From School Library Journal
Grade 5–9—In this beautifully designed adaptation of the classic novel, Needle sticks largely to Melville's original wording, but leaves out lengthy passages on whaling and the day-to-day workings of a seafaring voyage. New passages are delineated with an italicized font, and the tale flows fairly seamlessly between the original text and Needle's interspersed summaries and commentary. Although this is technically an abridgement, the length and complexity of Melville's text plus Needle's commentary direct it to an intermediate audience. Handsome pencil, ink, and watercolor illustrations on nearly every spread evoke the vastness and unfathomable mystery of the sea, varying from black and white to full color. A glossary and cross-section of a whaling ship assist in understanding the tale. This version of the story is for readers who want to read Moby-Dick
, with its intriguing characters and thrilling adventure, but are perhaps not ready for the full-length tale.—Shelley B. Sutherland, Niles Public Library, IL
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From Library Journal
November 14 marks the 150th anniversary of Melville's salty saga of vengeance and obsession. Now a contender for the great American novel, this book was harpooned at the time of its 1851 publication by critics who found it overly long and boorish (observations no doubt still shared by countless high school students). They felt that like Ahab, the story didn't have much of a leg to stand on. The once lucrative whaling industry also was in its death throes and of little interest to readers. The book was forgotten for decades before being rediscovered in the 1920s by scholars who understood and appreciated the multilevel symbolism and allegory dismissed by their 19th-century predecessors. Melville published little after the failure of Moby-Dick and made his living as a customs inspector in New York City, where he was born in 1819 and died in complete obscurity in 1891. He is buried in the Bronx. This edition of his masterwork includes the full text along with illustrations of whales, whaling barks, and whaling instruments; maps; and a new introduction by Nathaniel Philbrick. A lot for the price.
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