A PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick
Melville’s classic tale of obsession and the sea, one of the most important and enduring masterworks of nineteenth-century literature, Moby Dick is a riveting drama, exploring rage, hope, destiny, and the deepest questions of moral truth.
“Call me Ishmael.”
Thus begins one of the most famous journeys in literature—the voyage of the whaling ship Pequod and its embattled, monomaniacal Captain Ahab. Ishmael quickly learns that the Pequod’s captain sails for revenge against the elusive Moby Dick, a sperm whale with a snow-white hump and mottled skin that destroyed Ahab’s former vessel and left him crippled. As the Pequod sails deeper through the nights and into the sea, the divisions between man and nature begin to blur—so do the lines between good and evil, as the fates of the ship’s crewmen become increasingly unclear. . . .
Note to children: this is not Melville's Moby Dick. Drummond (The Willow Pattern Story) has transformed the tome of American Lit into a quick-reading, kid-friendly whale of a tale. His inviting approach (which emanates from his obvious love for the story) involves ruthless editing and nonthreatening visuals. He uses pen and pale washes of color (punctuated by just enough red whale gore to suggest the seriousness of the sport) in a cartoonish style and conversation bubbles with handwritten contents to cleverly convey the episodic quality of the text. Ishmael narrates the story here, too, and chapter headings for each spread aid the story's clarity and momentum. Amazingly, the plot is complete in these 32 pages and includes many of the most fascinating details of the mechanics of whaling. Although some children may have trouble with some of the more adult themes (the fact that this is a revenge mission for Ahab, Queequeg builds himself a coffin and only Ishmael survives), whale and sea lovers will learn a great deal (especially in the concluding author's note). By cagily approaching this classic with a light, non-reverential touch, Drummond may predispose a new generation of readers toward experiencing the original work (that they might otherwise only encounter only in Cliffs Notes). Ages 5-up.