- Age Range: 8 - 11 years
- Grade Level: 3 and up
- Series: Classics for Young Readers
- Paperback: 218 pages
- Publisher: P & R Publishing (July 1, 2001)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0875527264
- ISBN-13: 978-0875527260
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 12.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 50 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,060,692 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Sir Gibbie (Classics for Young Readers) Paperback – July 1, 2001
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From Publishers Weekly
George MacDonald's 1870s' Sir Gibbie, about a destitute Scottish orphan, was reportedly a favorite of C.S. Lewis's. An edition of the novel, prepared by Kathryn Lindskoog, inaugurates a Classics for Young Readers series, while a companion, Sir Gibbie: A Guide for Teachers and Students by Ranelda Mack Hunsicker, is available for teachers, students and home-schoolers. In the Guide, Hunsicker contends that Sir Gibbie served as a source for Huckleberry Finn, although Mark Twain (a friend of MacDonald's) upended MacDonald's religious message. Noting that previous editions of Gibbie "cut out much of MacDonald's Christian teaching," Hunsicker adds that Lindskoog's goal was "to restore [the book] to its original Christ-centered plot."
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
SIR GIBBIE is, I think, at once the most direct and most beautiful of all George MacDonalds novels... Children as much delight in its magic as they cherish the enchantment of his fairy tales. -- Greville MacDonald, author of GEORGE MACDONALD AND HIS WIFE --Publisher Comments
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George MacDonald (December 10, 1824 - September 18, 1905) was a Christian (Congregationalist sect) minister, poet, and most famously, the author of children's books, many of them fantasies, though not this particular children's book. In regard to MacDonald's fantasy novels, he inspired fellow fantasy authors Lewis Carroll, C. S. Lewis, and Madeleine L'Engle. C. S. Lewis in particular stated that he regarded MacDonald as his "master."
To adult readers, Gibbie may seem to be, quite heavy-handedly, a Christ figure in this novel, and the novel may seem quite "preachy." However, taken in his own right, as the protagonist of a children's book (to the modern reader it can be read that way, though in 1879, when it was first published, it was novel read by all ages), Gibbie is one of the most sympathetic protagonists I have ever experienced. I loved reading this book as a child, again as a teenager, and multiple other times as an adult. The unabridged, unedited version of this novel may be hard to wade through for some modern readers who dislike transliteration of dialect, because this book is set in Scotland, and is filled with 19th century Scottish brogue. I personally enjoy that and can hear it in my head as I read it and am happy to finally read this book in its original form.
As for this particular edition, it was translated to digital format by a community of volunteers and, as such, is not an elaborate edition with fancy layout. But it is adequate and easily read, and certainly the price is right--it is free.
One of the things I love about George MacDonald is his theology, and while modern writers might count the interspersed sermons in his novels as digression and author intrusion, to me, it's one of the best parts. The man was primarily a preacher, and what he has to say makes me think.
"Sir Gibbie" and its sequel, "Donal Grant", both convey pretty much the same message: a child of God obeys. George MacDonald makes Gibbie mute so that the only gospel he can preach is in how he lives. Gibbie teaches through his actions, and what he does has a life-changing impact on those with whom he comes in contact.
Both books also contain a lot of Scotch dialog. The edition of "Sir Gibbie" I downloaded has a glossary at the back that was helpful for words not in my Kindle's inbuilt Oxford English Dictionary. At first, it's clumsy and slow to read, but after a while, you get the hang of it and have to look up fewer and fewer words. It sort of becomes like translating a foreign language as you read. It slows you down a bit, but you still understand it. I've found that reading aloud helps, too.
I've read this book through three times now, twice in the edited and once in the original, and without a doubt, will be reading it through again.