Robert Munsch. Illustrated by Michael Martchenko.
Preschool - grade 2 / Ages 4 - 7.
Jule Ann came thump, thump, thump, thump down the stairs to eat breakfast. There was a cookie jar on the table. She turned it upside down, but nothing came out.In the children's lit. world, the linkage between Robert Munsch and illustrator Michael Martchenko is virtually automatic. However, Munsch's first two books, The Dark and Mud Puddle, both published in 1979, were illustrated by Sami Suomalainen, and it wasn't until Munsch's 1980 book, The Paper Bag Princess that the creative duo of Munsch and Martchenko began. While it is most unusual for fiction to have "revised" editions, Munsch's texts are but the static form of an ever changing dynamic, his storytelling. Consequently, over time, the printed version can depart from what children are hearing when Munsch tells the story to a live audience. Dwindling stock and the need for reprinting provide publisher and author with an occasion to make modifications, and, in the case of The Dark, the opportunity to change illustrators.
She pounded on the bottom, but still nothing cam out. She held it up and looked in.
A small dark thing fell out, bounced on her nose - boing - and bounced across the table - boing, boing, boing, boing. [1984 edition]
When Jule Ann came down the stairs for breakfast, there was a big cookie jar on the kitchen table. She turned it upside down, but nothing came out.
So she hit the bottom of the jar, whap, whap, whap, whap; and still nothing came out. Finally she held the jar up over her head and looked in it.
A small dark lump fell out, bounced on her nose and rolled across the table. [1997 edition]
Most readers likely know the story of the little girl, Jule Ann, who accidentally releases the shadow-eating dark. As the dark consumes more shadows, its size increases until it blocks out all light. A clever Jule Ann, however, finds a way to trap the benign monster. In the 1997 version, the basic story remains unchanged, but Munsch adds greatly to the dark's personification simply by transforming it into a proper name, i.e. the Dark. Some few sentences are deleted while others are combined into longer, more effective ones. The biggest alteration in the text occurs through Martchenko's using his own page breaks. As a consequence, the book shrinks from 28 to 24 pages. While Suomalainen boxed both Munsch's text and his own illustrations, Martchenko utilizes the entire page as well as four double-page spreads for his cartoon-like, action-filled illustrations. The overall result is that the 1997 version seems to be faster, brighter and more lively while offering much more for the eye.
School and public libraries will want to add the new version of The Dark to their collections, but they should not discard the original Suomalainen-illustrated rendition for language arts and art classes could be enlivened through a comparison of the two editions.
Dave Jenkinson teaches courses in children's and YA lit. in the Faculty of Education, University of Manitoba.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS FOR THIS ISSUE - October 31, 1997.
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