Tag Archives: Classic retells

Mary Poppins –  P. L. Travers. Illustrated by Lauren Child



Harper Collins Australia

ISBN: 9780008289362

ISBN 10: 0008289360

November 2018

List Price: 39.99 AUD

On a similar note to the previous post about re-invigorating classics for today’s children, what about this absolutely stunning edition of Mary Poppins which will tie in beautifully with the upcoming movie.


Lauren Child’s instantly recognisable style gives this glorious and magical story exactly the right lift needed to engage today’s readers. The story endures of course, as is witnessed by the large number of children who love the original movie, but to read it themselves with the joy of these lively drawings will make it practically perfect in every way. And it is astonishing to realise just how long ago the first book was published – 1934!! – with the last in the series released in 1988.


It is one of those glamorous quarto sized books which seem even more special as a gift and naturally with Christmas coming up it would delight any child receiving it as a present.


For us Queenslanders, who can claim Pamela Travers (born Helen Lyndon Goff) as our very own, this is even more special and with both the new movie plus the recent Saving Mr Banks interest in this extraordinary woman has been renewed.


What more is there to say about such a superb book? My copy has gone to a very special little girl whom I hope will treasure it and love its world of magic.


Highly recommended for all who want their children to grow up with a sense of true magic.


The Adventures of Pipi the Pink Monkey – Carlo Collodi. Retold and expanded by  Alessandro Gallenzi and illustrated by Axel Scheffler.



Bloomsbury Publishing Australia

Alma Classics

ISBN 9781847495594

RRP $19.99

July 2016


What’s that I hear you ask? Carlo Collodi? You mean the Italian guy who wrote Pinocchio? Yep, that’s the one I mean. And no, I didn’t know he wrote anything else either! By the way, if you have never read the original story but are only familiar with the contemporarised versions (like Disney) you should!


For the first time ever Collodi’s ‘other’ story for children has been translated into English and has also been tweaked by Alessandro Gallenzi. Alessandro is the co-founder of Alma Books (Alma being the Spanish for ‘soul’). This independent publishing company produces around seventy titles a year, many of them translations of classics in languages other than English.


Aside from the fascination of all of this (and I do mean fascination) the story of Pipi is quite charming. With definite overtones of the world’s most famous marionette, Pipi is very different to his brothers not only in his silky pink fur but also because he is the naughty one.

From stealing a peasant’s pipe to losing his tail while tormenting an old blind crocodile to meeting a little boy named Alfred and then being captured by an infamous brigand, Pipi adventure’s are thrilling.

And just as the Fairy with the Turquoise Hair (you know D’s Blue Fairy) promised Pinocchio that he could become a real boy, the rabbit with the turquoise fur makes good on the promise that Pipi will regain his beautiful tail, if only he keeps his word.
I truly love that I can hear Collodi’s turn of phrase and expression in this translation. The story is followed by a wealth of extra material for readers with a glossary of monkey language, biographical information about the author including a letter to his child readers, details of the characters and even other ‘literary’ apes/monkeys.


All in all this is a delightfully different addition to any primary library collection. Not least of all because the message it provides to young readers holds just as true today as it did in 19th century Italy.
Highly recommended for readers from around 8 years upwards.

RealReads: All Quiet on the Western Front & The 39 Steps


I am not sure how others may be using these retold classics from RealReads but they have now published dozens of titles across a wide range of authors and genres, and have sales in excess of 280,000 in many different countries.

There is certainly an argument that these condensed retellings with their illustrations, notes and additional information could well engage readers of lower ability to begin exploring classic stories. To my mind they resemble basal readers for older children in both appearance and appeal and for that reason I am doubtful as to their potential for firing imaginations or encouraging readers to go further.

John Buchan’s thrilling adventure was one of the first of its genre I read as a very young teen many years ago (and then of course followed up by the wonderful movie with Robert Donat and Madeleine Carroll) and I loved it for its intrigue and excitement. Reading this version it seemed all the life had been sucked out of it but for a newcomer perhaps it would suffice. If you have English staff looking for alternatives for struggling students, these could well be the answer.Available in Australia via Tom Danby at INT books.


The 39 Steps

by John Buchan

Retold by Tony Evans

Illustrated by Sarah Wimperis

ISBN 978-1-906230-67-8


All Quiet on the Western Front

by Erich Maria Remarque

Retold by Tony Evans

Illustrated by Sarah Wimperis

ISBN 978-1-906230-66-1