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Graphic Oliver

For my next installment of “What’s on my nightstand?” I had to ask for an expert’s help: someone who was familiar with the graphic novel format.  I chose to move this book from my nightstand to my nine-year-old’s nightstand because the next book is Oliver Twist: The Classics Illustrated Deluxe Graphic Novel.

Here’s a portion of my interview with the expert.

Hello? Mom?  It’s not going to be an interview if there are not any questions.
So what do you think I should ask you?
Whatever you want.
Did you like the book?
Yes. I liked it.
Do you think you might consider reading the original?
maybe.
What were your favorite parts of the book?
I liked the Maylies and how they helped Oliver.
Did Oliver work for Mr. Soweberry?
Who’s he again?
The undertaker.
Yes.
Does Oliver say, “Please, I’d like some more, sir.”
Yes.
Did you know that that’s the most famous line from the book?
No.
Who was your favorite character in the book?
I liked Oliver Twist.  He didn’t steal.
What did you think of Fagin?
I didn’t like him.  He used his boys to get money.
Were there any evil characters in the story?
Yes.  Fagin, definitely, and Bill.
How did the story end?
The the police hang Fagin.
What happens to Oliver?
He’s happy with Mr. Brownlow in the end.

It took my expert about forty-five minutes to read this version.  Unlike some graphic novels, the illustrations were not overly scary.  The “bad” characters are meaner looking but still in a cartoony way.  For example Fagin has an enormous nose. Oliver’s depicted as a red-head with a round face.  In the little I flipped through the book, it seems more faithful to the original text than other versions I’ve read.

Oliver Twist: The Classics Illustrated Deluxe Graphic Novel.… it’s what’s on my nine-year-old’s nightstand.

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Posted by on July 21, 2012 in Oliver Twist

 

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Not so surprised

When you started reading Anna Karenina did you know what was going to happen to our main character in the end?

If you haven’t finished the novel, back away slowly.  This post gives it all away.

I knew.  Before we ever started reading Tolstoy, I knew.  If taking a GRE had been a prerequisite to starting this DIY master’s degree program, I would have aced the question, “How does Anna Karenina die?”

It’s not because I’m a smarty-pants.  It was simply a part of my general knowledge.  Random literary stuff I’d heard at one point or another.  Like how I knew there was a guy named Ishmael in Moby-Dick , or that Hester had to wear an “A” for adultery, or that Oliver Twist would say, “Please sir, may I have some more?”

So? Why all the rambling?

I felt cheated out of the end of Anna Karenina.  I knew she was going to commit suicide a lá train, and it was just a matter of when it was going to happen.

When it did finally happen (and I do mean finally–when do editors come on the scene?), I wasn’t moved by the act at all.  My thoughts were more of, “Yep.  Anna’s dead.  That’s a bummer.  Wonder what’s going to happen to Vronsky now.”

I realize I’m avoiding all sorts of issues with Anna’s death: Was she suffering from mental illness?  Would Vronsky have eventually tired of her jealousy and left her?  Was she remorseful in the moment before she died?  Why did Tolstoy kill her off?  Had it come to the point of logical exhaustion for the character?  Is her death the fulfillment of the Scripture passage at the beginning of the book?
Oh, there are so many questions we could discuss.

But what I’m really wondering is there anyone out there that read the book not knowing about Anna’s demise beforehand?  and if so, what was your reaction?

Now stay with me.  I’ll come to a question.  Eventually.

My family is one that reads.  Lots.  We are a family that reads a book together in the evenings and listens to audio books in the car.  One of my absolute favorite family memories involves my husband reading aloud to us by flashlight while we camped.  I have to say that having my children witness me working through the WEM list is a good thing.  It has to be.  They see mom reading (always a bonus).  They see mom journaling: taking notes, asking questions, thinking hard.

But!

They too know that Oliver asked for more, and that Gulliver met talking horses.  They know that Christian made it to the Celestial City and that Madame Bovary died.  Some of these things they know because they learned them by reading the books themselves and some of them have “rubbed off” because it’s what I’m reading and I talk about the current book, and they ask me questions.

So…

Someday when they have to read Anna Karenina and they already know that she dies, will this add to or take away from their reading experience.  Will they think, “Hey, I know something about this story!  This is going to be great!”  or “Oh, man.  I knew she was a goner from the beginning.  Why bother reading this?”

What do you think?

 
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Posted by on November 21, 2012 in Anna Karenina

 

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Girl reads Gulliver

This installment of “What’s on my nightstand?” is about a book that’s been on my nightstand for weeks.  Every free moment I have, I’m reading Anna Karenina, so I did what I’ve done before… I pawned the book off on one of my children.  May I present…

Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver
retold by Martin Jenkins and illustrated by Chris Riddell

… and reviewed by this blogger’s daughter.

I chose to read this book because I thought it might be interesting.  The illustrations looked funny. (and because mom asked if anyone wanted to read the book and help her blog about it)

The book is about Gulliver.  He’s a sailor but he ends up going to all of these crazy places like with little tiny people, and huge people, and horses that talk.  He also visits an island and goes to Japan for a little bit.

Gulliver is pretty good in languages to be able to learn all the different ones so quickly.  He’s good with people.  He can talk himself out of the situations he gets himself into. 

My favorite section to read was the giants.  There’s no competition.  You know how girls like to play house with dolls?  That’s what it was like for Gulliver, except he was the doll.

My least favorite section to read was the house with all the ghosts.  I don’t like the idea of people coming back from the dead.  It was creepy how he talked to all the famous people like Alexander the Great.

The illustrations for this version were very good.  They helped you understand the story better.  With the Yahoos, you wouldn’t understand how bizarre they were without seeing the pictures.

I would read the story again.  It was fun to read and see all the places Gulliver went.

Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver… It’s what’s on a blogger’s daughter’s nightstand.

PS.  I, Christine, did quickly peruse the book.  It’s very accurate and the illustrations are a great addition to the story.  Gulliver visits all of the same places as in the original.  Sometimes the book was even a little too accurate–going so far as to include an illustration of the Yahoos in the tree trying to… trying to… well, you remember the ban.

 
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Posted by on October 12, 2012 in Gulliver's Travels

 

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How to Read Depressing Literature

Susan Wise Bauer gives us all sorts of fabulous tips on how to read in The Well-Educated Mind.  She does not, however specifically address how to tackle Oliver Twist and it seems that some readers are struggling with drudgery, sarcasm, and dismal nature of this novel.  I, however, am eating it up.  While this probably speaks mostly to my disturbed personality I am channeling that dark enjoyment into a few handy tips.

Tip I
Ignore reality.  Pretend like the 19th century England that Dickens illustrates is as fictitious as Bromdingnag and Laputa.

Tip II
Imagine all characters as cartoons.  Add animated gags and tricks, including “Pow!” graphics, tweeting birds flying in circles around people’s heads, and characters that disappear when they turn sideways because they’re so underfed.

Tip III
Concentrate on the writing, rather than the plot.  Dickens crafts some gorgeous sentences.  Much better than these.  With verbs and everything.  Admire the craft.

Tip IV
Think about all the good that was accomplished by this writing, about how this scathing exposition on society helped to reform and provide aid to those in need.  Warning:  This tip does not work in conjunction with Tip I, so use it judiciously, and only when you are already in a state of melancholy.

Tip V
Buy into the sarcasm.  Laugh at it.  Work it into your conversations.  Maybe even your blog post.  Of course, I would never do such a thing.

 
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Posted by on November 26, 2011 in Oliver Twist

 

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