Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Charles Dickens and Friends: Five Lively Retellings by Marcia Williams

Charles Dickens and Friends: Five Lively Retellings by Marcia Williams

Charles Dickens, Marcia Williams
Illustrator:  Marcia Williams 
Picture Book
For ages 8 to 12
Candlewick Press, 2006   ISBN: 978-0763631987

In this unique book Marcia Williams is going to present five of Charles Dickens’ most well known stories in a colorful graphic rich comic book style format. The words spoken by the characters in the stories were taken directly from the original books as written by Charles Dickens himself. The narrative is an excellent retelling of these original stories; a retelling which captures the essence of Charles Dickens’ timeless tales.

To begin with we follow the adventures and misadventures of Oliver Twist who has the audacity to ask the orphanage master for more food. For this crime Oliver is sold to an undertaker and then, when it all becomes too much, Oliver runs away to the great city of London.

In “Great Expectations” a young boy called Pip makes the mistake of falling in love with a proud rich girl called Estelle. When he is a young man he is given the means to go to London to be educated and to become a young gentleman. Perhaps now Estelle will consider him to be an acceptable suitor for her hand.

“A Tale of Two Cities” is a story which is set in Paris at the time of the French Revolution. It is a time of great fear and danger. Dr. Manette has been freed from prison by the Paris mob and is now on his way to London with his daughter Lucie and a friend. During the crossing to England they meet Charles Darney and later, when Darney is accused of being a spy, Lucie Manette does her best to defend him. What she does not know is that Charles Darney is not who he says he is.

David Copperfield is, like poor Oliver Twist, a young boy who falls on hard times. David’s life begins well enough but when his mother marries the evil Mr. Murdstone, things change. David is sent away to a dreadful boarding school until his poor mother dies. Now he is truly at the mercy of Mr. Murdstone and who knows what is to become of him next.

In “A Christmas Carol” a miserly old man called Ebenezer Scrooge is taught a very valuable lesson about the meaning of Christmas. Ghosts take him to his past, to the present, and to his future and he is able to see that though he once was a cheerful and kind person, he is now a mean and cruel man who has no friends and no family. Worse still, if he does not mend his ways he will die a lonely death mourned by no one.

All in all this is an excellent introduction to the works of Charles Dickens. Bursting with life and true to Dickens’ world, this book is sure to entertain young readers of all kinds.