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by Mariah Robinson

Once Upon a Fable is a lively collection of seven compelling and comforting tales with 20/20 vision. There’s a solid marriage verging on the rocks; an abandoned baby raven and a family of field mice; a precocious little boy, his strong-willed nanny, and his amazing best friend; an unyielding politician’s moments of reckoning; a bridge whiz millionaire who chooses his partner; a mantis of distinction and a beyond-the-coop hen who cross paths, and last, an exotic Hollywood-bound duck of color who gets her wish. Mariah Robinson has drawn a collection of fast-paced, age old dramas of memorable life events, enduring love, envy, animosity, infidelity with a twist, and a host of bittersweet tosses and turns–all set in fanciful plots. This unforgettable cast of characters is sure to capture your heart and set it spinning.

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Meet the Author

Mariah Robinson loves to wrap a story around a good aphorism. She began collecting them when she was ten and has clothbound and handwritten volumes of memorable quotations tucked away on shelves, in closets, and atop a large, oak, library writing desk. Mariah’s first novel, Love and Other Illusions, was nominated in 2012 by the Library of Virginia for best in Literary Fiction. Sister Sorrow, Sister Joy, her second work of fiction, has also been nominated for best in Literary Fiction in 2019. She lives in Richmond, Virginia.

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Formats:  Hardcover w/ dust jacket, e-book

Pages:  112

ISBN (HC): 978-1-947860-19-3

ISBN (EB): 978-1-951565-74-9

Release Date: 5/28/2020


“The short story—once a popular form of fiction—has fallen prey to belt-tightening by magazines, changing habits by readers, and economic issues sustained by publishing houses. But the framework remains relevant to discerning bibliophiles, and Richmonder Mariah Robinson offers proof in Once Upon a Fable. An aphorism—Robinson has collected them for years—provides the genesis of each of the seven stories, of which most focus on animals. In the opener, ‘Leave Her to Heaven,’ husband and wife cats Jay and Sasha—he’s a dentist, she’s an editor for a publishing house—reflect on parenthood. In ‘The Beginning of Wisdom,’ a squirrel named Joseph teaches a small boy about kindness. And in ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business,’ June the mallard ignores sister May’s advice and discovers that celebrity doesn’t necessarily produce happiness. Tender and touching, Once Upon a Fable offers sweet but not treacly, thought-provoking but never preachy, charming but at no time precious, tales. They will beguile an hour or so of your time—or a full week if you choose to savor only one each day.” —Jay Strafford, former and retired Richmond Times-Dispatch journalist and book reviewer

“Humans and talking animals share a range of struggles in these dry but imaginative fables from Robinson. . . . In ‘The Beginning of Wisdom,’ the strongest tale, young Gabriel Ashworth meets talking squirrel Joseph Bottomley, who reveals to the boy that every creature has loved ones and teaches Gabriel to stop putting insects in jars. Robinson cleverly uses animal characters to explore human foibles. . . .This sweet, if stilted, collection will most appeal to fable and fairy tale enthusiasts.” —Publishers’ Weekly

“A slim volume of mostly anthropomorphic short stories explores the underlying nature of relationships and family. Though pitched as fables—and bestowed the dreamy quality of such by their substitution of animal for human characters—Robinson’s tales offer less a thou shalt or thou shalt not moral than a wistful, nonjudgmental imparting of experiences gained. The first and longest story in the collection, ‘Leave Her to Heaven,’ breezes through the married life of a purebred Siamese cat and her tabby husband raising an adoptive litter born of the tabby’s one-off infidelity with a Burmese. The message by the tale’s end is not that either cat should have acted differently, but rather that parenthood is unpredictable and should be embraced for whatever it brings. Next is ‘A Raven Named Rubin,’ in which a field mouse tries unsuccessfully to nurse an injured raven back to health—at only four pages, the story delivers an aptly fleeting look of how dreams can be stillborn. ‘The Beginning of Wisdom’ features the only human protagonist in the volume, a boy who collects insects in glass bottles. The boy eventually changes his ways—not after suffering a comeuppance but instead from talking with a squirrel and gaining a new, empathetic perspective on the sanctity of life. ‘Mayor Spare that Tree’ is related in theme but relatively uninspiring (unlike the other tales, it gains little from using animal characters). Robinson’s prose is simple but redolent, and at its best affords enchanting glimpses of underlying human frailties. ‘Bridge in the Afternoon’ sees an egret spend many contented years playing cards and cultivating the perfect bridge partner, only to realize how empty his heart is without a similar partner in life. ‘The Good the Bad and the Hideous’ tells how a chicken and a praying mantis find happiness together. The volume concludes with ‘There’s No Business Like Show Business,’ in which a mallard fails in pursuing her dreams of stardom but finds solace in returning to her sister and foster parents. All told, the author has fashioned an absorbing little collection. Each of the seven tales repays consideration and the stories work well as a series, probing gently and never overstaying their welcome. Languid, engaging, inwardly revealing flights of fancy.” —Kirkus Indie

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