The Children of Lir
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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.
Legends and myths undergo many metamorphoses, and one must remember that what may be designated the official version may only be the one which has survived the longest. If, however, a retelling is a radical departure from what are hitherto the known versions, this should be indicated on the cover and the title page and this has not happened in MacGill-Callahan's version of this old Irish legend. Among the questionable aspects of this retelling are the introduction of whale, Jasconius, as a major character, the incorrect spelling of Queen Aoife's name, the portrayal of the children as two daughters and two sons, instead of three sons and one daughter. Most glaring of all is the upbeat ending, belying The Children of Lir's status as one of 'the three sorrows of Irish story telling.' The presentation of this book is stylish and Spirin's illustrations are handsome, but more in keeping with European fairy tales than Celtic legend.