Bless Us Every One! A Christmas Carol, Illustrated by Brett Helquist
MARLEY WAS DEAD.
THERE WAS NO DOUBT WHATEVER THAT OLD MARLEY WAS DEAD AS A DOORNAIL.
THIS MUST BE DISTINCTLY UNDERSTOOD OR NOTHING WONDERFUL CAN COME OF THE STORY OF EBENEEZER SCROOGE.
But in the hands of notable illustrator Brett Helquist, (best known for his illustrations of Lemony Snicket's best selling The Complete Wreck (A Series of Unfortunate Events, Books 1-13), something wonderful does come of this crusty Christmas classic. With an excellent new abridgment, sacrificing none of Dickens' picturesque language, and the illustrator's noire caricature style, this venerable story is both accessible and attractive to young and old alike. Helquist's hatchet-faced Ebeneezer Scrooge is as disagreeable as ever, arguing his own hard-nosed worldview even as his dead partner Marley, swathed in chains and trailing the mists of the grave, goes nose to nose with him in his declamation of Scrooge's predicted end.
Helquist sets his bitter, parsimonious Scrooge off against a swirling background, busy with Victorian merrymaking, and the familiar transformation of that classic curmudgeon comes off as both dramatic and inevitable, as Dickens intended, while Helquist's palette shifts from a dank greenish gray to mellower and warmer tones as Scrooge's own heart thaws in the glow of his recovered good will.
For kids in Kindergarten through adults of all ages, Helquist's A Christmas Carol (Harper, 2009) is dead-on Dickens, just right for this holiday season. As the reviewer for School Library Journal says, "...this year’s version, illustrated in Helquist’s darkly comic style, is one of the best. A winning combination of sparkling prose and exciting art."
Labels: Christmas Stories (Grades K-6)