Title: Oliver Twist (Campfire Classics)
Author: Charles Dickens, adapted by Dan Johnson
Illustrator: Rajesh Nagulakonda
Publisher: Campfire, an imprint of Kalyani Navyug Media Pvt. Ltd.
Concepts: child schooling and work, poverty, scarcity, wants and needs
Review: Oliver Twist, a 9-year-old boy, runs away to London to avoid the misuse he is subjected to at the workhouse and later as an apprentice. However, in London, he meets with misadventure after misadventure when he is taken under the wing of Fagin and his gang of street urchins involved in petty theft. Luckily, chance encounters also bring Oliver into contact with Mr. Brownlow and the Maylies, who work to help Oliver out of his ensnarement with the street gang and to reveal the mystery of his birth.
This version of Oliver Twist condenses Charles Dickens’s renowned Victorian novel into an 80-page graphic novel. As adapter, Johnson does a good job reducing the page length of the book while still retaining all aspects of the story. Nagulakonda’s illustrations breathe additional life into the story by adding emotive characterizations and portraying the stark contrasts between Oliver’s life in poverty and his life when sheltered by upper-class families such as the Maylies. The book begins with a brief introduction to the Dickens’s life and ends with additional factoids on London during the author’s lifetime, noting problems of poverty and sanitation. All and all, this makes for a good introduction into Dickens’s works for younger or reluctant readers rather than the original – and for some, intimidating – 400-page novel.
Like many other of Dickens’s works, Oliver Twist is rife with economic concepts as the author uses the complex melodramatic plot to comment on serious issues of his day such as poverty and crime. In particular, the novel serves as a commentary on the welfare system of the time and how badly the poor were treated. Beyond pointing out the obvious consequences of poverty such as the lack of spending money for wants, Oliver Twist also serves to illuminate the far-reaching effects, including poor living conditions and sickness while highlighting the need for social reforms such as compulsory education for children and stricter child labor laws.
Review by: Rutgers University Project on Economics and Children