Gaston Louis Alfred Leroux (1868 - 1927) was a French journalist and author of detective fiction. In the English-speaking world, he is best known for writing the novel The Phantom of the Opera (Le Fantome de l'Opera, 1910), which has been made into several film and stage productions of the same name, notably the 1925 film starring Lon Chaney and Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical. His novel The Mystery of the Yellow Room is also one of the most famous locked-room mysteries ever.
Gr 5-8-Fields has taken the original story and made it more approachable to younger and reluctant readers, losing none of the Dickensian drama. The characters are true to the original tale as are the plot and its development. McWilliam's whimsical cartoon artwork illustrates the key moments in the story and heightens its emotions and situations. Kelly does an adequate job of adapting the Dumas classic. The original is a rich, extravagant story about political intrigue, deception, history, and drama. All of the main players are here, but readers need to be familiar with The Three Musketeers in order to understand who the characters are and how they have grown. The language, sentence structure, and limited vocabulary make this appropriate for the middle grades and will introduce children to this literary classic. Unfortunately, while Lacey's illustrations provide a break for the eye at certain points in the narrative, they fail to capture the pageantry and drama of the period. In Phantom, Mullarkey uses simple vocabulary and sentence structure without losing Leroux's drama, horror, and suspense. The principal characters' roles, capacities, and importance are in no way diminished, but some parts of the story that have the most action and drama (e.g., the chandelier falling or the masquerade ball) aren't illustrated. Fisher's cartoonish art belies the dark, serious side of the story and oversimplifies some of its key points.-Robert A. Zupperoli, Warren Harding High School, Bridgeport, CT (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.