- A Christmas Corral, written and illustrated by Lucas T. Antoniak (CreateSpace/Amazon Digital Services, 2016).
This picture book, based on A Christmas Carol, casts Scrooge as a surly sheep who's the bane of the barnyard. (His first name now is, of course, Ebaaanezer.) Antoniak takes quite a few liberties with the story, as you would expect, but his humorous narrative and delightful illustrations capture the spirit of the classic. My favorite part: the drawing of Tiny Tim, who sports an enormous wool Afro. Lots of fun for younger readers.
- What the Dickens!?: Distinctly Dickensian Words and How to Use Them by Bryan Kozlowski (Running Press, 2016). If we're being strictly truthful, not all of the words and phrases featured in this interesting little book are "distinctly Dickensian"; several of them were only popularized by Dickens. But we get lots of information about how he used them, and along the way we also get plenty of information about Victorian customs and institutions, from dancing academies to childhood drinking to surgery without anesthetic. As you might have gathered from that description, some of it is entertaining while some could more properly be called horrifying, but all of it is well researched, well illustrated, and highly readable.
- Dickens, Religion and Society by Robert Butterworth (Palgrave Macmillan, 2016). As you know if you've been reading this blog for a while, the topic of Dickens and religion is a particular interest of mine, so I'm always avid for new books and articles on the subject. This one joins Gary Colledge's Charles Dickens and God on my list of indispensable books in that subgenre. Butterworth, a lecturer in England, sets out to demonstrate that "Dickens did indeed have a sophisticated understanding of and engagement with his religion," and he does so thoroughly, showing through the published novels and the personal writings that Dickens was both conversant with the theological arguments and church matters of his day, and deeply concerned that the moral teachings of faith be applied in practical ways. Especially valuable are Butterworth's chapters dealing with Dickens's hesitation to embrace trade unionism in Hard Times, and with "the persistence of evil" in A Tale of Two Cities.
(Review copies obtained from the author, from Amazon, and from the publisher, respectively.)