April 20, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Five Fables | SLJ DVD Review

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redstarFive Fables. 2:25 hrs. Dreamscape. 2017. $24.99. $199.99 (PPR). ISBN 808506020329.

Gr 2 Up –These five fables are part of a project in which Irish poet Seamus Heaney was engaged at the time of his death. Heaney discovered the writing of medieval Scots poet Robert Henryson and was enchanted by his treatment of Aesop’s fables, so he translated Henryson’s work into modern English. The two-dimensional animation employs watercolor, oil, gouache, and acrylic, and the lush portrayals of nature are inviting. Heaney’s lyrical translation may be challenging for some because of the high-level vocabulary and colloquialisms, such as “sleeked, scotched, and forbeanly snuffed.” The narration by Scottish comedian/actor Billy Connelly adds authenticity, but U.S. viewers may find his accent hard to understand at times; regrettably, there aren’t captions available. The original score by Barry Douglas is gorgeous and perfectly fits the action. In the supplemental material, scenes of the recording process show the orchestra playing with the screened version, pausing and adjusting as needed. Each fable ends with a segment focusing on an aspect of the production: the narration, Henryson’s and Heaney’s biographies, the score, and the animation process. Budding animators will appreciate the details. Younger students will enjoy viewing the fables, even if some words are lost to them. Older students will welcome the insights into music composition, animation, and filmmaking. Students of English literature and folklore will be interested in Henryson and in Heaney’s translation. VERDICT This stellar offering will resonate with children and adults alike. For public libraries and large school libraries.–Constance Dickerson, Cleveland Heights-University Heights Public Library

This review was published in the School Library Journal September 2017 issue.

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