Tag Archives: children’s book

Pop Goes the Whale

I am a fan of pop-up books.  This Moby-Dick one created by Sam Ita is amazing.

Moby-Dick: a pop-up book

Since not everyone is finished reading The Whale, I’ll just share a page or two.

It’s the Pequod!  With rigging!  See the flap on the left?  You can lift it for another pop-up.  That hand in the lower right?  It’s Queequeg’s; when you open it, he’s holding yojo.

In just twelve pages Sam Ita has boiled down the blubber of Moby-Dick and given us the best of the story.


Posted by on April 26, 2012 in Moby-Dick


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“The Pursuit and Escape”

 “The Pursuit and Escape” is what Dickens titles chapter L of Oliver Twist.  Have you reached this chapter yet, readers?  If not… consider this a spoiler alert and come back to this post when you’ve finished the chapter.

You’re done already?  Wow, you are fast readers.

Chapter L is the chapter where Bill Sikes flees to the “house” on Jacob’s Island.  The angry crowd finds him there.  He plans to escape off the roof using a rope. 

“At the very instant when he brought the loop over his head previous to slipping it beneath his arm-pits…”

You remember what comes next: Sikes’ accidental hanging.  This is almost as gruesome as Nancy’s death. 

Let me show you the original illustrator’s depiction of this chapter.  George Cruikshank called it “The Last Chance”.  We see Sikes on the roof with his dog.  If we look closely, we can see a few faces in the windows of the nearby houses.

This is the picture from the same chapter in the Great Illustrated Classics version.  Illustrator Ric Estrada also shows Sikes and the dog on the roof with the rope, but he chose the perspective of the crowd on the ground.

I almost didn’t include the next illustration.  In fact, I purposefully left the size small because I found it so disturbing.  It comes from the Bullseye Step Into Classics series.  For this children’s adaptation of Oliver Twist, Jean Zallinger was the illustrator.  Zallinger decided to focus on the moment after Sikes was haunted by “the eyes” and fell to his death.  If you can ignore the body (which I’m not sure is possible), I rather like the horror depicted on the faces of what used to be a blood-thirsty crowd and is now a traumatized group of people.  Unlike Dickens’ original story, Oliver witnesses Sikes’ death in this version.  Quickly skimming the text, I found that there were lots of changes made to condense the story.

I am sure Dickens had his reasons for destroying Sikes in this particular way.  Just as I’m sure each of the illustrators had their reasons for depicting the scene in their own ways. 

I am particularly disturbed by the last illustration: both for its content and for the children who were meant to view it.  This book is a beginner chapter book.  Amazon has this title listed for children in grade one and up. 

Up until now I have really enjoyed the children’s adaptation of books that I have found.  Remember this one?  and this one?  There was even this one.  

But as the topics of our classic novels get darker, I’m going to be more cautious when I scout out children’s copies.

Fellow readers with children, how do you feel about versions of classic works made for kids?


Posted by on December 30, 2011 in Oliver Twist


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Good Grief! More Gulliver?

Look what I found.  No, it’s not the next title in the WEM list.  It’s a collection of classic stories Usborne has illustrated for children.  Check out the titles:

  • Robin Hood
  • Moonfleet
  • Around the World in Eighty Days
  • Robinson Crusoe
  • The Canterville Ghost

and wait for it…

  • Gulliver’s Travels

See why I had to immediately put a library hold on this book?!

This version of Part 1 of Gulliver’s Travels was retold by Gill Harvey and illustrated by Peter Dennis. 

Although some adaptations have been made, I think the story truer to Swift’s original than the pop-up book.

Gulliver is transported on a wooden cart to the capital city.


Gulliver's pockets are inspected for dangerous items.


The nobles compete in the game of "Leaping and Creeping".

 There are pages devoted to egg debate.  Of course Gulliver steals the naval vessals from the people of Blefescu.  There’s even an illustration of the fire that Gulliver puts out.
This version has him throwing water over the palace to save it. I prefer the change.
This version has Gulliver throwing “water over the palace to save it.”  That’s a small change I prefer.  One detail the storyteller did not change is how the nobles want to kill Gulliver or at least blind him at the end of Part 1.  Don’t worry.  Just like in Swift’s version, Gulliver escapes in a boat and is rescued by people his own size.
I like the Usborne version of Gulliver’s Travels, and I can’t wait until the library informs me that my next hold is ready for pickup.

Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Gulliver's Travels


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