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Great Expectations
     

Great Expectations

by James Riordan, Victor G. Ambrus (Illustrator)
 

"I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip." So begins James Riordan's lively retelling of Great Expectations, Charles Dickens's classic novel about a boy taken from poor beginnings, educated as a gentleman, and his ultimate discovery of the identity of his mysterious benefactor. This compelling and easy-to-read version of Great Expectations is

Overview

"I called myself Pip, and came to be called Pip." So begins James Riordan's lively retelling of Great Expectations, Charles Dickens's classic novel about a boy taken from poor beginnings, educated as a gentleman, and his ultimate discovery of the identity of his mysterious benefactor. This compelling and easy-to-read version of Great Expectations is vividly brought to life with the illustrations of Victor G. Ambrus, a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts in England and the artist for numerous other classics in this popular series, including Moby Dick, Gulliver's Travels, The Wizard of Oz, and many others.

Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
This simplified retelling of a classic is lively and retains enough Victorian language and style to give it an authentic flavor, yet not so much as to slow down and perhaps lose a young reader not quite ready to read a full-fledged Dickens' novel. In fact, the retelling is so engrossing it might well inspire the reader to go on to read the original or to choose another book by Charles Dickens. The story of young Pip starts in the graveyard where he meets Magwitch, who ends up having a dramatic effect on his life. The reader follows Pip home, and then through the painful and puzzling visit to Miss Haversham's, and finally on to London where he is told he can have "Great Expectations." His life in London begins quite happily, then takes some surprising and unfortunate turns, just as the original does. Mr. Ambrus's ink and watercolor drawings add to the texture of the story in this attractive book. It is one in an Oxford University Press series of retellings that includes The Canterbury Tales, Gulliver's Travels, The Odyssey, and Don Quixote, among others. 2002, Oxford University Press,
— Janet Crane Barley
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Abridged editions of this classic abound. Half of the space here is given to Ambrus's free-line renderings, with elements of caricature but a fundamental realism (not unlike Charles Dickens's own method). Riordan's version retains some of the flavor of the original and atmospheric touches. However, Orlick, Wopsle, Miss Skiffins, the Aged P., Matthew Pocket, and others are gone, together with the incidents in which they figured. Biddy, Wemmick, Drummle, and Clara are given a phrase each. (But why mention Pumblechook when he is no longer a satiric vehicle?) Readers haven't enough time to feel Pip's long deception about his expectations, or his hopeless love for Estella, so the reversals lack force. Magwitch is hardly offstage before he reappears, and Riordan has sacrificed the early hints of his tender heart. The introduction of Estella's true parentage is so abrupt as to be incredible. Mindlessly, the final sentence (of the usual ending, not Dickens's original) has been altered to read, "I saw the shadow of no parting from her," a change of syntax and meaning from "I saw no shadow of another parting." Ambrus helps fill in some of the setting and character (e.g., by humanizing Magwitch). Unfortunately there is no final, enthusiastic description of the unabridged original, encouraging readers to seek it out. As an enticement, this retelling surpasses Cliffs Notes, and if Dickens can be reduced to a picture book, this does the job.-Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780192741905
Publisher:
Oxford University Press, USA
Publication date:
04/28/2002
Series:
Oxford Illustrated Classics Series
Pages:
96
Product dimensions:
8.20(w) x 11.10(h) x 0.50(d)
Age Range:
8 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

James Riordan has written numerous books for children, including many translations of Russian tales. He is the author of Gulliver's Travels and King Arthur, two other delightful retellings of popular stories published by Oxford.
Victor G. Ambrus was born in Budapest. He has illustrated more than 200 books and is a two-time winner of the Kate Greenaway Medal.

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