In his first battle with the great white whale, Captain Ahab lost his leg. Living with the constant reminder of his failure, Ahab gathers a second expedition, with the singular purpose of hunting and killing the beast that crippled him. Told from the perspective of crew-member Ishmael, the hunt for Moby Dick leads the crew ever further from civilization and deeper into the madness of their vengeful captain. At once a rousing adventure, a thorough examination of the whaling industry, and a dramatic tragedy on par with Shakespeare and the Greek playwrights, Moby Dick is the ultimate American literary epic.
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.