Quentin Blake is probably best known for his illustrations of Roald Dahls’ books, so it was a really pleasant surprise to find out he’d illustrated something new – if you can call a book by Charles’ Dickens new, that is! Quentin Blake has illustrated A Christmas Carol, which we were recently sent as part of the Paragon Book Buddies program. I was so excited I set it as our reading book for December, to be discussed at our children’s book club in January.
The book is beautifully illustrated. I mean, if you like Blake’s drawings, you’re going to love these because they are as true to Blake’s drawing style as you’d hope and expect. There are a few pages with no pictures, but most have at least one and some even have two to a two page spread, so there’s no shortage of illustrations to enjoy.
I’m sure everyone knows the story of Scrooge, with the death of his partner Marley and the ghosts of Christmas past, future and present that visit the grumpy old man, and how their appearance in his room changes pretty much the rest of his life.
The story remains the same as the Classic, and is unabridged. I think this is an important point, really, because being illustrated by Quentin Blake you tend to assume it’s going to be appropriate to young children in the way the Roald Dahl books are, and while I’ve enjoyed reading it, I’ve had to pretty much explain something on every page to my 6 year old. This isn’t a bad thing it just means it isn’t a light and easy read.
That said, I think Quentin Blake’s A Christmas Carol is beautiful and it’s not a book that’ll be sent off to the charity shop along with the others the children outgrow. In fact I think it’ll stay on my shelf as long as I have one, and will pass down to my children – hopefully as a Christmas tradition. It’s just a classic that has stood the test of time, and now it has iconic images to match.