Fairy tales are a passion of mine and I am fortunate enough to have 30 students, a different grade every day, for ninety minutes each morning. Across all the grades, in one form or another, I spend a lot of time reading fairy tales out loud and I never fail to be surprised by the rapt attention that I get from every child. I think, in part, they love hearing the fairy tales because they are familiar with them. With this in mind, why not make children familiar with literary classics? Jack and Holman Wang are doing this with their charmingly clever Cozy Classics board books and now Scott Nash, author and illustrator of the superb The High Flying Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate, which has a very classic feel of its own, brings us Shrunken Treasures: Literary Classics, Short, Sweet and Silly. While it took me a while to find the value in introducing children to classic works of adult literature, seeing the endless interest my students have in fairy tales made me think these creative adapters are on to something!
Nash begins Shrunken Treasures with an introduction to in invention that he calls the "Versizer." A "marvel of squishy science," the Versizer can transform "lengthy novels, myths and epic poems into delightful nuggets of nonsense." Nash assures readers that the Versizer does no damage to the original text, as it can be un-shrunk at any time. Finally, he urges readers to "recite and sing" these shrunken treasures until they are "old enough to read the more weighty classics" themselves.
Short, sweet, and silly is exactly what these nine poems are. And Nash is very creative. Moby Dick is to be recited/sung to the tune of "Mary Had a Little Lamb," Jane Eyre to the tune of "Three Blind Mice." Nash begins his retelling of The Odyssey with, "No wussie was Ulysses," a refrain repeated throughout the poem. My favorite poem in the whole book, and the final, is Remembrance of Things Past, which reads as follows:
I dipped a sweet cake in my tea
And a whole world came back to me.
The accompanying illustrations is brilliant as well, showing M(arcel) with a world of things floating just above his head. Of course kids won't get this, but you will have fun explaining it to them!
Source: Review Copy