CM . . . . Volume XX Number 23 . . . . February 14, 2014
This board book adaptation of Munsch's classic 50 Below Zero unfortunately pales in comparison to the original. While there are only slight variations to Marchenko's illustrations, the altering of Munsch's story is significant. The shortened story with its simplified text strips the tale of its pleasing rhythm and charm. As well, a good amount of the repetition of the original has been removed, and this modification results in a story that doesn't allow the reader to feel the tension and anticipation that are built with this technique in the picture book version. Fewer details also create confusion in the mind of the reader. For example, in the adaptation, it is never clear if Jason's early attempts to rouse his father are successful, as they are in the original. When the reader arrives at the statement, "But this time Jason couldn't wake him up," s/he may wonder if something had been missed earlier in the story.
This board book version of 50 Below Zero will certainly be more durable and easier for smaller hands to handle; however, readers may prefer to have a richer experience by sticking with the original format. The age range of 2 to 5 years provided by the publisher seems a bit wide for this particular board book. Children who are 4 and 5 years of age could certainly enjoy the original story. The picture book version may be more physically delicate and its longer length more demanding for younger readers, but it is never too early to introduce children to the stories of Robert Munsch in their original and beloved form in order to appreciate his unique storytelling gifts.
Jennifer Baetz is a Fine Arts Librarian in Saskatoon, SK.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.