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 >