Posts Tagged tortoise

a fable and an illustrator

Sam is nine and in a CM1 class at his école primaire. There’s a lot of memorising for homework, which seems like an old-fashioned sort of way of learning. With poems it’s OK, but with history, like the reigns of Clovis and Charlemagne, and long poetry like this fable of La Fontaine I’m not so sure:


Rien ne sert de courir ; il faut partir à point.
Le Lièvre et la Tortue en sont un témoignage.
Gageons, dit celle-ci, que vous n’atteindrez point
Si tôt que moi ce but. Si tôt ? Êtes-vous sage ?
Repartit l’Animal léger.
Ma Commère, il vous faut purger
Avec quatre grains  d’ellébore.
Sage ou non, je parie encore.
Ainsi fut fait : et de tous deux
On mit près du but les enjeux.
Savoir quoi, ce n’est pas l’affaire ;
Ni de quel juge l’on convint. …

STOP!  That’s enough, Jean! Remember kids are going to have to learn this!

So let’s brighten things up a little with a favourite illustrator, Barbara Nascimbeni. You can see a couple of her illustrations of the same fable here:

When Sam was a toddler we had Noisy Ralph:

Later on we had Archie Hates Pink:

I like her way of painting, also the way things leap all over the place, the way the point of view seems to dance.

I like the books she chooses to illustrate too. The one above, though it is German, seems to be an Anansi story (translate it please!) She’s done some Aesop’s fables, like the hare and the tortoise of course. She seems to have managed to get published in all sorts of countries too.


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What are you exactly?

Trail sign

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aesop on flickr

When I was on Samos, Aesop’s island, I saw both a tortoise and, briefly, a hare.
What is it about this story, and others from Aesop, that has inspired artists so much?

For instance:

The Tortoise and The Hare

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Uploaded on May 3, 2006


tortoise and hare

Uploaded on August 2, 2007
by bird in the beehive

The story of course continues to give us its meaning

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