Natalie Portman’s Fables

Feiwel & Friends. Oct. 2020. 64p. Tr $19.99. ISBN 9781250246868.
Gr 1-3–Some children’s stories are timeless, three of which are retold in this book for a new generation of young readers. First, the tortoise and the hare race for glory, learning that patience and perseverance lead to victory more often than raw skill and bravado. Next, the three little pigs strike out on their own, building their own homes out of the materials they have on hand. Along the way, their habits and waste are emphasized, causing readers to examine their own behaviors, as well. Last, country mouse and city mouse get a taste of each other’s differing lifestyles, learning that each has its own unique benefits. Portman’s activist voice comes out in the final lines of each story. Rhyming couplets are used throughout, but the meter and pacing of each line are uneven, making it difficult to read the stories aloud. Additionally, the challenging vocabulary and subject matter may prove to be better suited to an older audience than intended. Mattia’s illustrations improve the package and are enjoyable in their design. Readers young and old will be reminded of nostalgic childhood memories when seeing the pastel colors and watercolor designs. Expressive and dynamic, each illustration supports the forward momentum of the tales—only one of which is an actual fable—at hand.
VERDICT This well-intentioned collection lacks the qualities necessary to become a library must-buy.

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