5 Stars Scrooge: A Christmas Carol & A Remembrance of Mugby Charles Dickens Papercutz 96 Pages Ages: 8 and up .....................
Scrooge is actually two books in one. In addition to the traditional Dickens classic A Christmas Carol there is also another Charles Dickens classic, A Remembrance of Mugby. Chances are good you have not read the latter story, but it is a classic Dickens story that is sure to please. Estelle Meyrand illustrates both stories. Each panel of these graphic tales looks like they were destined for a museum.
The first story is the well-known and well-told Dickens classic A Christmas Story. The year is 1740 and the setting is a busy London. Scrooge works in a dingy, sparsely lit and sparsely heated office with a clerk named Bob Cratchit. Scrooge is everything you have ever heard about the man. He is stingy, mean, and selfish. Christmas to Scrooge is a “time to pay bills, not throw money away on gifts.” The law states Christmas is a paid day off and Scrooge is not happy about this. Nothing can cheer the old man, not even a cheerful invitation from his only relative, nephew Fred.
The tale takes its classic turn when the spirit of Scrooge’s business partner arrives to show Scrooge a Christmas past, present and, future. When Scrooge returns to present day London it is Christmas day and he does not know if what he just experienced was a dream or if it was real. It matters not and Scrooge changes in ways that will affect the entire town.
A Remembrance of Mugby is a classic Dickens’s Christmas tale that most have probably not heard of before now. I had not. The story is about Barbox Brothers. Barbox Brothers is actually the name of a now closed business. The owner has traveled to a small, seemingly deserted town with railroad tracks leading out of town in five different directions.
Barbox Brothers takes the train in each direction, one day after the next, in hopes of finding the one place he can settle down and be happy. The first destination leaves him numb and he returns to try the next train. In the end, Barbox Brothers finds that the place he was looking for had been there all along. He returns to Mugby one last time and settles down to a wonderful life with his new family.
I like both stories. A Christmas Carol was much bleaker than the other versions I have read or heard. It is the Charles Dickens I am used to and expect. His stories start out dreary and dark, then brighten up as the happy ending comes into view. Scrooge, the vilest man in the city learns not only his own fate, but that of those around him.
It is that ripple effect we most often do not consider when taking an action or making a decision. This is the six-degrees-of-separation we all have with one another. At Christmas, people tend to remember this little fact more than any other time of the year. Scrooge learns to be careful of this ripple all year long, and the entire community is better for it.
I also liked A Remembrance of Mugby a tale I had never heard before reading this graphic novel from Papercutz. The man is anonymous and could be any of us looking for the place we belong. In the end, he finds he was there all along. It reminds me of a song, whose title I cannot recall, with the lyrics “love the one you’re with.” When Barbox Brothers allows himself to be open to possibilities, he gains an entirely new world for himself. That is the classic Christmas wish: to be happy.
Reading these in the form of graphic novels allows the illustrations to say much more than they might in a picture book format. Several montages on each page moves the story along at a fast pace, yet not so fast that you get lost.
The illustrations are extremely detailed. A change of color can express a change of mood and set the tone of the story. Mood changes can also be seen in the eyes of a character. Boys and girls will enjoy reading these classics turned comics. The graphic novel is a less threatening medium and kids will dive right into stories they may otherwise avoid.
Scrooge is a beautiful book to own. Papercutz has a series called The Classics Illustrated, which features stories like A Christmas Story and A Remembrance of Mugby. If the other editions of The Classics Illustrated are as good as Scrooge, these are books destined to be cherished by families and collectors for years to come.