When I heard about the #2016classicschallenge  I couldn't help but jump on board. I have read several classics, many during my year li...

2016 Classics Challenge

Sunday, January 31, 2016 BookBairn Blog 22 Comments


When I heard about the #2016classicschallenge I couldn't help but jump on board. I have read several classics, many during my year living in Paris where the local library stocked mainly classics in it's English-language book section, but there are still so many more to discover. And, if you've read our post 'Do Children Still Need to Read the Classics?' then you will know that BookBairn is already well-versed in some of the literary greats!
I thought I'd start off this challenge by reading a modern retelling of the Jane Austen classic Emma (thanks for the Christmas gift Gma BookBairn), which has been reworked by Alexander McCall Smith. I have read Emma more times than I can count and I absolutely adore it! So much so that some friends were surprised that BookBairn was not named Emma! And so I had to get BookBairn a version of 'Emma' for her to read. Having already amassed a substantial collection of BabyLit classics, we have been reading one from the Cozy Classics series by Jack and Holman Wang.

This series of books are absolutely adorable! They tell a (very) abridged version of the classic story over 12 double page spreads using key words and photographs of felted figures portraying the main characters. There is only one word per page so they have clearly been carefully chosen in order to highlight the important moments of the plot, but the story is not explained any further so requires an adult familiar with the original story to fill in the gaps, help children make connections between the photographs and the text and bring the story to life. As I mentioned, I am a huge fan of Austen's Emma so that was not a problem. I found this approach to key word 'primer' books rather refreshing by moving away from books which group words according to concepts such as shapes, colours, animals, etc. and instead introduces key words through a narrative. Re-telling the classic stories using simple and child-friendly words but still maintaining the format of a narrative will help little readers to put these words in a context and I think this will help with their understanding. That is not to say that concept-based word primers are not valuable, I just liked having an alternative to go along side that approach, as I said it is refreshing. 
Also refreshing is the fact that this book does not have traditional illustrations but instead has photographs of beautiful felted figures posed in appropriate settings to retell the story. I love the fact that many of the photographs have been taken outdoors! The dolls are created with incredibly expressive faces which will certainly help readers to understand the key words and the story. The tilted heads, winks and furrowed brows remind me of the way that the characters are brought to life on screen! As with the original text there is a rollercoaster of emotions but all turns out right in the end: it's amazing that such a small book can pack so much in! (But I guess it doesn't really pack it all in, it's just that I can fill in the gaps.) Obviously, there are many scenes, characters and events missing from this abridged version but, for me, it certainly captures the spirit of the story.

Of course, I hope that BookBairn will grow up to love the character of Emma as much as I do and I believe there is no substitute for the Austen novel so I look forward to the day when we can read it together. But I don't think that the authors have any intention of trying to dissuade older readers from enjoying the full story but rather provide a valuable introduction to the setting, characters and essence of the novels.

I will be looking out for more of the Cozy Classic series as we attempt to read a classic every month for the #2016classicschallenge, particularly Jane Eyre (which I am ashamed to say I have not yet read) and War and Peace (as we've been watching the dramatisation on BBC). But it is also worth noting for little (or big) Star Wars fans that Jack and Holman Wang have created an adorable series of books retelling the films in 12 words with felted versions of the characters we know and love).

Hope you've had a lovely weekend curled up with a cozy classic of your own,
Love Mummy and BookBairn xx











One from the cutting room floor: "sometimes mummy's phone is more interesting than my book".


http://www.runninginlavender.com/?utm_source=hootsuitehttp://www.mamamummymum.co.uk/2015/11/read-with-me-2015-45.html

We are linking up with #SundayStars ; #readwithme on Mama Mummy Mum and #weekendbookclub with Mummy in Training.

22 comments:

  1. I'd never heard of these cozy classics before. What a great idea! My two are too old for these now, but I bet they're fantastic for book-loving parents to bond over reading with their kids.

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    1. Exactly! Books that appeal to parents and children! Thanks for reading

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  2. Please note G'ma BookBairn has copy of War and Peace should it be needed!

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    1. So does Mummy but it's soooooo long! I think I'll just stick with the Cozy Classic version too! x

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  3. The illustrations look fascinating and most unusual. Look forward to BookBairn showing them to me. Will be home from across the pond soon. xxx

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    1. Maybe between Gma's knitting and Papa's photography skills we could create a Cozy Classic of our own!

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  4. We have a My First Austen Pride & Prejudice and it's great, although I did write a blog post about how it's setting BB up for disappointment (mansions, a man with an income of £10,000 a year, etc)! #sundaystars

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    1. Hahaha! Love it! Not heard of the My First Austen but will check them out now! Thanks for reading x

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  5. We did the 2015 Classics Challenge. We're still trying to read a classic a month but we're not necessarily documenting all the books that we read on Story Snug.

    Thank you for displaying the International Book Giving Day badge on your blog :)

    #readwithme

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    1. I'm plotting my #bookgivingday plans so not a problem! I'll document some I think this year but probably not all, as it will take away from blogging other things - there's just not enough typing time in the day! x

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  6. Awww love the idea of these books. Will have to look for some for son and daughter. Thanks! #weekendbookclub

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    1. They are too cute! Perfect cute wee readers! x

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  7. Aww what a lovely book I have never heard of this before but what a great book for babies I love the pictures too #readwithme

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    1. They are relatively new but there's a whole collection to collect so BookBairn will need to save her pocket money!

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  8. I have to admit I've never read a lot of classics, this is a fab way of introducing them to kids though. Thanks for sharing with #ReadWithMe

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    1. You should try the #2016classicschallenge on Twitter. It's really good and you can see what others are reading. Think I'll probably include a lot of children's classics so my reading list doesn't get too heavy!

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  9. These are such a lovely idea - will have to have a look into them myself!
    Thanks for linking up to #SundayStars

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  10. A lovely way to start reading and good to see a different approach #readwithme

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    1. It's a nice introduction to classics and although BookBairn is too young to appreciate it yet it's nice that she can read the 'same' book as mummy!

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  11. wow i havent heard of these before but i will defo be on th look out for them now - they look fantastic! thanks for sharing and linking up with #weekendbookclub Suz x

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    1. Thank you! They were one of those random independent book shop finds. I often find independent book shops have a more interesting selection than those of mainstream high street!

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