Bram Stoker. Retold by Tim Wynne-Jones. Illustrated by Lazlo Gal.
Grades 5 and up / Ages 10 and up.
"Have you got any horror books?" is a question teacher-librarians of middle-graders hear over and over from their students. The selection is not likely to be large. What is there to offer, other than the ubiquitous Stine-chillers? The classics in their original form are tough going for children brought up on television, movies and novels written for their maturity level. Easy versions of a few classic horror stories have been published, mainly as a lure for reluctant teenaged readers, but, by and large, their controlled vocabulary and insipid illustrations tend to minimize the horror of the originals. Now, however, enter Tim Wynne-Jones to the rescue! Dracula is Tim Wynne-Jones' second picture book in a trio of retold horror stories. Last year's publication of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, cleverly illustrated by Bill Slavin, provided a wonderfully readable antidote to the Disney version of this classic. Tim Wynne-Jones' skillful retelling of Dracula, complemented by award-winning artist Lazlo Gal's illustrations, results in a stunning rendition of the old tale. True to Stoker's original, the sinister story of evil and violence is told from various characters' points of view. Gal's darkly bold paintings evoke the narrative's pervasive sense of doom. Ever versatile, Tim Wynne-Jones employs his storytelling flair to preserve the Victorian cadence of the text, while freeing it from the complicated structure and verbosity of the original. Youthful readers and teacher-librarians will be eagerly awaiting publication of the third story retold by Wynne-Jones in this Key Porter Kids Classic Horror Series.
Although Dracula is a picture book, teacher-librarians in elementary schools will probably want to keep it in the Fiction rather than the Easy (or Everyone) section, in order to make it more accessible to older readers and less likely to be taken home by primary students! This version of Dracula, where manageable amounts of text appear superimposed on haunting double-page paintings, will appeal not only to reluctant readers but also to more advanced readers who may be inspired to read the original. Like all the best picture books, it will, of course, be thoroughly enjoyed by adult readers. This one belongs on your "Too good to miss" list!
Valerie Nielsen is a teacher-librarian at Bairdmore School in Winnipeg, Manitoba.
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Copyright © 1998 the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS ISSUE - JANUARY 16, 1998.
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