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At a school I no longer go to (Sydney, Australia, early 2010s, the book was in English), I read this book in the library that was a collection of Aesop's fables. The author had this very distinctive style that I feel has heavily influenced me in my own writing even now.

  • The book was pretty tall
  • This isn't a exhaustive or comprehensive list of all the fables in there, but it had fables of the vain jackdaw, the ant and the grasshopper, tortoise and the eagle, fox and the sour grapes, dog and a bone
  • It was illustrated in a very realistic, painterly art style
  • The author was a woman. I vaguely remember her first name starting with H, and even more vaguely being Hannah or spelled similar so that might be a red herring. She had an "about the author" written at the end of the book in the same prosy whimsical style, but I only remember the start where she talks about being a shy girl who made mud pies.
  • Another part that sticks very very clearly in my mind: in its telling of the ant and the grasshopper, it ends with the ant acidically telling the grasshopper that if he sang all summer he should dance all winter. It looks like this is not an original prose and I've found retellings online which includes this but it made a MASSIVE impression on me when I read it.
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  • Your statement about her name beginning with "H" immediately led me to think of Edith Hamilton, but I have not been able to identify any book she wrote had anything to do with fables attributed to Aesop.
    – llywrch
    Jul 10, 2020 at 15:26
  • Do you remember the color? Seems like there are a lot of different styles by the description you mentioned
    – wilkvolk
    Aug 3, 2020 at 21:49

1 Answer 1

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It looks like "Unwitting Wisdom" by Helen Ward:

enter image description here

  • It is 32 cm tall (larger than quarto)
  • It has all the fables you've mentioned
  • The ant of course was unimpressed. "Then MAYBE…," he said acidly, "…YOU SHOULD DANCE ALL WINTER.". And with that, he turned his back on the cricket and marched into the nest.

  • There was once a little girl who liked to draw and paint and make things, sometimes out of paper or fabric and sometimes out of mud, sticks and grass clippings. She climbed trees and never fell out. She read lots of books and listened to what everyone told her, but she did not say much because she was very shy.

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