Book reviews - adaptations

Adaptations of classic novels can be a good way to familiarise children with great works of literature. Often highly illustrated, they are appealing and attractive to children and are a good way of making books accessible. They can vary enormously in quality and faithfulness to the original and they should never be a substitute for reading the original, just an introduction. More adaptations can be found on our general fiction pages. Many of these books are beautifully produced editions which make excellent gifts.

The Jungle Book (Classics Here and Now) by Rob Hunter

Stolen as a baby and taken in by a pack of street dogs, Mowgli grows up in the jungle of urban Mumbai. As he grows into a man, his life is threatened by the tiger Shere Khan. With the help of Bagheera the panther and Baloo the bear, Mowgli learns that he must become the master of his own fate. The dramatic illustrations are a stand-out feature of the book - they are richly coloured and superbly patterned, capturing the feel of the jungle. This simple but stunning retelling brings Rudyard Kipling’s tale to a new audience and is the first in a series of classic texts reimagined in the modern day; it's a great start.

Gulliver adapted by Mary Webb

This memorable classic takes the reader into the amazing worlds travelled by Lemuel Gulliver; the adaptation is written for young readers so they can enjoy these stories. In Lilliput, he is a giant compared to the tiny people there, followed by the reverse in Brobdingnag, where Gulliver finds himself in a country of giants. Full of humour and adventure, these exciting stories have survived the centuries and are now retold and re-imagined with thrilling illustrations. The story is perfect for young children, who will appreciate the excitement and the adventures of Gulliver as he meets people big and small.

Sleeping Beauty by Sarah Gibb

We all know the story - A wicked fairy casts an evil spell on baby Princess Rosebud: when she is sixteen, she will prick her finger on a spinning wheel and die. But the good fairy says that Rosebud will sleep for 100 years. When the princess pricks her finger, all the inhabitants of the castle fall asleep... until Prince Florizel comes to the rescue. This ia a lovely hardback gift edition with beautifully atmospheric illustrations which wrap around the text. There are some sweet touches, such as the fairies flying in with their envelopes. The retelling is powerful and engaging. A book to treasure.

Alice in Wonderland (Picture Storybooks) Adapted from Lewis Carroll by Susie Linn

Alice can be a hard book to understand, so this retelling makes an ideal introduction to the classic story. Produced to celebrate the 150th anniversary, this well adapted version brings the story to life through the engaging text and the superbly depicted characters (their facial expressions are superb!) in the illustrations. There is plenty of beautiful detail on each page to ponder over and to make this book rewarding to read, share and enjoy. All the key elements are here, succinctly told to give a good overall introduction to the story.

The Return of the Jabberwock by Oakley Graham

Nothing is quite what it seems when a brave little boy sets off to find and defeat a real-life Jabberwock, just as his grandfather before him did. In mysterious Tulgey Wood he encounters all manner of fantastical creatures and Lewis Carroll's dark and dangerous dreamscape creatures are never far from the boy's mind as he ventures ever deeper into the forest. the darkness of the pictures sets the scene to perfection and you can feel the fear and the awe - and then the silhouettes turn into something far less ferocious. I enjoyed the page at the end which teaches children about Lewis Carroll's use of language.

Classic Collection: Theseus and the Minotaur by Saviour Pirotta

Perfect to support KS2 learning about ancient civilisations, QED have brought out a wide range of classical myths, retold in an engaging fashion which will appeal to today's children without losing the flavour of the original stories. Theseus heads to Athens to meet his father, overcoming many obstacles on his travels. Once there he discovers 14 Athenians are about to be sent to the man-eating Minotaur, which lives in an elaborate labyrinth in Crete. He volunteers, determined to prove himself a hero. Will he defeat the monster? And how will he escape the labyrinth? Also available in this collectable series is Classic Collection: Perseus and Medusa. The goddess Athena has turned Medusa into a hideous monster, with golden wings, snakes for hair and a look that can turn men to stone. Perseus is tricked by King Polydectes into hunting down the terrifying Medusa. Athena decides to help Perseus, and with some magical gifts he sets off for the monster's lair. Can Perseus defeat the mighty Medusa?

Classic Collection: Jason & the Golden Fleece (Classic Greek Mythologies) told by Saviour Pirotta

King Pelias has set Jason an impossible task - to capture the Golden Fleece which is protected by a giant serpent that never sleeps. Even getting there presents huge challenges. Well told, with vivid descriptive language, this is highly readable. Classic myths and legends fit well into the KS2 curriculum so this book will be a good addition to classroom and school libraries. The Greek myths are as exciting as many modern stories and this is a good way to introduce them to children - try Classic Collection: The Twelve Tasks of Hercules by the same author.Hercules is set twelve seemingly impossible tasks. They range from destroying the many-headed Hydra to fetching the goddess Hera's golden apples. Each one will test Hercules, and if he triumphs, make him a hero. This well presented series includes a wide range of stories and the attractive format makes them ideal to collect and build up a classic library.

Classic Collection: Frankenstein (Classic Horror) retold by Saviour Pirotta

Mary Shelley's classic tells the story of Victor Frankenstein, an aspiring scientist born into a wealthy family, who discovers a secret technique to reanimate dead tissue. What will he create - will it be the beautiful creation that he dreams of? Contemporary language and striking full page colour illustrations make these books very appealing. By the nature of the story, this and its companion volume Classic Collection: Dracula are suited to somewhat older readers, for whom they provide a good basic introduction to the genre. The attractive bindings make these a lovely series to collect or give as gifts.

Classic Collection: Sleepy Hollow retold by Saviour Pirotta

This story, by Washington Irving, may be slightly less well-known than others in this series; that's a good thing as it's excellent to see it featured and children encouraged to read the story. Everyone in Sleepy Hollow believes in ghosts and ghouls and loves to tell spooky stories, their favourite being the legend of the headless horseman. However, things become a little too real for Ichabod, the village teacher, when that very ghost appears one night and chases him. Why is the horseman after Ichabod and will he escape? These stories are really well told, with fast-paced action and an excellent feel for the original. With full page colour illustrations that really add to the atmosphere of the story, and attractive bindings, these are good collectables. Robert Louis Stevenson's classic Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde completes the new releases in this varied collection.

Classics Unfolded: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

This is an interesting and unusual way to engage children with the classics. They will thoroughly enjoy the novelty of the approach, which has 14 scenes to unfold, each illustrated in full colour. Each illustration includes a quote from the original and I love to see this in an adaptation, so readers can get a feel for the text. There is a sentence or two for each picture and these do a good job of summarising the key events. There is also a 30 second summary and a list of characters. It (or two copies) would make an excellent basis for a classroom display.

David Copperfield retold by Marcia Williams

David Copperfield follows the life of a young boy as he grows to adulthood and is full of wonderful characters and enthralling tales. I am not always comfortable with retellings of great classics but when done by an exceptional storyteller such as Marcia Williams they do provide an excellent resource to interest younger readers. The lively cartoon-style illustrations and accessible story telling make a story that young readers will thoroughly enjoy and hopefully they will appreciate the great stories Dickens told and go on to read them as they are older.

Classic Collection: Jason & the Golden Fleece (Classic Greek Mythologies) told by Saviour Pirotta

King Pelias has set Jason an impossible task - to capture the Golden Fleece which is protected by a giant serpent that never sleeps. Even getting there presents huge challenges. Well told, with vivid descriptive language, this is highly readable. Classic myths and legends fit well into the KS2 curriculum so this book will be a good addition to classroom and school libraries. The Greek myths are as exciting as many modern stories and this is a good way to introduce them to children - try Classic Collection: The Twelve Tasks of Hercules (Classic Greek Mythologies) by the same author.

Classic Collection: Frankenstein (Classic Horror) retold by Saviour Pirotta

Victor Frankenstein, an aspiring scientist born into a wealthy family, discovers a secret technique to reanimate dead tissue. What will he create - will it be the beautiful creation that he dreams of? Contemporary language and striking full page colour illustrations make these books very appealing. By the nature of the story, this and its companion volume Classic Collection: Dracula (Classic Horror) are suited to somewhat older readers, for whom they provide a good basic introduction to the genre. The attractive bindings make these a lovely series to collect or give as gifts.

QED Classic Collection: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

In this abridged version of the much-loved classic, young children can join Cabin boy Jim Hawkins aboard the Hispaniola, and set sail with him for Treasure Island. With a horde of fierce crewmates, Jim embarks on a thrilling adventure in search of Captain Flint's buried gold. But danger lies ahead as Jim wonders if the crew can be trusted, and discovers what is actually lurking on the island. The Classic Collection series makes a lovely set for children to collect, with attractive covers and ribbon bookmarks. Each page of writing is complemented by an illustration on the facing page which helps to bring the stories alive for children. Also available - QED Classic Collection: Alice in Wonderland

QED Classic Collection: The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

"All for one and one for all!" Join Athos, Porthos, Aramis and their brave new friend d'Artagnan in a world of thrilling swordfights and deadly schemes. See how they challenge their cunning enemies on their missions to do good for their nation. QED have carefully selected the stories in their Classic Collection to give children the opportunity to read a wide range of different stories, all guaranteed to appeal. At just 48 pages, they are easy and approachable reads. The wide variety means there is something for everyone. The attractive presentation will go a long way towards encouraging a love of great literature and hopefully stimulate children to read the original versions. QED Classic Collection: Little Women is also newly published.

Pinocchio by Michael Morpurgo

Michael Morpurgo has brought his amazing talent to bear on this well-known story to produce an outstanding book - aided by Emma Chichester's Clark's fantastic (and fantastical) illustrations. Now you can hear the story from Pinocchio's own perspective as the story is told in his own cheeky words which immediately makes this re-telling stand out. This is a beautiful adaptation and one which hides plenty of surprises - you may have a different view of the puppet Pinocchio by the end. A cast of very special characters joins Pinocchio on his adventures and they are all vividly brought to life in the illustrations. A beautifully written and illustrated book which will make a wonderful gift.

Alice Through the Looking Glass (Best-loved Classics) adapted and illustrated by Emma Chichester Clark

The sequel to Alice in Wonderland. Step through the looking-glass into a topsy-turvy, magical world in this gloriously illustrated picture book re-telling of Lewis Carroll’s enduring classic. Alice walks through a mirror straight into a whimsical and colourful world peopled by some very odd characters - the walrus and the carpenter, Tweedledum and Tweedledee, Humpty Dumpty, the White Knight and the Red Queen, to name but a few on her way to the eighth square where, the Red Queen promised, she will be a queen. Imaginative and packed with bright, detailed and intriguing pictures.

The Wizard of Oz (Classic Collection) adapted by Ronne Randall 

The classic tale of Dorothy and her little dog, Toto,who get swept into the Land of Oz by a cyclone. They meet a living Scarecrow, a man made entirely of tin, and a Cowardly Lion while trying to get to the Emerald City to see the great Wizard. This adaptation tells the story in easy to read text which still retains the interest of the original. The illustrations are a key feature in the enjoyment of this book - there is a full page picture to every page of text, ensuring children's interest and understanding are enhanced. Another new title in the series from QED is Heidi (Classic Collection) 

Pinnochio (Classic Collection) adapted by Ronne Randall 

Young readers can enjoy the tale of mischievous Pinocchio, an animated wooden puppet created by his father, a woodcarver named Geppetto. Children will be familiar with the story, and especially the threat that their nose might grow if they tell lies, so they will enjoy being able to read about the impish puppet for themselves. The story reads well and flows freely, and children wil enjoy the happy ending. Maybe they will learn something too! Again, the pictures add much to the story and to children's enjoyment

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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