Books by Marcia Williams

HOORAY FOR WOMEN! by Marcia Williams
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 13, 2019

"This animated volume will surely rouse future change-makers. (index) (Informational picture book. 7-10)"
A graphic compendium of 16 strong, trailblazing women. Read full book review >
LES MISÉRABLES by Victor Hugo
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 24, 2015

"An epic muddle, all in all. (Graphic fiction. 10-13)"
In typically buoyant cartoons, Williams presents a précis of Hugo's epic. Read full book review >
LIZZY BENNET'S DIARY by Marcia Williams
CHILDREN'S
Released: April 22, 2014

"Whether there's a readership for this is open to question, but it is certainly done well. Miss Austen would probably be pleased. (Dear Reader note) (Fiction/pastiche. 8-12)"
Young readers not quite ready to tackle Pride and Prejudice directly but who are yet intrigued by it might enjoy this loving tribute by the indefatigable Williams. Read full book review >
THE ROMANS by Marcia Williams
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 10, 2013

"Not a very detailed picture, but broad enough to leave younger readers with a general sense of how grand the grandeur was. (Informational picture book. 8-10)"
In cartoon panels, the inimitable Williams offers snapshots of ancient Rome from the mythological creation of the universe to the fall of the empire. Read full book review >
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 28, 2012

"Readers, wary or otherwise, could do far worse than dive into these witty, spirited renditions. (no source notes) (Graphic folktales. 8-11)"
Eight animal tales highlighting the value of cleverness and the hazards of greed are retold in Williams' signature breezy style. Read full book review >
ANCIENT EGYPT by Marcia Williams
CHILDREN'S
Released: Sept. 1, 2011

"A lighthearted recap of some of our oldest tales. (map) (Picture book/folklore. 7-10)"
For her latest cartoon foray into ancient cultures, Williams concocts a brisk dash through Egyptian myth and history. Read full book review >
ANIMALS
Released: Dec. 1, 2007

Williams departs from her familiar comic-strip style to present this lad's-eye view of the First World War, filling oversize spreads with collages of period post cards, taped-on bric-a-brac, newspaper clippings, foldout letters from the front and cartoons drawn in colored pencil. Ten years old when he receives his blank album, Archie begins by innocently introducing his extended London family, plus friends and neighbors both real and made-up. His blithe commentary darkens, though, as the war begins, comes closer with his own and other local fathers' departures for France and climaxes after long years of increasing food shortages and worry with the bombing of his best friend's street. Peace and his father do return at last, but as Archie writes in a wrenching summary letter (placed on the front endpaper): "They say that this has been the war to end all wars. Well, I hope they're right, but I don't really trust grown-ups any more." The idiom, setting and details may be British, but young Americans will have no trouble drawing parallels between WWI and the present situation. (Fiction. 10-12)Read full book review >
CHAUCER’S CANTERBURY TALES by Marcia Williams
CHILDREN'S
Released: Feb. 1, 2007

Of Williams's string of recast classics, this is the best so far. In nine of Chaucer's broader tales, retold in brief prose passages between lines of small, comic strip-style panels over running scenes of the pilgrim storytellers regaling one another, Williams moves from strenuous tests of love or faith in "The Wife of Bath's Tale" and "The Clerk's Tale" to the romance (or tragedy, depending on one's point of view) of "The Knight's Tale." And from the hilarious hanky panky of "The Miller's Tale" and the bed-swapping "The Reeve's Tale" (featuring the occasional bare fundament, but leaving the sex implied) to the gruesome triumph of Death in "The Pardoner's Tale." The pictures, aptly filled with comical figures of many classes and walks of life, are also sprinkled with direct quotes to provide a taste of the original's language. After the Nun's Priest's version of "Chanticleer and the Fox," plus a full-spread view of the pilgrims arriving at Canterbury, Williams closes with a discussion-sparking invitation to judge which is the best story. Readers will want to revisit several of the high—and low—spots before deciding. (Graphic fiction. 9-12)Read full book review >
HOORAY FOR INVENTORS! by Marcia Williams
BIOGRAPHY
Released: Nov. 1, 2005

Dedicating her newest offering to Leonardo da Vinci, "My special hero of invention," Williams sweeps through the entire history of inventions, from ball ("an unknown Stone Age child, c. 40,000 B.C.") to ball-point (Ladislao Biro, 1938). Framing sequential comic book-style panels in banter and bits of fact delivered by a flock of birds, she highlights 11 important figures, adding spreads devoted to women, to "Inventors of Useful Things" and in closing, to several dozen favorites, including such modern necessities as the chocolate bar (François Louis Cailler, 1819) and the self-cleaning house (Frances Gabe, 1950). She's not much for depth of detail, but her brightly colored cartoons, crowded with tiny, expressively drawn figures, create an irresistibly celebratory tone, and by pairing familiar names with lesser-known but no less deserving precursors—Richard Trevithick with George Stephenson, Antonio Meucci with Alexander Graham Bell—she counters the more simplistic accounts common in other titles. An exuberant alternative to Judith St. George's skimpier but more analytical So You Want to Be an Inventor (2002), illus by David Small. (index) (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-9)Read full book review >
GOD AND HIS CREATIONS by Marcia Williams
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 2004

Williams applies her trademark cartoony style to 11 tales from the Old Testament, rendered in two- or four-page spreads. The illustrations are characteristically busy, tiny panels sharing space with larger tableaux, all surrounded by a Greek chorus of angels (with a lumpy-headed serpent who twines itself around the frame and provides the antiphon). The effect can be hilarious: 40 itty-bitty panels depict Noah's Ark bobbing on the waves (and receiving an occasional assist from God), while dialogue from within reveals its passengers' increasing distaste for their hay rations ("Yuck!"). God Himself is depicted as a bald, jolly-looking olive-skinned gentleman with a beard, and while the other characters' dialogue is colloquial and even at times irreverent, His dialogue is quoted from the New International Version of the Bible. No collection of stories can convey the grand narrative sweep of the Old Testament, and this is no exception. As an unusual and very funny interpretation of some of the key stories in the Western tradition, this offering works beautifully; as an entree to the Bible itself, it is less successful. (Picture book/nonfiction. 7-12)Read full book review >
CHARLES DICKENS AND FRIENDS by Marcia Williams
CHILDREN'S
Released: Oct. 1, 2002

With small, teeming cartoon scenes so boisterous that they frequently burst their borders, Williams (Bravo, Mr. William Shakespeare!, 2000, etc.) catapults readers headlong through five of Dickens's best-known melodramas, introducing an array of curly-haired naifs, roundly vivacious young women, and pasty-faced villains, as well as those distinctively colorful supporting casts of orphans, convicts, ne'er-do-wells, widows, pickpockets, ghosts, and more—all of whom speak in snatches of Dickens's own dialogue. Taking each tale's original narrative voice, Williams fills in the gaps with necessarily substantial captions, and for additional atmosphere adds borders of dingy London rooftops, or groups of gnomes and other small creatures observing the action from the margins. Williams's figures may be tiny, but their personalities are distinctly larger than life; just as Oliver Twist, Bill Sikes, icky Uriah Heep, Scrooge, Miss Havisham, and the rest came alive for Dickens, so will they come alive for readers years (or decades) away from tackling the full length originals. Pair this with Diane Stanley's Charles Dickens: The Man Who Had Great Expectations (1993) to lay far, far better groundwork for a later appreciation of some timeless classics than filmed versions, or more conventional abridgements, ever could. (Picture book. 8-10)Read full book review >
BRAVO, MR. WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE! by Marcia Williams
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 2000

Will's twins, Hamnet and Judith, might themselves have been entranced by this clever telling of seven of their dad's plays. Williams has a brilliant signature style: in bright watercolor and ink images replete with fulsome and waggish detail, she builds a page of panels surrounded by a border. In the panels, the text is taken from Shakespeare's own words; below the panels, her narrative continues the action. The borders, inspired by illuminated manuscript drolleries, are full of comments from the audience, rife with puns ("It's what you Will!") and sly remarks ("a plague on all this kissing!"). She handles As You Like It, Antony and Cleopatra, Richard II, Twelfth Night, King Lear, The Merchant of Venice, and Much Ado About Nothing fearlessly, using a grisaille, Gorey-esque palette for the tragedies and full-out color saturation for the comedies, all with a kind of nervous, effervescent line that suits both initial and repeated examination. All the adoring fans of Williams's Tales from Shakespeare will rejoice, and new ones will join in the applause. (Picture book. 8-12)Read full book review >
TALES FROM SHAKESPEARE by Marcia Williams
CHILDREN'S
Released: Aug. 1, 1998

Seven plays—Romeo and Juliet, MacBeth, The Tempest, The Winter's Tale, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Julius Caesar, and Hamlet—have been condensed into the comic-strip panels of Williams's other retellings (The Iliad and the Odyssey, 1996, etc.); Shakespeare's words are spouted by the performers, summaries of the plot appear beneath the frames, and Elizabethan-era playgoers heckle and comment from the sides and bottom of every page—e.g., "Go on! Kiss her." Some plays take up two or three spreads, but for all their compactness, these condensations are surprisingly clear and faithful. The plays are newly accessible to a contemporary audience; with 40-50 players and members of the audience on every page, there humor in every corner and high drama in most frames. Every play is given its own palette; Macbeth's is appropriately ghostly and spooky, while A Midsummer Night's Dream is suitably sprightly and exhaustively antic. For readers familiar with the plays, the synopses are amusing and the watercolor depictions impressive; for those using this work as an entry to Shakespeare's works, welcome. (Picture book. 8-11) Read full book review >
THE ILIAD AND THE ODYSSEY by Marcia Williams
CHILDREN'S
Released: Nov. 1, 1996

The highlights of Homer's epics are rendered as a comic book, in a visual and literary style that Williams (Sinbad the Sailor, 1994, etc.) has used before, but here more reminiscent of Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the World than a Classics Illustrated. The attempts at comedy in the silly and superfluous dialogue are forced, although the illustrations fare better, packed with humor and detail. The goofy borders are entertaining, but generally unrelated to the text, and Williams uses names that differ from the standard: Telepylus for the Laestrygonians, Scheria for Phaeacia. With a proliferation of versions of Homer on the market, add this one to the shelves only where Williams's other comic-strip tellings are popular. (Picture book/folklore. 7-12) Read full book review >
KING ARTHUR AND THE KNIGHTS OF THE ROUND TABLE by Marcia Williams
CHILDREN'S
Released: March 1, 1996

Williams (Sinbad the Sailor, 1994, etc.) continues her popular series of folklore classics in comic-book-style strips with text at the base and dialogue balloons in the pictures. Each spread is a separate mini-chapter on an aspect of the Arthurian legend: One is dedicated to ``King Arthur,'' another to ``Excalibur,'' one for ``Morgan le Fay,'' and so on to ``Camelot'' and the tournament celebrating Galahad's success. With plenty of adventure, this is a grand introduction to the genre, although the characterization of Elaine (dumb), Morgan le Fay (evil), and the Lancelot-Guinevere entanglements (glossed over) may be a little too rigidly traditional for some modern readers. Williams, featuring the knights and other players as well as King Arthur, has selected appropriate versions of the various episodes and kept the text brief and flavorful. Whether such an epic cycle does well in such a domesticated guise is a matter of taste, but it looks destined for success in collections everywhere. (Picture book. 7-12) Read full book review >
SINBAD THE SAILOR by Marcia Williams
ADVENTURE
Released: March 1, 1994

The comic-strip format that Williams has used for her renditions of Don Quixote (1993) and of the Greek myths and the biblical story of Joseph is particularly well suited to this old favorite with its highly visual adventures and miracles and stories-within-the-story narrative. The funny ballooned comments of the various characters add a compelling contemporary sensibility to the adventures, not only preserving the tale's cheeky humor but enhancing it. Watercolor and ink arabesques and mosaics decorate panels, borders, and interiors; again, the ornate, formal details are never static, but enliven an already rollicking narative. Grand. Maps. Attribution to the Arabian Nights appears only on the jacket. (Picture book. 6-9) Read full book review >