Anemic, dispirited distillations that argue eloquently for waiting till kids are ready for the originals.

A WORLD FULL OF DICKENS STORIES

Eight classic tales of rags to (literal or at least spiritual) riches, in long summary versions.

Arranged in no discernible order, the mini-tales open with chapter-length versions of Oliver Twist, close on Hard Times, and in between offer renditions of A Christmas Carol, David Copperfield, and four more dramas. Along with occasional full-page scenes Hansen adds an opening gallery of major characters to each entry and a smallish illustration on every page. These do a bit to relieve the dense-looking blocks of narrative—though her small, hunched, wooden-looking figures, almost all bearing the stark-white, pink-cheeked complexions of mimes, only intensify the general air of gloom. McAllister successfully encapsulates the themes, main events, and leading character types in each story. Her efforts to evoke Dickens’ rich language are, however, at best pedestrian: “If you are wondering if I turn out to be the hero then you must read on,” David Copperfield tells readers; “It was the best of times but also the worst of times”; “From that day on nobody ever celebrated the spirit of Christmas better than Ebenezer Scrooge. And may that be true of us all.” Young readers intimidated by the bulk of the originals will find a livelier invitation to take the plunge in Marcia Williams’ Charles Dickens and Friends (2002), particularly when conjoined with Deborah Hopkinson’s A Boy Called Dickens, illustrated by John Hendrix (2012).

Anemic, dispirited distillations that argue eloquently for waiting till kids are ready for the originals. (biographical note, timeline) (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: May 5, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-7112-4772-7

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Frances Lincoln

Review Posted Online: Jan. 21, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that...

BEN FRANKLIN'S IN MY BATHROOM!

Antics both instructive and embarrassing ensue after a mysterious package left on their doorstep brings a Founding Father into the lives of two modern children.

Summoned somehow by what looks for all the world like an old-time crystal radio set, Ben Franklin turns out to be an amiable sort. He is immediately taken in hand by 7-year-old Olive for a tour of modern wonders—early versions of which many, from electrical appliances in the kitchen to the Illinois town’s public library and fire department, he justly lays claim to inventing. Meanwhile big brother Nolan, 10, tags along, frantic to return him to his own era before either their divorced mom or snoopy classmate Tommy Tuttle sees him. Fleming, author of Ben Franklin’s Almanac (2003) (and also, not uncoincidentally considering the final scene of this outing, Our Eleanor, 2005), mixes history with humor as the great man dispenses aphorisms and reminiscences through diverse misadventures, all of which end well, before vanishing at last. Following a closing, sequel-cueing kicker (see above) she then separates facts from fancies in closing notes, with print and online leads to more of the former. To go with spot illustrations of the evidently all-white cast throughout the narrative, Fearing incorporates change-of-pace sets of sequential panels for Franklin’s biographical and scientific anecdotes. Final illustrations not seen.

It’s not the first time old Ben has paid our times a call, but it’s funny and free-spirited, with an informational load that adds flavor without weight. (Graphic/fantasy hybrid. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 26, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-93406-7

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Schwartz & Wade/Random

Review Posted Online: May 10, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Not a stand-alone, unlike the opener, but still a worthy tale built around a core of clashing cultures and shared human...

THE RAIDERS

From the Inuk Quartet series , Vol. 2

The second episode in the Danish author's Inuk Quartet sends young Icelander Leiv and his Inuit friends on a new mission of vengeance after Viking raiders plunder his newfound Greenland home.

They have spent an idyllic spring and summer recovering from the trek in Shipwreck (2011); it's been interrupted only by a quick clash with a longship captained by the brutal Thorleifsson brothers. Now, Apuluk and Narua set out to rejoin their nomadic clan with Leiv in tow. That friendly visit turns into a punitive expedition after the Thorleifssons massacre most of a native settlement and loot Leiv's new home. The translated narrative reads smoothly, and high production values result in a handsome, open page design. Its visual appeal is enhanced by Cann's stylized but crisply drawn and richly colored images of arctic wildlife and fur-clad human residents. Though wordy descriptions of seasonal cycles and farm life slow down the first several chapters, the pacing picks up on the way to a violent climax, gory ends for the bad guys, and (pointing to developments in volumes to come) Leiv's decision to explore northward in search of a land route to fabled Vinland.

Not a stand-alone, unlike the opener, but still a worthy tale built around a core of clashing cultures and shared human values.   (Historical fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Oct. 1, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-84686-744-6

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Barefoot

Review Posted Online: May 2, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2012

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet
more