I stumbled across this book in the Burbank Public Library one day in the early 1980's. It's an "Americanized" version of the German folk classic "REYNARD THE FOX" published in 1945. The illustrator Keith Ward decorates the book with highly appealing drawings of animals in medieval clothing that appear to have influenced Ken Anderson's take on the 1973 Disney version of ROBIN HOOD. "Reynard" was also the villain in Marc Davis' proposed CHANTICLEER feature (which appears to have been set in a somewhat later time period) and I suspect that somewhere during the research for both properties this book may well have been kicking around the studio.
Keith Ward was a prolific illustrator in the first half of the 20th century. These fanciful and accomplished renderings are typical of his later work. Some of his other notable assignments include the original "Dick and Jane" reading primer illustrations and he also designed "Elsie the Cow" for Borden condensed milk, and "Elmer the Bull" for the same company's glue. (I remember an oil portrait of the entire bovine clan at supper that hung in the cloakroom of kindergarten class that was likely Mr. Ward's work as well. I can't for the life of me remember what they were eating.) When the digital age of electronic used book searches dawned, this book is one of the first things I tracked down and got.
As you can see, Keith Ward's jaunty Reynard (on top) resembles Ken Anderson's preliminary "Robin" at least as much as the finished model.
The "Lion Queen" in the above drawing seems to have had every bit as much influence on Ken's version of "Prince John" as the Campbell Grant drawing I posted earlier (see HERE).
Could this anonymous snake in the grass, wandering along with a crow, have been involved in the inspiration for "Sir Hiss?"
And most strikingly, this noble bear's costume "bears" an "unbearably" close resemblance to the disguise "Little John" wears at the archery tourney.
There are many other illustrations in the book too, including rabbits and elephants that look like the ones in the film, a gallows scene, and the king dozing in his royal bed, not unlike the setting of the movie's climactic "heist" scene. Once again, I am not bringing these to light to besmirch Ken Anderson, but to show a likely influence from a heretofore unsung artist. I have to think that Keith Ward must have in some sense been influenced by Disney films back when he was illustrating this book (though to my knowledge he never worked for the studio), so it's all cyclical in a way. Reynard, even in this cleaned-up 1945 version, is too a vicious and cynical character for a Disney movie. He constantly rips innocent creatures off and even kills and eats quite a few. Somehow he gets away with it all. I guess he never heard of "karma."