They do a reasonable job of capturing the key moments and preserving the tragic spirit of the original work but why? The story is littered with grave robbing, corpse dissection, multiple murder and themes not often thought suitable for children. Although the back of the book does state adults, children and the reluctant reader.
The art is lovely to look at. Written in 1980 (it doesn’t even have a barcode on the back) there is nothing digital in sight with the whole work done in watercolour and gouache. It feels like a Raymond Briggs book but the most panels per page are eight with the average being four. There are a lot of full page panels and in an A4 book this makes it a rapid read. The art does get a lot of attention with plenty of small details for the inquisitive reader to peer into.
The monster appears distinctive and different but not grotesque. There are no scars or bolts in the neck here. He is enlarged and a mouldy green colour. His expression appears very peaceful and thoughtful with an innocent inquisitiveness that makes you feel sorry for the wrong that humanity does him.
The more I think about this book the more I like it. Reading it is like an aide memoire of the original, a pleasant reminder of one of Britain’s great literary treasures. I am not sure if I would give it to children though. Having said that, in these days of the internet it is probably more wholesome than a lot of the alternatives.
It was a quirky find, respectful and faithful to the original and pleasant to read. For that it just reaches the Thumbs Up!
Tomorrow: Malcolm X: The Angriest Man in America – Wayne Massop