cover image Shrunken Treasures: Literary Classics, Short, Sweet, and Silly

Shrunken Treasures: Literary Classics, Short, Sweet, and Silly

Scott Nash. Candlewick, $15.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-7636-6972-0

In a quest to cast nine renowned literary works into short poems, Nash (Uh-oh, Baby!) does best with his one-line summation of Proust’s Remembrance of Things Past: “I dipped a sweet cake in my tea/ And a whole world came back to me.” His crisp, digitally produced artwork renders these literary heroes as round-headed, doll-like figures, their cheerful expressions belying the awful things that happen to them in their respective stories. Ahab waves from atop a smiling whale, while the beetle Gregory Samsa dances to his sister’s violin music. Some of Nash’s versions are downright spooky, as when Hamlet, imagined as an eager Great Dane, digs a hole for every murder the Prince commits and finishes by digging one for himself. Purists may object, but others will enjoy singing Jane Eyre to the tune of “Three Blind Mice” (“The house was spooky/ and Jane was afraid./ The attic was home/ to a crazy old maid”). Synopses of the books, only slightly less fractured than the verse interpretations (“You will also learn many details and fun facts about whaling,” Nash remarks about Moby-Dick) appear in an afterword. Ages 5–8. (Apr.)