Friday, November 20, 2009

A Christmas Carol, Special Edition – Charles Dickens

©2009, Standard Publishing, Cincinnati

[Special edition includes notes and discussion material by Stephen Skelton.]

It was about time for me to read Dickens’ classic again, so I started sifting through my stacks of Christmas books to find a copy. Then I received an email offering a review copy of this new paperback edition with new notes and discussion points reached my computer.

The text of the Dickens story is the original publication which includes material excised from many of the read-aloud copies (including the one as part of the volume of Christmas Stories to read aloud with your family that I picked up at the local Walmart for next to nothing). The story is rich with descriptive passages and imagery that lets readers join the old miser as he travels the fanciful journey led by Ghosts of Christmases past, present and yet to come.

The classic story is so well-known and so over-imitated that it bears little re-telling here. But this is a pretty good volume to add to your Christmas collection. Some of the positive aspects of the new edition include: the complete text of this Seasonal favorite, the marginal notes—defining some more archaic terms, explaining some of the biblical imagery that may be lost in the reading, and reporting some of the various changes the author made before publication as well as after publication for his public readings—and graded discussion questions that guide study of the story by younger and older readers alike.

There are some drawbacks to this lovely volume, though. The Christian flavor of the new material may limit the audience. For Christian readers though, this will help allow opportunities for discussions of the faith that are deeply imbedded in the text. Also, the notes—while helpful in some respects—can be distracting while reading some of the more intricate passages.

If you’re looking for a beautiful rendering of the classic this edition would be a nice addition to your library. The paperback format makes it an excellent option for group or classroom study as well. I give this new edition four out of five reading glasses.

—Benjamin Potter, November 20, 2009

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