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The publisher's blurb which accompanied this retelling speaks of 'a classic tale brought to vivid life for children by two prodigious contemporary talents', claiming that the book is 'accessible' to children aged eight and above. It doesn't, however, explain why you'd want to give it to them in the first place. Exactly what is the point of hurrying children into a stripped down version of Great Expectations? For this reworking is inevitably a skeletal account of the novel (95 liberally illustrated pages against the 460 pages of close print of the Everyman edition). It follows the convict-on-the-marshes/Miss-Havisham-and-Estella-at-Satis-House/Pip-in-London/return-of-Magwitch/failed-escape route. Magwitch shows up before halfway and we didn't even know from the text that he had been recaptured on the marshes. Biddy does not appear until she is already married to Joe in the denouement, there is hardly anything of Wemmick (no Miss Skiffins, no Aged P.), no Orlick, no glorious Wopsle giving his Hamlet, and a minor player as rich in exasperating pomposity as Pumblechook is there as no more than a name. Such is the pace that Pip's slow decline into snobbery and London mores is lost. Jaggers' mysterious housekeeper is not introduced until she can't be left out any longer when Estella's parentage is disclosed and a writer as excellent as Riordan is reduced to 'So Molly, the housemaid, must be Estella's mother. It all fitted.' There is no room for most of the comedy which lies, as ever with Dickens, in the detail of the telling rather than the plot. Riordan keeps as close to the original text as he can, though even here some questions arise. If you change 'My father's family name being Pirrip, and my Christian name Philip,' to 'My surname being Pirrip and my first name Philip' (and so on, throughout the text), you lose the very sense of stylistic otherness which for older readers, in due time, is one of the attractions of nineteenth-century literature. So, the justification has to be, even the skeleton of this story is so fine (superior to stories of the present day, maybe?) that children will love it. Or, in some sense, need it - the view that children should know the classics, even in pared down form, because that knowledge will somehow be good for them. This view and the belief that such a book begins an inevitable route towards the complete texts are dubious and certainly impossible to prove. mbrus's unmistakeable illustrations (several of them in colour) are charged with wonderful energy and excitement. They are reminiscent of the work by Charles Keeping which illuminated earlier Oxford books (Beowulf, The Highwayman, et al) in a similar format (20.5cm x 28cm). The street scenes, the images of Magwitch especially, and the episodes on the river are quintessentially Dickensian.