Reading Corner | ‘Fables’ a fun way to keep kids engaged

“40 Fun Fables: Tales That Trick, Tickle and Teach,” retold by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss.
“40 Fun Fables: Tales That Trick, Tickle and Teach,” retold by Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss. Courtesy image

Fables are short bits of story and wisdom wrapped into one. A recent compilation of tales, “40 Fun Fables: Tales That Trick, Tickle and Teach,” complete with suggested activities, is the perfect way for families to ensure that their little ones do not lose ground over the summer. They provide just the right amount of intellectual pick-me-up with frivolity.

Authors Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss are superb story performers and have authored other collections of tales. This slim volume, just the right size to tuck in a beach bag, reinforces their reputation for expertise. The pair is quoted on the back of the book saying, “Fables help children learn to think critically, to think in analogies, to solve their own problems and find their own truths. Children are drawn to fables because they are trying to make sense of the world … Our retellings of these fables grew out of our desire to find and retell fables that had an element of fun.”

The versions in this book are original to the pair of tellers, in their own words. I think your children will find them entertaining. I know I did.

For slightly older children, let them learn and enjoy by asking them to read these to younger siblings, relatives and neighbors. The included drawings are simple and, to further increase the learning, ask your child to color — in your own copy, of course!

The second half of the book includes ways that parents, teachers, librarians or even older children, can help “stretch” these tales with activities that reinforce their meaning and the fun of reading. All of the tales can be acted out. All of the tales can provide a rainy-day, summer respite from the television or video games by gathering up household boxes, papers, etc. and making puppets, reminding children of this TV generation that making one’s own entertainment is possible and great.

I confess, I am particularly fond of this sort of book. As a professional storyteller myself, I also draw a well-known fable or tale down to its basics and then build it up again with my own accoutrements. Hamilton and Weiss are masters of making this art seem simple. I love to perform these classic stories because I know the truth of the authors’ statement that children enjoy them. Of all of the stories I perform, classic fables are among the most requested.

This is the sort of little book that is greatly enjoyed and winds up being cherished.

Joan Leotta, For The Sun News

Local authors hold book-signings

▪ Local author Jacqueline T. Moore will discuss and sign her debut novel, “The Canary,” Tuesday at 4 p.m. at Chelsea Jo’s Restaurant, 3070 U.S. 17 Business S., Garden City. “The Canary,” presented by Solstice Publishing, is set in Galveston, Texas, in 1895 and is the story of two remarkable women as they learn to live, love and appreciate fine jewelry.

▪ Local author Becky Billingsley will sign her latest book, “Wicked Myrtle Beach and the Grand Strand,” Aug. 14, 10 a.m. to noon, at Chapin Memorial Library, 400 14th Ave. N., Myrtle Beach. Billingsley also will speak about some of the tales in the book, as well as how she came to write this local history book.

If you have book- or author-related news, email Items and reviews run on a space-available basis.

At a glance

Title: “40 Fun Fables: Tales That Trick, Tickle and Teach”

Authors: Martha Hamilton and Mitch Weiss

Publisher: August House Press

Length: 95 pages

Cost: $8.95