Inexpensive editions of folk tales

THREE folk tales from Russian, Greek, and Old Testament traditions have been reissued recently in affordable paperback editions. The Little Humpbacked Horse, retold by Margaret Hodges, pictures by Chris Conover (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, New York, $3.95, 32 pp., age 3 and up), is an old Russian tale about a farmer's son and the magical red foal that helps him out of one scrape after another. There's magic in the antique illustrations, too - historically detailed and fairly bursting with the energy of dreams set free.

The Unicorn and the Lake, by Marianna Mayer, pictures by Michael Hague (Dial, New York, $3.95, 32 pp., all ages), is a legend that may derive from a chronicler in the Persian courts of 400 BC. It tells the story of a time when ``all animals lived in harmony.'' How the snow-white unicorn bests the slithery serpent is a captivating tale, and renowned illustrator Hague lends considerable charm with his velvety earth-tone illustrations.

Why Noah Chose the Dove, by Isaac Bashevis Singer, translated by Elizabeth Shub, pictures by Eric Carle (Farrar, Straus & Giroux, $3.95, 32 pp., age 3 and up) brings together two respected contemporary artists. Singer's lyrical prose account of the biblical story of the flood harmonizes with Carle's distinctive collage animals to teach a quiet lesson: ``Each one of us has something the other doesn't have,'' coos the dove, ``given us by God who created us all.'' -30-{et

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