Review Blog

Nov 03 2010

Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol retold by Martin Howard

cover image

Ill. by Carlo Molinari and Chris Gould. Hardie Grant Egmont, 2009.
ISBN 978-192156420-8
This attractively produced picture book version of Dickens' story does not live up to its early promise.
Martin Howard retells Charles Dickens' classic story of mean Ebenezer Scrooge's encounter with the ghosts of Christmas past, present and future and his eventual redemption. The book is lavishly illustrated with sliders, flaps, add-ins and a pop up centre depicting the ghost of Christmas present. The text appears in blocks around the brightly coloured illustrations of Victorian London interspersed with panels of extra information, recipes and games. What makes this an uncomfortable format is the density of the text, a lot to read aloud as a story book and confusingly disjointed when constructing a continuous narrative from the parts. A lot of the illustrations depict sinister subjects and sections of the text are quite scary. Unless familiar with the happy ending, readers dipping into the separate parts of the book could be left with a worryingly negative view of what should be a happy time of year.
The pop-ups and extras are not particularly exciting and would make this a fragile book to have in a school library.
Not recommended for readers under 9 years.
Sue Speck

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