Written by Lewis Carroll & Meredith Brucker, Illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch | Kids Can Press 2004
Often considered to be the greatest nonsense poem written in the English language, Jabberwocky was written by Lewis Carroll and originally featured as a part of his novel Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There in 1871. In Jabberwocky, Carroll created an altered sense of meaning through the coining of new words, called portmanteau words. A portmanteau is, of course, a large suitcase, and as Humpty Dumpty explains to Alice in Through the Looking-Glass, a portmanteau word is “two meanings packed into one word.” Like, “chortle,” which is the combination of “chuckle” and “snort.”
This 2004 version, illustrated by Stéphane Jorisch, is testament that nonsense never goes out of style, and in fact, makes as much sense (or non) as it did over a century ago. Jorisch creates a fantastic modern-day nonsensical world of his own with her muted pen-and-ink watercolors. The introduction of televisions and spy cameras lend a certain spooky and military element to the story—not to mention that the actual slaying of the Jabberwock is fairly graphic. His characters are both dark and humorous and all masterfully drawn. The design of this tall, slender book contributes greatly to its excellence. Each page is composed with its own dramatic scale and unique point-of-view—complimented with playfully energized typography. The words are absolutely alive on every page. This is a book that will last a lifetime on a child’s shelf to be revisited time and time again as age changes their perceptions. Parents will find new pleasure and meaning in indulging in a little more nonsense.