From School Library Journal
Gr 2-4-Magnificent paintings in oil and pencil accompany a jaunty retelling in verse of the classic novel. Recounted in the first person by Ishmael, the text, with the lilt of a sea chantey, captures the essence of the original plot, though the rhyme scheme occasionally falters. Whaling lingo such as "Leviathan" and "parmacetti" gives an authentic flavor to the tale and is well defined in the glossary. This bare-bones version is all action with little ability to develop any thematic subtlety or character motivation, but all the elements are in place, including the suitably fierce Captain Ahab. The large format dramatically showcases the sheer majesty of Glass's impressionistic paintings, especially his depiction of Moby Dick, whose white shape rises from the depths and overflows the page, emphasizing his enormity while his all-knowing red eye slyly follows the preparations of the whalers. And the whalers are an appropriately colorful, rough-looking lot with bulbous noses and protruding stomachs. The composition is carefully crafted to make the most of the drama-the scenes of the small boat juxtaposed against the white blur of the behemoth are especially effective. Even the endpapers impress with an image of Moby Dick subliminally superimposed on a map of the world. While it may be many years before the audience will pick up the original work, this rollicking yarn with its splendid art will serve as a stand-alone introduction. Back matter includes information on Melville and the writing of Moby Dick.-Caroline Ward, The Ferguson Library, Stamford, CTα(c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Let’s just agree not to wonder if a picture-book adaptation of Melville’s classic novel of obsession and whaling arcana is needed. Kimmel’s verse touches on all the major plot points, from Ahab pinning the gold doubloon to the mast to the final disastrous encounter, though adult readers may need to take some lengthy explanatory detours to help kids understand how, for example, whales become lamp oil. The verse, at times, succeeds in evoking a jaunty, rough sort of shanty, but there are a few outright clunkers: “I checked into the Spouter Inn / and shared the only bed / with a harpooner named Queequeg. / He had a tattooed head.” Just as the power of the story is undercut by the occasional singsongy rhyme or awkward cadence, the juxtaposition between Glass’ stunningly rendered whale in a vast, sun-sparkled oceanscape and the sometimes clownish figures of the whalers deflates the dramatic grandeur. Still, as an introduction to the famed story, this will likely capture the attention of young readers long before they dive into the real deal. Grades K-2. --Ian Chipman