Search and Find A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Sarah Powell and Louise Pigott
|Search and Find A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Sarah Powell and Louise Pigott|
|Category: Emerging Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A picture book with things to seek in the suitably Dickensian artworks – but the story doesn't quite survive to show through such episodic presentation.|
|Buy? Maybe||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 48||Date: October 2017|
|Publisher: Studio Press|
|External links: Author's website|
Recently I got to applaud a book that branched away from the Where's Wally? style volume, and taught the explorer about a non-fiction subject as they went a-searching. Well, it seems tweaking the form is going to be a big thing, for this book tries yet another different approach – to teach us about a fictional story. They've started at the deep end, with a book hastening towards being two centuries old, and one that has been adapted countless times before now, yet always has people returning to it at a certain time of the year for its ageless lesson. But does the rich content of Dickens, even at his most populist, survive this quirky variation?
Well, yes and no – and I did give a clue. This really seemed to me to be teaching us about the story, as opposed to conveying it in full. Take scene three, which I'll choose at random to quote at length. It is the one in which… Scrooge's sight plays tricks on him; the door knocker seems to change shape; the house is empty, dark and quiet; Scrooge hears a dreadful moaning; Marley's ghost appears to Scrooge; the ghost brings a terrible warning; Scrooge must change his mean ways; and three ghosts will visit him that night. The pictorial accompaniment of that is fine – the haunted door-knocker in resplendent presence, and all four ghosts as seen through the large window frames of the Scrooge mansion. But that as narrative feels to me to be weak – it's little more than those bullet point summaries old novels of the classical age had that conveyed the contents of each chapter.
As regards that spread, too – and a lot of the other ones – the search-and-find element is fine, but a little easy. We have to seek some quite glaring things, and so decent is the narrative skill involved in the artwork they're all exactly where we expect to find them (on the earlier streetscape of London, all but one of the characters are outside their respective houses, and so are blatantly obvious to all but the very young). You do get a further test, beyond the opening diorama, of having to find a dozen or so of one item (although both I and the answer pages seem to think there are only nine hollies, not ten). And you also get the further test of things disappearing down between the two pages in the spread, but that's par for the course.
Perhaps I'm being a little churlish (bah, humbug) – as someone with an interest in how this approach to fiction could even work, I didn't know quite what to expect, and there is a lot here to note. This acts as a good counting book (only appropriate for all the counting of his money Scrooge was wont to do). It makes for a fine, if somewhat simplified Where's Wally. And it does count as a primer to the Dickens, even if it's perhaps a step too far to assume the full story gets across in brilliant fashion. I don't think you can convert any reasonable narrative into fourteen images, which is what you get here, and what with that and the bit-of-story, stop-for-looking-round, bit-more-of-story pacing, perhaps as a result the adult buying this may be borrowed a little more than they expected for their interpretative skills. Still, even if this book offers an interactivity Dickens would never have recognised, that purchase is not one that will exactly be regretted.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
That non-fictional book with much searching to undergo? It was Pirates Magnified: With a 3x Magnifying Glass by David Long and Harry Bloom. For another way in to the Dickens orginal, you can also try colouring it in.
You can read more book reviews or buy Search and Find A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Sarah Powell and Louise Pigott at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Search and Find A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, Sarah Powell and Louise Pigott at Amazon.com.
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