Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Cozy Classics: Jane Eyre

Published:  November 20th, 2013
Cozy Classics: Jane Eyre (Cozy Classics)
By: Jack & Holman Wang
Simply Read Books
ISBN-13:  9781927018316

Give a kid a classic!  Cozy Classics is the popular board book series that presents well-loved stories to children age 0+ through twelve child-friendly words and twelve needle-felted illustrations.  Jane Eyre is Charlotte Bronte's mysterious romance about a young governess who discovers a terrible secret about the man she loves, and is one of the world's most beloved classics.  Now you can share this classic with children of any age.


     So for anyone who didn't catch my first review, this is my second foray into the Cozy Classics books.  My first was their version of Jane Austen's Emma, which I found truly adorable and hilariously fun to read/interpret as an adult who has read the original book.  I can say that I was laughing throughout this one as well.  The biggest issue that I had was how little it actually represented the original story.  But as other reviewers (and I myself) have said, representing a literary classic in just twelve words, with felt puppets staged around is not an easy endeavor!  Jane Eyre is pretty complex story, not necessarily more so than Emma, just in very different contexts.  It's a lot easier to allude to social niceties and blunders, mixed with romance/friendship than it is to talk about the crazy wife in the attic.  
     It introduces the reader to Jane (the word "girl") sitting at a table with a book, looking miserable.  Next we see the word "red" and she is pictured looking terrifed and trying to wrest open the door to the red room of her nightmares.  The third word is "stand" and has Jane on a stool at the front of a classroom, being humiliated.  These are the only words we're given to represent Jane's mess of a childhood.  While the less horrific of some of the things that could've been shown to children, it also doesn't do much to tell us what exactly is going on - unless we already know (as lots of adults probably already know the gist of the story).  Then we get "woman", with Jane all grown up (I respect that the Wangs make the Jane puppet plain looking in accordance with the story.  It could be tempting to do otherwise, especially when marketing a romantic classic to children!)  We are introduced to Rochester on the ground, clutching his knee ("fall").  Probably the most nonsensical thing about this is how far in the background his horse happens to be, when he's just fallen from it.  We next see Rochester leaning on Jane and limping away from the scene of misfortune (help) and all of the sudden he's recovered, they're holding hands and about to kiss each other (appropriately titled "kiss").  I like the light filtering in between them and the trees, and the happy looks on the puppets' faces.  Especially considering the shit's about to hit the fan!
     This is when the action (if you can call it that) starts to take place in the book, with Rochester leading Jane to the attic to tell her the big secret ("stairs" with her veil in hand and trailing after them) and running away, obviously upset ("leave").  This is very confusing without prior context.  What's so important about the stairs?  Why is Jane running away two seconds later, upset and not wanting to be around the man she was in "kiss" position with only two pages ago?  Either this book is meant for babies who won't ask questions or adults who will find it a fun exercise in terse storytelling with beautifully crafted visuals.  It's fun to speculate on that as well!  Next we seen Jane on a doorstep with her eyes closed ("cold") and Rochester backed into a corner with a fire raging in front of him ("hot").  The last scene depicted has Jane once again with Rochester, smiling and leading him to a chair with his eyes closed ("care").  I believe that the Wangs did the best they could to depict the full story, but to a child this would probably come across pretty confusing.  I think that last scene should have had bandages over Rochester's eyes probably, to depict the fact that he was blind a little more clearly.  The whole reason Jane leaves when she finds out about Rochester's crazy wife is that she's got a serious moral backbone, but also a devalued sense of self in that she doesn't think she was enough for him anyways.  An extremely difficult thing to depict in a children's board book, with twelve words, when trying to give any sense of story as well.  All that aside, I had fun once again with this concept (even if it wasn't quite as good as Emma). 

VERDICT:  3/5  Stars

*I received an Advanced Reading E-book Copy from the publisher, Simply Read Books, via NetGalley.  No money or favors were exchanged for this review.  This book was published November 20th, 2013.*

1 comment:

  1. I love Jane Eyre, and I did buy this for myself just cause it's my favorite book. I bought it more for the pictures than for the potential of using it to introduce the novel to kids, so I agree with the points you made it in your review.


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