected in the stories, rather than being transported by the stories to a different country. The inclusion of the African setting adds diversity and the implication that the stories have resonance beyond Europe, although this element is limited by its rarity.

Items such as electric lamps place some of the stories in the twenty to twenty-first centuries, while others depict figures in medieval or Victorian clothing. The main indication of antiquity comes from the figure of Zeus, who appears in two of the stories, King of the Birds and Zeus and the Tortoise. In both he is referred to as 'Zeus' (rather than e.g. Jupiter). He is depicted as an older white man with white hair and beard, and with accessories that indicate antiquity: laurel wreath, gold bracelets, and his symbol, the lightning bolt (p.46). In both images he is dressed in white robes. The other indicator of antiquity in the book is a two-page About the stories at the end. This section is aimed at young readers (rather than their parents). It informs the reader that these stories are from 'long, long ago'. It explains that an ancient Greek called Aesop 'may' have written them, but that it was so long ago no-one knows. It asserts that 'fables' means stories with a moral lesson at the end; although that is not entirely accurate, it is a practical introductory definition which, like the sub-sections, invites the reader to consider the message of the story. Finally, readers are invited to try and invent a fable, as students of ancient Greece did.


Further Reading

Babrius and Phaedrus Fables, trans. B.E. Perry, 1965, Loeb Classical Library, Cambridge MA and London, England: Harvard University Press.

Cooper, Kenneth, "Aesop's Fables for Adults", Peabody Journal of Education 33.3 (1955), 143-147.

Daly, Lloyd, R. (trans. ed.), Aesop Without the Morals. The Famous Fables, and a Life of Aesop, New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1961.

Finch, Chauncey E., "The Greek Source of Lorenzo Valla's Translation of Aesop's "Fables"", Classical Philology 55.2 (1960), 118-120.

Hall, Edith, "Our Fabled Childhood: Reflections on the Unsuitability of Aesop to Children", in Katarzyna Marciniak, ed. Our Mythical Childhood... The Classics and Literature for Children and Young Adults, Leiden: Brill, 2016.

Perry, B.E., Aesopica: Studies in Text History of Life and Fables of Aesop, 1952.

Addenda

Entry based on 2nd edition, pub. London, 2015.

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Leaf pattern
Leaf pattern

Title of the work

Usborne Illustrated Stories from Aesop

Country of the First Edition

Country/countries of popularity

United States; United Kingdom; other English-speaking countries

Original Language

English

First Edition Date

2013

First Edition Details

Susanna Davidson. Usborne Illustrated Stories from Aesop. Usborne Publishing Ltd., 2013, 272 pp.

ISBN

9781409598923

Genre

Fables
Myths
Picture books
Short stories

Target Audience

Children (c. 4-10)

Cover

Courtesy of Usborne Publishing Ltd.


Author of the Entry:

Sonya Nevin, University of Roehampton, sonya.nevin@roehampton.ac.uk 

Peer-reviewer of the Entry:

Susan Deacy, University of Roehampton, s.deacy@roehampton.ac.uk 

Dorota Mackenzie, University of Warsaw, dorota.mackenzie@gmail.com 

Female portrait

Susanna Davidson (Author)

Susanna Davidson is a British author of over fifty fiction and non-fiction books for children, written mostly for Usborne Publishing. Her publications include retellings of traditional myths and fairy tales, such as Cinderella (Usborne), Rapunzel (Usborne), The Story of Pegasus (Usborne), Baba Yaga the Flying Witch, and Little Red Riding Hood (Usborne). Susanna Davidson also writes children's books on religion and history, including The Story of Hannukah (Usborne), The Holocaust (Usborne), and Elizabeth I (Usborne), as well as other non-fiction titles such as Snails (Usborne), Penguins (Usborne), and Under the Ground (Usborne). Under the name "Zanna Davidson", she writes modern children's fiction, including the Fairy Ponies and Fairy Unicorns series.


Bio prepared by Sonya Nevin, University of Roehampton, sonya.nevin@roehampton.ac.uk


Male portrait

Giuliano Ferri (Illustrator)

Giuliano Ferri is an Italian freelance illustrator. He graduated from the Art Institute of Urbino, Italy, where he specialised in animation. Ferri is best known for his children's illustrations. He also works with young people in the community using animation, drama, and comic theatre to help those with disabilities.


Bio prepared by Sonya Nevin, University of Roehampton, sonya.nevin@roehampton.ac.uk


Summary

Fables attributed to Aesop were collated in antiquity by Demetrius of Phaleron, c. 300 BCE (Diogenes Laertius, 5.80), and passed on through various retellings in antiquity and the medieval, early modern, and modern periods. This publication features retellings of many of the available Aesop's Fables, divided into categories based on themes: Pride, Trickery, Greed, Quarrels, Friendship, Cunning, and Retorts. This arrangement encourages the reader to be conscious of the messages within the stories, particularly their moral themes. Some of these classifications are a little more forced than others (The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse is not 'about' friendship in any meaningful sense, for example, rather than simply being a story that features friends), but they all essentially make sense. The titles included are:


Pride:

The Fox and the Crow

The Peacock and the Crane

The Hare and the Tortoise

The Eagle, the Jackdaw and the Shepherd

The Fox and the Grapes

King of the Birds


Trickery:

The Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

The Cat and the Hens

The Lion and the Fox

The Cat and the Mice

The Wolf and the Heron


Greed:

The Goose that Laid the Golden Eggs

The Fox in the Tree

The Dog and the Bone


Quarrels:

The Sun and the Wind

The Lion and the Statue

The Fox and the Stork

The Lion and the Wild Boar


Friendship:

The Town Mouse and the Country Mouse

The Ant and the Dove

The Explorers and the Bear

The Lion and the Mouse


Cunning:

The Crow and the Jug

The Fox and the Billy Goat

Belling the Cat

The Dog on the Roof


Retorts:

The Piglet and the Sheep

The Lioness and the Vixen

The Fox and the Rooster

The Fir Tree and the Bramble

The Crab and its Mother


Comeuppance:

The Tortoise and the Eagle

The Ant and the Grasshopper

The Boy who Cried Wolf

Zeus and the Tortoise


About the stories.


The stories all conclude with an explicitly stated moral (captioned 'Moral'); this follows the medieval tradition of applying moral epilogues to the fables.

Analysis

Each story in this collection features a title illustration and one full page illustration; most contain further small illustrations, although there are some double-pages without any illustration. The illustrations situate the stories in a variety of locations and time-periods, although most appear to be set in Northern Europe, as indicated by the extensive use of rich green grassy environments and traditional Northern European architecture. Atypically, in The Lion and the Fox, reference to antelope, warthog, buffalo, zebra, and wildebeest place the story in Africa, while The Lion and the Wild Boar is also situated in Africa through the depiction of an elephant, giraffe, rhino, antelope, and a savannah landscape. This is a change from the ancient tradition, which would be referring to the European lion, with the story situated in southern Europe; the change makes the story more comprehensible to a modern readership living in an age in which the European lion is largely extinct and African lions more familiar. The emphasis on Northern Europe creates the impression that these stories originated in or are drawn from Northern Europe. This diminishes the sense of a specifically Greek origin, presumably targeting a Northern European market of readers who see their own environment reflected in the stories, rather than being transported by the stories to a different country. The inclusion of the African setting adds diversity and the implication that the stories have resonance beyond Europe, although this element is limited by its rarity.

Items such as electric lamps place some of the stories in the twenty to twenty-first centuries, while others depict figures in medieval or Victorian clothing. The main indication of antiquity comes from the figure of Zeus, who appears in two of the stories, King of the Birds and Zeus and the Tortoise. In both he is referred to as 'Zeus' (rather than e.g. Jupiter). He is depicted as an older white man with white hair and beard, and with accessories that indicate antiquity: laurel wreath, gold bracelets, and his symbol, the lightning bolt (p.46). In both images he is dressed in white robes. The other indicator of antiquity in the book is a two-page About the stories at the end. This section is aimed at young readers (rather than their parents). It informs the reader that these stories are from 'long, long ago'. It explains that an ancient Greek called Aesop 'may' have written them, but that it was so long ago no-one knows. It asserts that 'fables' means stories with a moral lesson at the end; although that is not entirely accurate, it is a practical introductory definition which, like the sub-sections, invites the reader to consider the message of the story. Finally, readers are invited to try and invent a fable, as students of ancient Greece did.


Further Reading

Babrius and Phaedrus Fables, trans. B.E. Perry, 1965, Loeb Classical Library, Cambridge MA and London, England: Harvard University Press.

Cooper, Kenneth, "Aesop's Fables for Adults", Peabody Journal of Education 33.3 (1955), 143-147.

Daly, Lloyd, R. (trans. ed.), Aesop Without the Morals. The Famous Fables, and a Life of Aesop, New York: Thomas Yoseloff, 1961.

Finch, Chauncey E., "The Greek Source of Lorenzo Valla's Translation of Aesop's "Fables"", Classical Philology 55.2 (1960), 118-120.

Hall, Edith, "Our Fabled Childhood: Reflections on the Unsuitability of Aesop to Children", in Katarzyna Marciniak, ed. Our Mythical Childhood... The Classics and Literature for Children and Young Adults, Leiden: Brill, 2016.

Perry, B.E., Aesopica: Studies in Text History of Life and Fables of Aesop, 1952.

Addenda

Entry based on 2nd edition, pub. London, 2015.

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