anno's aesop



My favourite edition of Aesop's Fables is a 1987 edition by Mitsumasa Anno. It's not just a book of fables, it's a book about books, about different interpretations and points of view and in a way it is also about parenting.



The structure of the book is a book within a book. One day a little fox named Freddy finds a book in the woods, which he brings home to his father, Mr. Fox. Mr. Fox cannot read, being a fox, so he pretends to read the book to his son by interpreting the pictures.




Each page contains a page with a classic fable on it. Underneath is the version told by Mr. Fox. 



 In Anno's explanation, Mr. Fox pretends to be able to read the book so that his son won't lose respect for him. But it reminded me of Gordon Neufeld's advice to parents that they must act as though they are in control of situations in order to make children feel protected, which has sort of fallen out of fashion.




Sometimes this book is very touching, as in the two stories of the Ant and the Grasshopper.  The original story is in the image. I will put down Mr. Fox's version below.


It's cold outside, and snow is on the ground. People have to play indoors, where it is warm. But look, someone has come walking across the snow. This must be the farmer from the story before [The story of the Farmer and the Fox is on the previous page in which a farmer's wheat fields are set on fire]. He has been travelling all over, disguised as a musician, in search of the thief who stole his wheat. And now winter has come. It is too cold for him, and he doesn't have any food, but he sees a house ahead and he walks toward it. He can hear people dancing and talking inside. I hope they will let him come in.


But what is the grasshopper doing, you ask? Well, Freddy, it looks as if he is running away. But, yes, as you say, the grasshopper has an alibi, so he doesn't really need to run away. You're absolutely right. I had forgotten to read what it says here. It says, "The grasshopper isn't running away. He just stopped by to warn the ants that they should watch out for the farmer who has come looking for them." 

Insects should look after one another, you see.