Aesop’s Fables

A retelling with illustrations by Piet Grobler

One blistering hot day, in the middle of summer, Lion and Warthog had the same idea. Get down to the waterhole and drink!
They arrived at the same time and at the very same spot.
“I go first!” growled Lion.
“Hayi khona! Oh no, you don’t!” retorted Warthog

Here are 16 of Aesop’s wise, witty and timeless fables, portrayed in an African setting.  A little mouse saves the life of a great lion.  Kudu’s pride in his beautiful curly horns leads to his downfall. Hungry Grasshopper, too lazy to store food, gets no mercy from the industrious ants.  Crafty Jackal tricks Klipspringer to escape death – but another day Jackal himself is tricked by the cock and the dog!

This is an exciting new interpretation of one of the world’s great classics. It is vividly illustrated by Beverley’s fellow South African Piet Grobler, an internationally acclaimed illustrator who also illustrated The Great Tug of War and other stories.

I was hooked by Aesop's fables when I was a child. I knew a lot of the animals in his tales because I grew up in South Africa. We lived down the road from the city zoo but it was more exciting to spot lions, snakes and eagles out in the bush. We had cunning jackals rather than Aesop's "foxes" and grumpy warthogs instead of "boars", but really they were much the same animals. Aesop's fables often sent a shiver through me and I loved them!

Who was Aesop? The grown-ups - and my books said that he was a wise slave who had lived over two and a half thousand years ago in Greece. So I thought of him as Greek. I didn't pick up other clues, such as...

Why does Aesop have African animals in so many of his fables?

Most of his fables have a moral and African folk tales often show us the meaning of a proverb.

Aesop's fables aren't like fairy tales from Europe with "happy ever after" endings. They are much more like traditional African stories. Life is tough... and things can end badly for anyone who doesn't watch out or use their wits!
– from 'Dear Reader' by the Author

This is a stunning retelling with glorious illustrations bringing the fables alive for a new generation.
– Carousel, UK

Treat this book as a collection of easy to read stories, as a re-telling of some ancient fables, as a witty comment on talking animals, as stories to share with 6 to 60-year-olds, as lessons for living… it will not disappoint, and will draw you back again and again.
– The School Librarian, UK

A vibrantly illustrated anthology setting the less familiar fables in Africa.
– New York Times

Naidoo and Grobler are a good pair of storytellers. His homely animals, energy and humorous details convey the stories with great fun and will be widely enjoyed for independent reading, reading aloud, and telling.
– School Library Journal, USA (Starred review)

Parents’ Choice Silver Award, USA 2011

USBBY (Board on Books for Young People)Outstanding International Books, USA 2012