Elena the Frog
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This issue’s cover is from the gift edition of Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory illustrated by Quentin Blake and with design and typography by Peter Campbell. The successful collaboration between Roald Dahl and Quentin Blake has played an important part in the popularity of Dahl’s work over the last fifteen years. Blake’s unmistakable artwork truly complements Dahl’s writing. His economical, amiable, illustrative style balances out Dahl’s often expansive language. And the liveliness, humour and pathos of the drawings offer a softer side to Dahl’s sometimes gloriously grotesque, sometimes cruel descriptions of his characters.
Thanks to Penguin Children’s Books for their help in producing this July cover which commemorates the thirty years anniversary of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’s first UK publication.
A good introduction to the format of a novel, chapters and all, for the newly-launched reader, this easily and quickly read volume has the feel of an expanded picture book - in fact one of my eight-year-old guinea-pigs suggested that the generous supply of very simple line-drawings would have been better 'colourful'! It is a ballet story with the traditional elements - jealousy, rivalry, and ultimate victory. Elena wants to dance the part of the princess in 'The Frog Prince', but when she is chosen to be the frog eventually realises that rather than sulking about it, outshining her rival is her best weapon. Apart from a rather unnecessary reference to a 'pain in the bum', the text explores Elena's feelings sensitively, and with a few well illustrated balletic terms thrown in. Described as a bit 'girlish' by one of my testers, it was nevertheless enjoyed.