Literary Genres: Classics

Brown, Marc.  ARTHUR’S NOSE: 25TH ANNIVERSARY Limited Edition.  Illus. by author. 
    Boston:  Little, 1976, 2001.  32p.  ISBN 0-316-11884-2; hb. $15.95.   PreS-Gr. 3     E

    Besides the complete text and illustrations of the original book by the same title, there is a letter from Marc Brown to families and friends that includes “Every child needs someone who believes in him or her and offers unconditional love; “ in his case it was his Grandma Thora who appears in the series.  Brown also tells how he gets his ideas—from real life.    There is a list of fun facts about Arthur and his family accompanied by drawings for 6 years between 1976 and 2000 that show changes in Arthur’s nose from being truly aardvarkian to non-ethnic.  A great project for kids would be to compare the illustrations in the original books.  A double page spread shows family pictures of Marc and Arthur in the third grade and various pictures of the Brown and Read families.  There is a page from the original manuscript as well as sketches and the original cover sketch accompanied by the one that was published.  A letter from Julie Cummins, Coordinator, Children’s Services, the New York Public Library (now editor of School Library Journal,) where she praises Arthur on behalf of librarians everywhere, gives several examples of how Arthur has impacted kids, and tells how Brown developed the character in response to his son’s request for a story about a “weird animal.”   Alphabetically and alliteratively, the animal became an aardvark named Arthur.  Purchase this book for teachers and librarians so they can provide background information about the famous aardvark but purchase it most of all for kids.  Even the cover is neat, it shows Arthur reading this book on the front and DW reading it upside down on the back, an example of art imitating life.   Since it is a limited edition, grab this book while it is still available.
    Mary Ann Paulin; Director; Superiorland Preview Center
    32 years of experience as a school library/media specialist

Burnett, Frances Hodgson.  THE SECRET GARDEN.  Illus. by Mary Collier.  New York: 
    HarperCollins, 1998.  32p.  ISBN 0-06-027853-6 hb. $14.95      PreS-Gr. 2      E

    Anyone who is familiar with Frances Hodgson Burnett's original, first published in 1849, will feel this adaptation is a bit too emaciated, but the outstandingly rich illustrations make up for the lack of narrative.  It will however, satisfy the appetites of the young who are familiar with the title but not yet old enough to read the real thing.  The storyline follows Mary Lennox's adventure when she is orphaned and comes to live at her uncle's large, desolate house with nothing do do and no one to play with.  When a hopping robin shows Mary the way to a mysterious and locked up secret garden she is determined to bring the garden back to life.  In so doing, Mary Lennox befriends Dickon and later, Colin and together the three of them discover the meaning of friendship, love and the magic of making things grow.
    Patricia Fittante, Children's Librarian, Escanaba Public Library, Escanaba, MI
    23 years of experience as a librarian or teacher

Burnette, Frances Hodgson.  THE SECRET GARDEN.   Illus by S. Saelig Gallagher.
    Books of Wonder Series.  New York:  HarperCollins, 2000.  345p.
    0-688-14582-5; hb., $18.95    99-23460    Gr. 4-8    FIC

    There are probably as many editions of this title as there are flowers in some gardens, but somehow there is always room for one more.  With the first glance at the book cover it is an obvious observation that Peter Glassman, who is the owner of Books of Wonder, specializes in new and old imaginative books for children.  The old-fashioned soft-colored, photograph-styled illustrations on a white background are what make this rendition so appealing and will force the reader to push the time-rewind button.  The charming story remains unaltered--Mary Lennox, a spoiled and sickly child, lives in India, and when her parents die because of a cholera epidemic, she goes to live with her rich uncle in England.  Mary gets stronger, makes new friends (Mary, Dickon and Colin), and experiences all sorts of adventures---especially regarding a secret  garden.  It is as charming a story as the day it was written so for anyone whose copy has become shop-worn, who needs a gift, or who needs an addition to their collection;  this is an excellent edition that is sure to make the reader want to "stop and smell the roses."
    Patricia Fittante; Children’s Librarian, Escanaba Public Library, Escanaba, MI
    24 years of experience as a school and public librarian

DeFoe, Daniel. ROBINSON CRUSOE.  Illus. by Julek Heller.  Eyewitness Classic Series.
    New York:  DK, 1998.  64p.   0-7894-3625-6.; hb., $14.95    98-23279   Gr. 3+     FIC

    Unlike some cola, this classic story is not the real thing.  It depends on which taste pleases readers most.  It may satisfy the palette of the younger reader and hopefully it will be an enticement them to continue on to read the unabridged version.  This Eyewitness Classic presents the major incidents in Defoe's own words, but does so in very abbreviated and concise chapters.
It obviously is designed to capture the essence of the 18th century classic for the young reader and it does precisely that.  Heller has done an outstanding job with compelling scenes, diagrams and sketches as well as illustrated annotations.  The book features a map of Crusoe's imaginary island and also gives related background material on Defoe's life.  This popular novel of adventure has a most attractive format and should help keep this classic alive for another upcoming century.
    Patricia Fittante, Children's Librarian, Escanaba Public Library, Escanaba, MI
    23 years of experience as a librarian or teacher

Godden, Rumer.  MISS HAPPINESS AND MISS FLOWER.  New York:
    HarperCollins, 1960, 1989, 2002,.  119p.   0-06-029193-1; lib.bdg., $14.89
    0-06-440938-4; pb., $4.95    2001-022277    Gr.  2-5      FIC

    Eight-year-old Nona’s father sent her from India to England to live with her Uncle, his wife, and three cousins.  Nona spent most of her time in solitude until a Great Aunt in San Francisco sent two Japanese dolls to the family.  No one else wanted them so the homesick little girl took the two dolls to her heart.  When she related the legend of the star crossed lovers and the Milky Way to the family, Nona spoke more than she had ever done before. The dolls, dressed in kimonos, were only five inches high and were not new because Miss Flower had a chip out of one ear and paint was missing from one of Miss Happiness’s shoes.   The dolls longed for a home of their own and this is Nona’s quest.  At first glance, the dollhouse plans are not in the new book because the different configuration of pages but the figures showing all 16 pieces of the dollhouse plans are all there.  The directions for making the dollhouse are very clear.  The “Notes” includes the plans as well as a glossary of seven terms including the Star Festival, explaining how the legend is celebrated, and examples of seasonal haiku.  Because of the smaller shape of the book, it contains 119 pages instead of 82 but all of the original story is included.  The old cover is outdated and the new one will entice a new generation of readers.   This story of loneliness, jealousy, sharing, and friendship is gently told.  Parents can read this book aloud at bedtime to girls younger than eight years old.
    Mary Ann Paulin; Director; Superiorland Preview Center
    32 years of experience as a school library/media specialist

Harris, Joel Chandler.  THE COMPLETE TALES OF UNCLE REMUS.
    Comp. By  Richard Chase.  Illus by many.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1995, 2002.
    815p.  0-618-15429-9; hb., $35.00  54-12233  Gr. 5-9+    SC  or  398.2

    Joel Chandler Harris’ first compilation of “Uncle Remus” stories was published in 1880.  Due to popular demand, he produced other anthologies.  In 1955 Richard Chase, who compiled the Appalachian “Jack Tales,” took the stories from eight books and compiled them.  The book, except for the jacket art, an introduction to the new edition, and different pagination, is essentially the same as the 1955 edition and includes 186 tales. The 7-page glossary is extremely useful.  Folklore collections in the south, large and small public library collections that do not have the 1955 edition need to purchase this classic.
    Another recent collection published in 1999 by Fogelman/Penguin contains 156 stories retold by Julius Lester without Harris's dialect as found in the Chase book.  Lester's book contains three full page and over 80 half-page black and white pencil illustrations and 15 two-page pencil and watercolor illustrations.  The Chase retelling contains 186 stories and 182 pen and ink sketches and one lithograph titled "Uncle Remus and the little boy."
    Mary Ann Paulin; Director; Superiorland Preview Center
    32 years of experience as a school library/media specialist

Jablonski, Carla.  THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE.  Wishbone The Early Years, #2.
    Allen, TX: Little Red Chair/Lyrick, 1999.  97p.  1-570-64-770-4; pb., $3.99.
    99-61258    K- Gr.3     FIC

    The Jack Russell Terrier from PBS and his best friend JoeTalbot, 8-year-old third grader Joe and his friend David, are playing softball using a pitching machine.  When the machine goes out of control, Wishbone imagines himself as an apprentice to a sorcerer.  As Philip, he gets a job with the magician because he cannot read and Sorcerer Necromania’s conditions are the same as in the original story from the Brothers Grimm--don’t open a single book.  Fans of the Wishbone series will enjoy this book.
    Mary Ann Paulin; Director, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI
    32 years of experience as a school library/media specialist

Sandberg, Rosemary & Morpurgo, Michael.  THE KINGFISHER TREASURY OF CLASSIC STORIES
   New York, NY:  Kingfisher, 2002.  319 p.  ISBN 0-7534-5483-1  hb. $24.95  Gr. PreS - 6   E
 
    The authors have selected excerpts from 34 classic tales for inclusion in this volume.  Readers will encounter familiar titles such as Little Women, Treasure Island, Oliver Twist, Peter Pan and Winnie-the-Pooh, to name a few, as well as a number of other well-known and not-so-well-known tales.  Each excerpt is preceded by an introduction so the reader can place the selection in context.  These stories are beautifully illustrated by excellent artists and some include drawings from the original work.  Notes on the authors are included at the end of the book.  This treasury of the best of children's literature is suitable for children of a variety of ages.  Young children will enjoy having stories read to them and older children will find a number of selections to choose from as their interests and reading ability change.  Hopefully the excerpts will encourage children to read the original works from which the excerts were taken. 
    Carolyn Anderson, L'Anse - retired elementary teacher, public library board trustee 

Shakespeare, William.  TO SLEEP, PERCHANCE TO DREAM:  A CHILD’S BOOK
    OF  RHYMES.
  Illus by James Mayhew.  New York:  Chickenhouse/Scholastic, 2001.
    24p.     0-439-29655-2; hb., $16.95.  Gr. 2-8+    822

    The twelve selections from eight of Shakespeare’s plays begin from dawn until dusk making it a different type of bedtime book.  Closing selections include “Sing in our sweet lullaby; /Lulla, lulla, lullaby; lulla, lulla, lullaby…” from A MIDSUMMER NIGHT’S DREAM II II and “We are such stuff as/dreams are made on…” from THE TEMPEST IV I.  This is an excellent way to introduce young readers to Shakespeare’s genius because the selections are “user friendly” and include some well-known verses like “All the world’s a stage” from AS YOU LIKE IT II VII.   Mythological references to Phoebus and Philomel and a reference to the tones of the dulcet, a musical instrument, need to be explained in a glossary or an asterisk to a brief explanation at the bottom of the page.  The context helps somewhat but an explanation would help; this is a minor problem.  The illustrations have an ethereal quality in keeping with the text.  This picture book  will be enjoyed by adults as well as children.
    Mary Ann Paulin; Director, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI
    32 years of experience as a school library/media specialist

Tolkien, J. R. R.  THE HOBBIT OR THERE AND BACK AGAIN.  Boston: Houghton Mifflin,
    1966, 2001. 330p.  ISBN 0-618-1622-6 hb. $18.00.    Gr. 4+   FIC

    New cover art by Peter Sis provides nine glimpses into this classic.  The success of the feature film THE LORD OF THE RINGS, THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RINGS, will increase demand for all of Tolkien’s books.  Purchase to replace or supplement titles by Tolkien to meet the demand.
    Mary Ann Paulin; Director, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI
    32 years of experience as a school library/media specialist

White, E. B.  CHARLOTTE’S WEB: AUTHOR OF STUART LITTLE.  50th Anniversary
    Retrospective Edition.  Illus by Garth Williams.  With an afterword  by Peter F. Neumeyer. 
    New York:  HarperCollins, 1952; 2002.  0-06-000698-6; hb., $29.95    Gr. 2-5     FIC

    This is a handsome edition worthy of celebrating the 50th anniversary of this beloved classic.  Both sets of end papers contain a giant web, complete with dewdrops.  The print is larger than usual, which would be of special interest for large print collections in public libraries as well as libraries for the blind.  The original Garth Williams illustrations have been enhanced with color.  The story is the same classic readers know and love but it is the afterword that makes this an edition a desirable purchase even though every library already has one or more copies of the original.  The afterword, pages 186-215, contains interesting background information on White and his wife, Katherine; copies of draft pages; quotes from reviews and essays about the work; photos of White on his farm and at his typewriter; a drawing of a barn on which White based his own; covers of the book in five languages, and lest people not make the connection, a color cover shot of STUART LITTLE (Harper, 1945).  Persons who want to know more about White can use the Acknowledgements to find out where to find reviews, biographies, and the Cornell University Library, Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections.
    Mary Ann Paulin; Director, Superiorland Preview Center, Marquette, MI
    32 years of experience as a school library/media specialist

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