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The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
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Gr 5-12-Amidst the foreboding structure of Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris during medieval times, Quasimodo, the hunchbacked bell ringer, watches the city and it's people in awe, yet knowing that he can never belong among them because of his deformed shape. Through an odd turn of events, he finds himself cast in a struggle to save the beautiful gypsy dancer Esmaralda from being unjustly executed. The St. Charles Players in a multicast dramatization uniquely tell this tragic tale of romance and intrigue. Music and background sounds are intertwined with truly dramatic character portrayals to result in a superb "radio theatre" style rendition of this classic tale. Magnificent emphasis to detail makes this a must have for middle or high school libraries. Students will be enthralled by the excellent telling of this tale.-Tammy E. Snipes, Great Falls High School, SC Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

These clever packages combine a classic text with a DVD of a film version. The Holmes volume's 22 stories accompany Terror by Night and The Woman in Green, starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce. Hunchback looms over the Lon Chaney silent version, while Cyrano includes the popular 1950 Jos? Ferrer flick. Sweet for the price. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Children who have had a taste of Hugo's 18th-century epic through the animated film may find this version, with its absence of song, rather sobering. Wynne-Jones (Some of the Kinder Planets) makes no attempt to soften the harsh story of the hideously deformed, big-hearted Quasimodo, who escapes ridicule only in the sanctuary of the cathedral. Although the narrative is fluent and conversational, children may need guidance through some of the more challenging vocabulary and occasional wordy passages. The irony in Hugo's novel is preserved here, as when Wynne-Jones draws a delicious parallel between church and state: Quasimodo is deaf because "the bells of the church had made him that way"; the judge who sentences the deformed man to a flogging "is as deaf as Quasimodo. The court had made him that way." Still, the deeper implications of the story will likely be lost on children. Dramatically framing the text are Slavin's (Extra! Extra! The Who, What, Where, When and Why of Newspapers) subtly hued, skillfully composed paintings. His mastery of detail, especially in period dress and architecture, makes turbulent medieval Paris appear real‘sometimes frighteningly so. This polished, thoughtful collaboration may serve as an authentic preview to Hugo's classic, but may be best appreciated with an adult standing by. Ages 5-8. (Sept.)

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