Arnold Lobel's Fables
Book review by Tamara Splingaerd
20 Original Animal Shorts
Precocious readers or parents wishing to inflict abstract virtues upon unsuspecting schoolchildren will love Arnold Lobel’s Fables.
(Webmaster's note: The book won the 1981 Caldecott Medal!)
Each fable stars a different animal, including an ill-advised baboon, the vain Madame Rhinoceros, a dancing camel and a smitten ostrich.
“The Ostrich in Love” tells the tale of a lovestruck ostrich who gathers flowers and composes poetry for his beloved, yet is so shy he has never once spoken to her. Surprisingly, Lobel concludes “Love can be its own reward”. At first maybe a bit deep for your second-grader but I think they can understand. After all, it is the schoolchildren who harbor a naïve love for everyone in the world (and Justin Bieber) and are better for it.
If you are familiar with Lobel, I don’t need to explain the irony and humor that ooze from his illustrations. A young elephant in pajamas staring at his papa’s flaming slipper while Papa reads “The Daily Trumpet,” is perfection. The moral: “Knowledge will not always take the place of simple observation.”
I recommend purchasing this book rather than renting it, because growing minds will discover new ideas every time they read Fables. I’m finding, as I usually do when re-reading children’s literature, the lessons never grow old.
Lobel ends his collection with the brave mouse who dreams of traveling to see the ocean. Bruised and battered, the mouse eventually reaches his destination. The moral: “All the miles of a hard road are worth one moment of true happiness.”
I believe children surrounded by even the simplest of philosophical contemplations grow into thoughtful, contented adults. Thought-provoking children’s books are like vegetables for the psyche. Stuff their shelves with accessible, entertaining classics they can return to year after year. A great place to start is exchanging your Dick and Jane collection for Arnold Lobel’s Fables.
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