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Edgar Allan Poe's Tales of Mystery and Madness Hardcover – September 1, 2004
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From School Library Journal
Grade 6 Up–Grimly's deliciously malevolent illustrations are the perfect complement to Poe's macabre stories. Four of the writer's most popular tales are presented in an abridged format: "The Black Cat," "The Masque of the Red Death," "Hop-Frog," and "The Fall of the House of Usher." The watercolor and pen-and-ink artwork is populated with deftly drawn cartoon humans, animals, and other beings, many with grotesque or sinister expressions. The pictures cover, crisscross, or circle the margins of the pages and are often contained in ornate art-deco frames along with small blocks of text. Libraries needing an additional copy of Poe's writings should consider this one.–Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
*Starred Review* Gr. 7-12. Archetypal horror writer Poe has received a variety of graphically enhanced treatments in recent years, including a volume in Eureka Productions' Rosebud Graphic Classics series (2001) and Jonathan Scott Fuqua's In the Shadow of Edgar Allan Poe (DC Comics, 2002). This exceptionally well-produced collection of four tales will, perhaps, reach a wider audience. The gently abridged retellings are in Poe's original language, and Grimly's wonderfully ghastly, full-color spot and full-page art splendidly depicts the mayhem that leads to murder in "The Black Cat," the partying in the "The Masque of the Red Death," the vicious genius of "Hop-Frog," and the dual connotations of "The Fall of the House of Usher." In addition to varied sizes and presentation of images, Grimly uses different typefaces to set off aspects of the narratives, which flow across the pages in the traditional manner rather than appearing in comics-style panels. With high-production values and gothic sensibilities thoroughly reflected in both text and art, this is an essential purchase for libraries. Adults can use it to lead young people to some great literature; readers will pluck it off the shelves themselves for creepy, entertaining fun. Francisca Goldsmith
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Updated - 9/1/13
I had totally forgotten I had gotten this online and while I was looking through my reviews I remembered! I figured I should add some things with an update.
I'm an art teacher and had brought this in as a visual example or story illustration to my highschoolers for a project. Later on I saw one of my students who was always giving me trouble was reading it and I'm talking REALLY reading it not just looking at the pictures. At the end of class, which was at the end of the day, I saw he still hadn't left yet and went over to chat. It turns out he really wanted to finish and when he closed the book and asked him if he realized he had just read stories by Edgar Allen Poe (someone he'd heard about but disregarded in English class). He seemed throughly surprised and when I informed his English teacher she loved it! I gotta say I didn't by this book expecting to help expand a students knowledge that way but hey, you gotta appreciate it's impact!
'After his instruction's through, he leaves to go find someone new.
When he chooses to meander, he flies away upon his gander.'
-- from the poem Father Grim
'She would scream, curse, spit, and swear.
She said things children wouldn't dare.
To other classmates, she would be cruel,
And so she made no friends at school...'
-- from the poem Miss Muffet
'Jill would jab him with a pin
While she bared an evil grin.
Jack would bash her on the head,
Without guilt, until she bled.'
-- from the poem Jack and Jill
(If you're looking for a book of rhyming poetry, skip Grimly's Wicked Nursery Rhyme series and check out J.T. Holden's Alice in Verse: The Lost Rhymes of Wonderland instead -- at times wicked, always clever, and thoroughly engaging, the poetry of Alice in Verse is galaxies beyond Grimly's pedestrian jingles...and Holden wisely leaves the illustrations to Andrew Johnson, whose art brings the characters of Wonderland to life in truly stunning halftones.)
That said, Grimly's artwork is another matter altogether. What he lacks in skill with the pen, he more than makes up for with his brush. With Tales of Mystery and Madness, Grimly has wisely chosen to leave the writing to a professional and concentrate his effort on what he does best. Leaving little to the imagination (and that's a good thing here), Grimly paints a stark and vivid backdrop for the classic spine-tinglers of Edgar Allen Poe. With his trademark burnt browns and gloomy amber backgrounds, Grimly sets precisely the right tone for the tales contained in this book: The Mask of the Red Death, The Black Cat, Hop-Frog, and The Fall of the House of Usher. With deciduous branches, blooded moons, spindly limbs, flourishing quills, and skewered framing, Grimly's art is woven into each tale in a manner so seamless as to suggest the art and text are one.
Highly recommended for fans of both Poe's Prose and Grimly's art.
P.S. As a side note, I purchased this used and was not aware that it came from a library that was no longer lending it out. The book came full of library stamps and identification marks. I had purchased it as a gift and ended up keeping it for myself on account of these obvious markings. I understand that you get what you get with a gently used book, but I wish I had known about the markings.