Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Review: The Pagemaster

by David Kirschner
Age Recommendation: Elementary
Hardcover, 96 pages
Published November 28th 1993 by Turner Pub
Series: none

Summary (from Goodreads):
Books didn't really interest ten-year-old Richard Tyler. As far as he could tell they didn't cause mercury poisoning, earthquakes, or any of the host of other things that Richard was afraid of. This all changes, however, when Richard meets the Pagemaster, keeper of the books and guardian of the written word, and is plunged into a land where the world's greatest stories have become reality. Upon entering the realm of classic literature, Richard watches kindly Dr. Jekyll turn into the maniacal Mr. Hyde; comes face to face with Long John Silver, the meanest, most black-hearted pirate who ever sailed the seven seas; and is swallowed whole by a firebreathing dragon.

Timid and overcautious, all Richard wanted was to get out of a rainstorm and call his parents. Instead, he is given an adventure that will change his life forever. Joined by three unlikely companions-library books who have come to life-Richard is forced to confront his fears and find the courage he didn't know he possessed. What began as a young boy's quest for home and safety turns into a voyage of personal growth, friendship, and an appreciation for the power of books. Heeding the advice of the Pagemaste, When in doubt, look to the books," Richard learns lessons about literature, life, and humanity.

My Review:
Had I begun The Pagemaster with different expectations, I think I would have liked it quite a lot. As it was, however, I was expecting a MG with illustrations, and I got a very text-heavy picture book.

Because there was so much text, I kept wanting the writing to be just a little bit more sophisticated, and getting frustrated when it continued to be "dumbed down." Even if the book was written for kids, it could still have writing enjoyable for people who might, for instance, be reading it to those kids. And if it was for kids, it was very long for a picture book, and I doubt someone learning to read or having a book read to them would be able to sit through the entire book. Maybe it would be a good read-aloud book if split across several days. The chapters even provide convenient stopping places.

The pace was a little strange, slowing down at parts to describe a scene, and speeding through others only to get a point across (usually to introduce a character from another book) and continue with the story. Apparently there’s a movie, which might have influenced the style and odd pace.

I did enjoy the whole premise (I've always been a fan of the main-character-goes-into-a-book storyline) and liked the references to famous literary works, although I'm not sure how many of the references kids would get (Moby Dick? Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?).

Overall Thoughts: Despite the unsophisticated writing and the choppy pace, I really liked both the story aqnd the illustrations, and I'd pass the book on to others to experience Richard’s journey with him.

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