Book review by
Patricia Tauzer, Common Sense Media
Jabberwocky Book Poster Image
Classic poem played out on the basketball court.

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The parents' guide to what's in this book.

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What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this poem written by Lewis Carroll is given a new twist on the basketball court, but it still hovers somewhere between silly nonsense and pure rhythmic genius.

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What's the story?

\"The Jabberwocky\" poem by Lewis Carroll, written in nonsense words, is re-imagined here as a story about a 14-fingered beast who takes his prowess onto the basketball court. The beast is figuratively \"slain\" by a beamish boy who takes him on in a game of one-on-one.

Is it any good?

With broad strokes, bright colors, and words that shout from the page, the inner city summer comes alive in this reinvention of the Jabberwocky. When Alice first heard the Jabberwocky in Through the Looking Glass, she didn't know what to think. "It seems very pretty ... but it's rather hard to understand!" she commented. And, most readers would agree, even in this new modern version set on an inner city basketball court. But somehow, through the rhythms and with a little help from the illustrations, even the youngest reader will get it.

In this version, re-imagined by the award-winning talent of Christopher Myers, nonsense makes sense. Though the words don't always fit the story perfectly, the rhythms pull them through, and Lewis Carroll's poem takes on the personality of an energetic rap song. And the basketball court seems the perfect setting. The 14-fingered basketball player who dominates the courts as well as the entire playground is as scary a Jabberwock monster as could be imagined. And, after the "beamish" boy challenges, and beats, him, the neighborhood celebrates: CALLOOH! CALLAY! as the hero struts off "chort[ling] in his joy."

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families will enjoy reading and re-reading this poem book, which lends itself to dramatic play and surprising interpretation. What exactly is a "jabberwocky?" Or, for that matter, what do any of the other words mean? Besides discussing the nonsensical words, note the rhythms. And, of course, play with the basic question: How can we follow the story that is told in words we don't understand?

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