Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol: A Pop-Up Book by Chuck Fischer
Six beautifully crafted pop-up images bring the story of A Christmas Carol to life. Each image is accompanied by a illustrated booklet, the first of which is an introduction to both Charles Dickens and the story. The remaining five contain the full text of the story.
Last year I reviewed A Christmas Carol, which I had read for the very first time. Because of that, this will not be a review of the story itself. Instead this will be a rather subjective review of the way the story is told through the pages of this absolutely illustrated book.
The first image is this gorgeous view of the city street as Scrooge is leaving his offices for the day. There is a lamplighter up on a ladder as he is lighting the lanterns for the night. People are walking down the street as they are going home and the warmth that provides. The church tower is just hitting 5 o'clock and life is bustling in the city.
When you turn the page you are confronted by the image of Scrooge being visited by the ghost of Marley. He is sitting in his armchair and is rather startled as Marley floats through the door trailing chains laden down by books and locked boxes. In the background floats a grouping of forlorn phantasms as they pass by a window. I found this image to be rather interested because the scene is bordered by a lovely marbled green and white background which shows off a gorgeous golden vine of holly berries and bells. It's a rather lovely juxtaposition of themes.
My favorite image is the third which shows the Ghost of Christmas Past rising out of the flames of a candle. On the second page of the image you see Scrooge floating out of his bed which is surrounded by the image of a clock. It's a brilliant use of framing to showcase the idea of time and movement. What I love so much though is that this page is split and when you open it open you see Scrooge as a boy sitting by himself in the school room, neglected by both friends and family. But that's not all, when you look closer you see that there is yet another tab that allows you to turn that page and you see Scrooge attending the Fezzwig's party then the last page shows Scrooge holding a locked box ending the relationship with his girl. This one image shows everything you could ever want to know about Scrooge's past. It's brilliant.
The fourth image shows Scrooge walking into the room that the Ghost of Christmas Present has taken over for his banquet. The clock on the mantle shows 1 o'clock and the fire is full and roaring. The image of the ghost in the one I'm familiar with from the movies, a giant of a man with a full red bear and velvety green gown trimmed in white. He is surrounded by a humongous feast of ham, turkey, roast pig, puddings, kegs, and cornucopias overflowing. It's warm and inviting and definitely a party I want to be at. I the middle, at the very bottom of the page is a small medallion showing the Cratchits as they sit down for dinner.
I would think you could guess what the fifth image shows us. A cowering Scrooge is seeing his grave for the very first time. It's a cold, snowy churchyard that is rather uninviting and not where I would want to be buried. The Ghost of Christmas Future towers over the graveyard and Scrooge. He is in his normal guise, a faceless, silent image of death in all his glory.
The final image is of Scrooge holding up a very happy Tiny Tim in front of the opening scene. The golden bells and holly once again frame the image and add such a warming touch to the scene. It's full of holiday cheer and you can't help but smile when you look at it.
I'm not normally a big fan of pop-up books but I think that's because the ones that came out as a kid, at least to me, weren't that cool. The seemed more of a gimmick and weren't well thought out. This book on the other hand is more of 3-Dimensional art that highlights the story rather than upstage it. I loved this book, my son loved this book and it will be a family favorite for years to come.