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Mary Jane Begin illustrates the classic story of Mole, Badger, Rat and Toad, The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. Each chapter opens with a vignette and includes a full-page painting of a dramatic moment in the proceedings.
Originally published in France in 1996, this edition collects the four corresponding English-language volumes that were first issued between 1997 and 2002 by NBM. Plessix's style has been called "detailed impressionism," and the limpid watercolors of his lavish adaptation give that "Somewhere Else" quality to the classic story--2008 is the 100th anniversary of Graham's novel. So many adaptations have so little space to work in that they seem more like CliffsNotes versions. But Plessix has truly adapted the tale with most of the narrative details intact--and a few new twists at the end. And while the anthropomorphic animal characters have a cute, cartoony quality, the overall effect of a timeless, golden world is not thereby disrupted; all the looniness and love of nature from the original come through beautifully. Somehow the world of Mole and his friends suggests an animal Hobbiton in a Ring-less alternative universe, where talking animals and humans coexist amid a gloriously bucolic world of water, woods, and fields based on preindustrial rural England. Unfortunately, the pages are a little too small to showcase the details of Plessix's lush art as it deserves. For all ages.--M.C. Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
Gr 3-5-Stout-hearted Dorothy, dashing but naive D'Artagnan, and feckless Toad are introduced to young graphic-novel enthusiasts. Each book is a serviceable representation of the original work, hitting all relevant plot points in a somewhat rigidly paced 70 to 100 pages. Occasional anachronisms are jarring (D'Artagnan asks, "Are you okay?"). Unfortunately, the pages in Oz suffer from serious overcrowding: detail-heavy panels are arranged in an overlapping layout with no gutters between panels, making the book visually dense. Colors glare and characters appear stiff. Eric Shanower's graphic-novel edition of the same book (Marvel Classics) is easier on the eyes. Musketeers is drawn in a sharper-edged but still goofy style that emphasizes the humor in every scene. Willows is illustrated in an exaggerated cartoon style, with pop-eyed, loose-limbed characters that are a sharp contrast to depictions in other recent illustrated editions by artists such as Robert Ingpen, Luanne Rice, and Inga Moore. No library should be without these classics, but these adaptations may not be the best ones to choose.-Paula Willey, Baltimore County Public Library, Towson, MD (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.