The Dickens classic, reduced to 12 words and illustrated with felt dolls.
Readers familiar with the Wangs’ Cozy Classics will be unsurprised by their treatment of the weighty 19th-century tome. The action plays out in tableaux, one word per double-page spread: “boy / help / old / pretty / cry / money / city / manners / me! / sorry / fire / garden.” Some illustrations work better than others. “Old” Miss Havisham sports white hair and fairly credible wrinkles in her wedding gown, and green-eyed, creamy-skinned Estella is arguably “pretty.” But the tableau for “help,” in which Pip meets Magwitch in the graveyard, depicts a looming, shackled, bleeding man in rags and a boy holding a pie in one hand and evidently brandishing a knife in the other; readers will wonder why the word is not “fight” or “fright.” As a grown Pip contemplates “money,” he is shown at a table with two sacks bearing the symbol for the pound sterling. Though appropriate to the setting and the original work, it is also likely to be a mystifying image for American children, who will see no money at all. Pip unfolds a napkin before a grand repast, but the word it illustrates is not “repast,” “feast,” “dinner,” or even “food”; it is “manners.” The backdrops for the tableaux are sumptuous, and the attention to detail is admirable. But as a conveyance for meaning, this book is a flimsy one—and as a redaction of Great Expectations, it is ludicrous.
There is no question that the book is an attractive novelty, but, as with others in its series, it will serve its audience better as a teething toy than a gateway to literacy. (Board book. 1-3)