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Grade 5 Up–Jorisch interprets "Jabberwocky" as "a provocative commentary on contemporary media, politics, warfare, religion and gender roles." The stark, dreamlike world shown in his pencil, ink, watercolor, and Adobe Photoshop illustrations is a blend of realism and the bizarre; haute couture and frump; past and future. Huge flowerlike funnels rise from stems in the ground and from pots in a store window. Microphones, video cameras, and a photographer record the quest for the Jabberwock, the ensuing battle, and the kill. The story depicted involves an old soldier who sends his son–a tailor–off to kill the nebulous enemy so that the older man can die in peace; the poem ends with his funeral. Jorisch's visual interpretation of the poem is both provocative and personal, and it incorporates a worldliness and familiarity with human nature that most people achieve only through life experience, making it most appropriate for adults. Joel Stewart's nonsensical illustrations for the poem (Candlewick, 2003) are more appropriate for younger children.–Susan Scheps, Shaker Heights Public Library, OH
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Gr. 6-12. In Through the Looking Glass, Alice's response to "The Jabberwocky" is, "It seems very pretty, but it's rather hard to understand." Artist Jorisch's wild interpretation of Carroll's poem is both pretty and disturbing, and his puzzling visual narrative is wide open to interpretation. Jorisch sets the scene in a landscape that seems both futuristic and crumbling. Here, the personal story of a young man's struggle to heroically slaughter the Jabberwock and please his uniformed father plays out within a larger surreal world that's studded with surveillance cameras and television sets that seem to "burble" war rhetoric. Rendered in scribbly ink drawings and explosive watercolor washes, Jorisch's stylish, challenging scenes reference sophisticated themes-- personal freedom, the pursuit of love and creativity in a bellicose society, the aftermath of war, the influence of the media--that high-school (and university) art and literature students will enjoy investigating. Teachers, too, may want this to liven up poetry units. Younger children, though, will probably find versions illustrated by Joel Stewart or Graeme Base much more accessible. Gillian Engberg
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