Review Blog

Mar 16 2016

Quentin Blake's A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

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Ill. by Quentin Blake. HarperCollins, 2016. ISBN 9781843653035
A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens is one of the most enduring Christmas stories of all time. It has been described as "the book that defines the Christmas spirit" as Ebenezer Scrooge, a mean-spirited miser, is visited by three ghosts one Christmas Eve. They show Scrooge the true value of Christmas: charity, good humour and love for his fellow man and turn his attitude around.
Since its publication in 1843, it has been available in many different editions and formats that it would seem superfluous for there to be yet another one. But - while this one is an unabridged version it has been illustrated by Quentin Blake and that is the special drawcard. When Miss 9 was here recently, she saw it in the pile and immediately recognised his unique style through her familiarity with the Roald Dahl stories she loves and sat down to read it, even though Christmas was well past.
Suddenly the story that I've had in a leather-bound, tissue-paper tome given to my grandmother over 100 years ago became accessible to this current generation of the family. When there were questions to be asked because at that stage she was unfamiliar with the England it was set in, we had fun exploring the answers and her reading repertoire expanded to historical fiction! Now, as her school studies open up the world of the England that spawned the First Fleet and Australia's early European settlers, she has a basic understanding that is making it all make so much more sense to her.
Last Christmas I was in a school library and I instituted the Christmas Countdown which involved a guest reader sharing a new Christmas-based book each day, an activity which proved to be a very popular lunchtime focus. But this version of this classic, read as a chapter or two a day, would prove a worthy alternative. Or you could suggest it to a teacher to share with their class on a similar basis.
Christmas is abound with stories to share but there is a reason that A Christmas Carol has stood the test of time. Well-written and now perfectly illustrated in a style that is familiar to many, there is a whole new generation able to appreciate it.
Barbara Braxton

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