'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Thursday 23 April 2015

Book List: Classics Redone

The classics will never die, and nor should they. Over the years, publishers have taken classic children's stories and retold them as abridged fiction for a variety of ages, picture books with a variety of amazing illustrators, as graphic novels or even parodies.

Here is a line-up (both recent and older) of great classic stories--retold.

Scholastic, $35.95, February 2015, 9781623540494, ages 4 - 10
Alice in Wonderland is one of the most wondrous, truly original stories ever written--filled with magical and marvelous happenings. On its 150th anniversary in 2015, Lewis Carroll's tale of a world gone topsy-turvy gets a unique picture-book retelling of the beginning of Alice's journey, with elegantly simplified text that keeps all of the astonishing adventures and wide-eyed amazement of the original. What a wonderful Introduction for young children to many of the classic Carroll characters. Many of the most famous phrases are here--like 'Curiouser and curiouser' to prepare youngsters for the time they're ready to read the whole book in its original form.

New Frontier, $27.99, March 2015, 9781925059304, ages 5 - 10
Real isn't how you are made. It's a thing that happens when a child loves you. More than anything else, the Velevteen Rabbit wants to become real — just like the wild rabbits he's seen in the woods. But can the Boy help make the Rabbit's wish come true? First published in 1922, the classic children’s story about a velveteen rabbit on a quest to become real through the love of his owner is brought to life with new illustrations by the talented Helene Magisson.

The Five Mile Press, $19.95, February 2012, 9780764165986, ages 3 - 7 
Classic Fairy Tale Pop-Ups are delightfully retold favorite stories, enhanced with fresh new illustrations that have surprising pop-up features on every two-page spread. As kids turn each page, the characters come to life--moving, playing, running, and adding an extra dimension to each story. In this tale, Little Red Riding Hood knows that danger lurks in the dark woods. But is she ready for the danger that awaits her at Granny's house? Review

Bloomsbury, $19.99, November 2014, 9781408861981, ages 8+
A visually stunning reimagining of the classic fairy tale Hansel and Gretel by master storyteller Neil Gaiman, beautifully illustrated by the award-winning Lorenzo Mattotti. The enduring story of the children, the breadcrumb trail and the gingerbread house is brought to life by master storyteller, Neil Gaiman. Who better to retell the Brothers Grimm's greatest, and perhaps darkest, fairy tale, Hansel and Gretel? Coupled with breathtakingly haunting illustrations from Lorenzo Mattotti, you will be enticed into the world and into the woods . . . so beware. Review

National Library Publishing, $24.99, May 2014, 9780642278517, ages 4 - 12
As far as the Fairy Queen was concerned, the Fairy-who-wouldn't-fly was lazy and so she banished her to the Woodn't, the place where she had sent all the other creatures who wouldn't do as they should. There, the Fairy-who-wouldn't-fly met many friends-the Kookaburra-who-wouldn't laugh, the Bee-who-wouldn't-live-in-a-hive, the Frog-who-wouldn't-hop. Find out how they worked together to return to Fairyland, and how they convinced the Fairy Queen that they had good ideas of their own about how to live their lives. The magic tale of The Fairy Who Wouldn't Fly, adapted by Bronwyn Davies for today's children, was originally written and illustrated by Pixie O'Harris in 1945. Review

Walker Books, $39.95 , April 2014, 9781922244048, ages 8+
The astonishing tale of how the old woodcarver Geppetto made a disobedient puppet boy from an unusual piece of wood, who could talk, dance and turn somersaults, has been a much-loved story since it was first written more than 130 years ago. In this handsome new edition, award-winning illustrator Robert Ingpen has captured the rascally Pinocchio and his extraordinary escapades as never before, breathing new excitement into this enchanting classic. Review

Atlas Jones, $15, June 2013, 978064659581, ages 4+
Like a very famous Wild Thing, Beatrice makes some mischief at home. She is sent to her room where a cheekier, freakier world comes to life. For readers with a sense of humour. Review

HarperCollins, $16.99, July 2014, 9780732297985, ages 12+
The world's most famous love story told by one of Australia's most respected authors, this is the well-known story of Juliet Capulet and her love for Romeo. It also the story about the increasing helplessness Juliet feels as she realises that unlike young men her age, her life will effectively be determined and controlled by others. I am Juliet closely follows the well-known and loved plot of the play, but we also see the point of view of Rob, the thirteen-year-old boy who is the first to play the role of Juliet on the Elizabethan stage. Like many young people today, he too is overwhelmed by 'all those words' that Shakespeare wrote. He will be Juliet and let the power of the words sing - as they still do today. Review

Goldilocks - Allan Ahlberg
Walker Books, $27.99, October 2012, 9781406330052, ages 4 - 10
Everyone knows what happened when Goldilocks met the three bears. But when she encounters a whopping thirty-three bears, a strange-talking Blim, or even three little pigs on her search for porridge, the stories end a bit differently. Lift the flaps and pull the tabs to join Goldilocks in a hilarious series of adventures, as award-winning storyteller Allan Ahlberg and his daughter, Jessica, put their own stamp on a timeless tale. Review

Simon and Schuster, $59.99, October 2013, 9781416960805, ages 6 - 10
Come along on a magical journey under the sea in this stunning pop-up adaptation of the beloved fairy tale "The Little Mermaid," expertly crafted by renowned paper engineer Robert Sabuda. Amazing three-dimensional paper structures pop off each page, bringing this classic underwater adventure to life. This visually stunning tale of adventure, true love, and sacrifice is sure to become a favorite in any story-lover's library.

Allen & Unwin, $55, April 2015, 9781741756425, ages 14+
Richly imagined, this is an audaciously brilliant tour de force from the creator of the graphic novel adaptation of The Great Gatsby. Denmark is in turmoil. The palace is seething with treachery, suspicion and intrigue. On a mission to avenge his father's murder, Prince Hamlet tries to claw free of the moral decay all around him. But in the ever-deepening nest of plots, of plays within plays, nothing is what it seems. In this sumptuous staging of Shakespeare's enigmatic play on the page, Nicki Greenberg has created an extraordinary visual feast that sweeps up all in its path as the drama intensifies both on stage and off. An astounding work - unique, gripping and, as ever, tragic.

Thames & Hudson, $29.95, October 2012, 9780500650066, ages 8 - 12
This is a beautiful collection of seven fairy tales--Sleeping Beauty, The Frog Prince, Rapunzel, Cinderella, Snow White, The Princess and the Pea, and The Twelve Dancing Princesses--organized around the theme of the fairytale princess and retold in a fresh and lyrical voice by Wendy Jones. Each story is illustrated with glorious papercut sculptures specially created by Su Blackwell. The magic and other worldliness of traditional fairytale collections meet glorious, contemporary paper constructions, making a charming addition to the shelf of bedtime stories. Review

Nosy Crow, $14.99, June 2013, 978085763108, ages 4 - 8
Lily-Rose May will not eat her peas. Even when her father turns them into the most fabulous smoothies, shakes or cupcakes, Lily can always tell they are there, and throws a terrible tantrum. Luckily, the doctor knows exactly what to do. He diagnoses an incurable case of Princess-itus and sends Lily to live at the palace. Unfortunately for Lily Rose May, the perfect food for a princess is ... well. That would be telling! A rhyming, modern take on a traditional tale that will have every child begging for more of those little green marvels. Review

Walker Books, $29.95, October 2010, 9781406325447, ages 8+
A lone pilot stranded in the desert is awoken by a little prince, and they become friends. The prince comes from a tiny nameless planet far away. All that exists on his planet are three volcanoes and a flower. Yet, when the flower became difficult to please, like and understand, the little prince left in search of new friends and places. Only when face to face with the absurdities of the adult world, does he finally realize how special all that he has really is to him. A magnificently modern take, this graphic novel will appeal to older children. Review

Scholastic, $24.99, October 2014, 9781742836447, ages 4 - 7
There once was an ugly duckling,
With feathers all stubby and brown,
And the other birds, in so many words, said,
‘Get out of town!’

A picture book based on the much-loved and heart-warming song. Includes a CD performed by popular children’s entertainer Justine Clarke. Review

Allen & Unwin, $29.99, October 2012, 9781742376509, ages 6 - 12
A magnificent illustrated edition of Oscar Wilde's famous and moving story. The children always played in the Giant's garden, but when he returned after years away, he said, 'What are you doing here?' and the children fled. 'My own garden is my own garden,' said the Giant; 'anyone can understand that, and I will allow nobody to play in it but myself.' Oscar Wilde's classic tale of forgiveness is one of the most beautiful stories in the English language.  With magnificent illustrations by Ritva Voutila, this is a book for the whole family to treasure. Review

HarperCollins, $14.99, April 2011, 9780207172847, ages 4 - 10
Mulga Bill′s Bicycle was written by Banjo Paterson in 1896. It was written at a time when cycling was a relatively new and popular social activity. Cycles were ridden everywhere, including in the outback by shearers and other workers who needed to travel cheaply. It tells the hilarious story of Mulga Bill, who thinks he′s much better at cycling than he turns out to be. A resounding crash sends him back to his original mode of transport - his trusty horse. Kilmeny and Deborah Niland′s delightful illustrations catch the mood and humour of Paterson′s verse with great spirit, and this book has become an enduring classic. Review

Penguin Australian Children's Classics Series