Jabberwocky: With New Illustrations by Paul Elwin Rodgers


Crazy artist massacres famous poem. Paul couldn't help himself... the muse made him do it.
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Crazy artist massacres famous poem. Paul couldn't help himself... the muse made him do it.
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Editorial Reviews

J. Patrick Lewis
Christopher Myers's take on the greatest nonsense verse in the English-speaking world—a basketball face-off—combines brio and whimsy with more energy than a power forward…Award-winning books like Blues Journey, Jazz and Harlem, his Caldecott Honor book (these three were written by his father, Walter Dean Myers), have earned for Myers's art a grand and growing reputation. His Jabberwocky reflects once more his signature style and his willingness to take risks.
—The New York Times
Abby McGanney Nolan
…cleverly contemporizes the battle by setting it on a playground basketball court.…Myers's colors are bold and bright, his defined figures springing from watercolor-wash backgrounds and the typeface of the words conveying a jagged urgency.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

In his kinetic interpretation of Carroll's famous verse, Myers (Jazz) gives the poem a contemporary urban setting and a basketball theme. As the book begins, a girl looks over her shoulder while jumping rope with two others. A flip of the page shows what has distracted her: the dread Jabberwock, a towering, dark figure holding a basketball, flashing ominous-looking teeth ("The jaws that bite") and displaying enormous, seven-fingered hands ("The claws that catch!"). A boy takes on the task of besting the beast, donning stark white shoes ("his vorpal sword") and wordlessly challenging the Jabberwock to a game of one-on-one. Electric hues in the backdrops set off Myers's stylized figures and large multicolored font. While the merit of imposing a narrative logic on a work celebrated for its nonsense remains debatable, Myers's version will expose the Carroll classic to kids who otherwise may not encounter it. Ages 5-9. (Sept.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Publishers Weekly
Stewart's (The Adventures of a Nose) mixed media art is as winsome, witty and wacky as Carroll's tongue-tripping poem, which first appeared in the pages of Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There in 1872. The opening spread features the entire poem on one page, opposite a sepia-toned, Edward Gorey-esque portrait of a boy dancing on the arm of the chair in which his proper father sits holding a large open book on his lap. A flip of the page catapults readers into the land of the Jabberwock (" 'Twas brillig...), in living color. The verse continues, line by line: vest-wearing, long-tailed "slithy toves" frolic among the trees and blue-beak-nosed "borogoves" swing peacefully in hammocks while fairy-like "mome raths outgrabe" (or play musical instruments, according to Stewart's interpretation). Signs posted on trees ("Beware the Jabberwock, my son! The jaws that bite, the claws that catch!") as well as a background image of the wide-mouthed villain, with red-and-white striped tail and lips, hint at the trouble to come. Alas, the cherubic child from the opening portrait, here bedecked in striped pantaloons and helmet, uses his sword masterfully to slay the creature (who turns out to be robotic, not flesh and blood). The young hero then goes "galumphing back" to celebrate with the slithy toves before nodding off with the borogoves, as narrative and visuals return to their idyllic starting point. A fittingly fanciful interpretation of this classic nonsense verse. Ages 4-7. (Mar.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
Children's Literature
Carroll's rhythmic verse, filled with made-up but marvelously evocative words, begs to be rolled on the tongue. The father's warning to the son is heeded; his "vorpal blade" goes "snicker-snack." With the evil Jabberwock's head he goes "galumphing back" to his father, who "chortled in his joy." The entire poem is printed on an initial page. Then the individual lines march across the pages, leaving room for Stewart to visualize for us the imagined creatures and actions in mixed media colored drawings. His creations are appropriately otherworldly, but not outrageously so. The "slithy toves" are bird-like, with long noses and rats' tails, while the "mimsy borogoves" are quite human looking, but with odd added appendages. Jabberwock is a bit frightening, with long, skinny arms, claw-like fingers, and a huge mouth filled with sharp teeth. The setting is a sparsely treed forest, a neutral background for the high adventure. There is an exotic charm and elegance of design overall along with an appealing boyish hero. The poem, which first appeared in Carroll's 1872 Through the Looking-Glass, is too much fun to be forgotten. Students could be encouraged to imagine their own creatures before seeing Stewart's. 2003, Candlewick Press,
— Ken Marantz and Sylvia Marantz
Children's Literature - Dianne Ochiltree
Christopher Meyers, son of author Walter Dean Myers, is a critically-acclaimed children's book illustrator in his own right, as evidenced by the Coretta Scott King Honor and Caldecott Honor he has already received for his work. Here he turns his illustrative talents to ‘re-imagining' a classic of children's literature: the nonsense poem, "Jabberwocky," from Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There. Here, the poem's setting is not a Victorian ‘down the rabbit hole' fantasy world. Rather it is set in a realistic, modern one: an inner-city basketball court. Meyers' Jabberwocky is a giant basketball player with seven fingers on each monstrous hand, the better to clutch the basketball. The illustrations tell a story of challenge and ultimate victory on the court, reminiscent of David and Goliath's fabled fight. Meyers' paintings are dramatic and bold, fluid and monumental. The book's palette is equally forceful, rendered in nearly neon tones. The text too is set in a contemporary, chunky typeface that utilizes colored ink and boxes to good advantage, giving the book a sophisticated, urban look. Carroll's words are not always strong enough to match the power of the illustrations, and they do not always dovetail with the pictures—-sometimes the pictures and the words are at odds with one another. At times the illustrations seem a bit too powerful for the traditional picture-book-aged reader, and therefore I would suggest this one for the slightly older reader, particularly reluctant readers. Reviewer: Dianne Ochiltree
School Library Journal
PreS-Gr 4-Carroll's classic nonsense poem gets a fresh visual interpretation here. In a series of spreads, a child mounts his quest for the fearsome Jabberwock in an "other" world in keeping with the delicious unknown conjured up on first hearing, "'Twas brillig, and the slithy toves-." After a glimpse of the hero, the real world shows up in the form of facing oval frames-one containing the poem, the other a Victorian father-and-son read-aloud scene. But from then on, with a few lines of the poem per page, children enter a spare landscape of rattan-printed trees, postage-stamp-sized art, and full-color ink-and-watercolor creatures whose simple, almost cartoonish look echoes Edward Lear's comic sketches. The uncluttered composition of these pages leaves plenty of room for Carroll's words to do their work. Printed in uppercase, in a faintly rune-ish serif typeface, they gyre and gimble, whiffle and burble cleanly across the page. Stewart has not paid precise attention to Humpty Dumpty's explication of the poem as it originally appears in Through the Looking-Glass, but he has captured that wordmeister's affinity for conglomeration and arbitrary meaning, creating his own odd creatures to inhabit Carroll's perfect peculiarities. The slightly removed tone is maintained by a climactic twist: when the vorpal blade snicker-snacks "through and through," the beast's innards are revealed to be mechanical-clockwork springs and gears. Other illustrated editions worth considering-Graeme Base's (Abrams, 1989) signature packed pages or Jane Breskin Zalben's (Warne, 1977; o.p.) delicately detailed watercolors-hew more closely to Humpty Dumpty's definitions, but this new version is a good choice for a younger audience, nicely conveying the lighthearted mysteriousness of the poem.-Nancy Palmer, The Little School, Bellevue, WA Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Myers imagines an urban playground, small children playing happily until the Jabberwock arrives for an epic one-on-one basketball game with our unnamed hero. Striking visuals aid this transformation, placid blues and greens giving way to angry reds and oranges as the demonic Jabberwock enters, a tall, all-black figure with seven grasping fingers on a monstrously outsized hand. The juxtaposition of familiar text against new images yields beautifully felicitous interpretations: Our hero bows his head, the foreshortened perspective putting the emphasis on his hand resting against the chain-link fence, as the text reads, "So rested he by the Tumtum tree / And stood a while in thought." The actual conflict stretches over three spreads, a David-like hero confidently outsmarting the Goliath Jabberwock: "One, two! One, two! And through and through. . . ." Thus is order restored, and the children come out to play again. The choice of setting is brilliant, allowing the reader to join the artist in seeing the heroic possibilities in play. (Picture book/poetry. 5-10)
From The Critics
Jorisch’s visual interpretation of the poem is both provocative and personal, and it incorporates a worldliness and familiarity with human nature that most people achieve only through life experience.

Jorisch’s visual interpretation of the poem is both provocative and personal, and it incorporates a worldliness and familiarity with human nature that most people achieve only through life experience.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781480095656
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
  • Publication date: 3/21/2013
  • Pages: 26
  • Sales rank: 1,171,541
  • Product dimensions: 8.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.07 (d)

Meet the Author

Lewis Carroll
Stéphane Jorisch's work has won many awards, including three Governor General's Awards for Illustration. He lives in Montreal, Quebec.


Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, known by his pen name, Lewis Carroll, was a man of diverse interests -- in mathematics, logic, photgraphy, art, theater, religion, medicine, and science. He was happiest in the company of children for whom he created puzzles, clever games, and charming letters.

As all Carroll admirers know, his book Alice's Adventures in Wonderland (1865), became an immediate success and has since been translated into more than eighty languages. The equally popular sequel Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There, was published in 1872.

The Alice books are but one example of his wide ranging authorship. The Hunting of the Snark, a classic nonsense epic (1876) and Euclid and His Modern Rivals, a rare example of humorous work concerning mathematics, still entice and intrigue today's students. Sylvie and Bruno, published toward the end of his life contains startling ideas including an 1889 description of weightlessness.

The humor, sparkling wit and genius of this Victorian Englishman have lasted for more than a century. His books are among the most quoted works in the English language, and his influence (with that of his illustrator, Sir John Tenniel) can be seen everywhere, from the world of advertising to that of atomic physics.

Author biography courtesy of Penguin Group (USA).

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    1. Also Known As:
      Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (real name)
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 27, 1832
    2. Place of Birth:
      Daresbury, Cheshire, England
    1. Date of Death:
      January 14, 1898
    2. Place of Death:
      Guildford, Surrey, England

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