Revisit Your Favorite Childhood Stories: Annotated Children’s Classics

As children we were first introduced to stories, such as E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web or Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. The tales, themselves, so powerful and engaging, that they are still enjoyable to read as adults. Take a look at their respective annotated versions (The Annotated Charlotte’s Web, edited by Peter F. Neumeyer and The Annotated Gulliver’s Travels, edited by Issac Azimov), however, and the interpretations, explanations, and commentaries, supplementing the original texts, will shed a whole new light on these beloved childhood reads

Original texts paired with annotations by scholars or literary analysts, allow readers to delve deeper into the author’s thought processes, character resources, historical influences, inspirations, and so much more. How did Tinker Bell get her name? What is the origin behind the Cheshire Cat’s infamous grin? How did Swift’s politics influence Gulliver’s Travels? You may be surprised to learn “scholarly secrets” as they are are revealed in stories we first heard as children. Below are five titles to pique your interest:

The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition with an introduction and notes by Martin Gardner. For over half a century, Martin Gardner has established himself as one of the world's leading authorities on Lewis Carroll. His Annotated Alice, first published in 1960, has over half a million copies in print around the world and is highly sought after by families and scholars alike ”for it was Gardner who first decoded the wordplay and the many mathematical riddles that lie embedded in Carroll's two classic stories: Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Forty years after this groundbreaking publication, Norton is proud to publish the Definitive Edition of The Annotated Alice, a work that combines the notes of Gardner's 1960 edition with his 1990 update, More Annotated Alice, as well as additional new discoveries and updates drawn from Gardner's encyclopedic knowledge of the texts. Illustrated with John Tenniel's classic and beloved art ”along with many recently discovered Tenniel pencil sketches” The Annotated Alice is Gardner's most beautiful and enduring tribute to Carroll's masterpieces yet. The redoubtable Gardner has been called by Douglas Hofstadter "one of the great intellects produced in this country in this century." With The Annotated Alice: The Definitive Edition, we have this remarkable scholar's crowning achievement.

The Annotated Cat: Under the Hat of Seuss and His Cats with an introduction and annotations by Philip Nel. How did Dr. Seuss come to write The Cat in the Hat? How long did it take him to write The Cat in the Hat and The Cat in the Hat Comes Back? Were these books instantly successful, or did their popularity build? The answers to these questions and more can be found in this fascinating illustrated study of two books that changed the way our children learn how to read. According to Professor Nel, The Cat in the Hat and its sequel operate on many levels. The books teach reading, but they also teach about poetry, politics, ethics, comics, history, and even conartistry! Complete with the text of both books, photographs, draft material, and essays by Seuss, The Annotated Cat is like a DVD with all the extras. Cat lovers everywhere can gain a deeper understanding of two of the most popular children's books ever written, and the remarkable man behind them.

The Annotated Hobbit annotated by Douglas A. Anderson. For readers throughout the world, The Hobbit serves as an introduction to the enchanting world of Middle-earth, home of elves, wizards, dwarves, goblins, dragons, orcs and a host of other creatures depicted in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion -- tales that sprang from the mind of the most beloved author of all time, J.R.R. Tolkien. Newly expanded and completely redesigned, Douglas A. Anderson's The Annotated Hobbit is the definitive explication of the sources, characters, places, and things of J.R.R. Tolkien's timeless classic. Integrated with Anderson's notes and placed alongside the fully restored and corrected text of the original story are more than 150 illustrations showing visual interpretations of The Hobbit specific to many of the cultures that have come to know and love Tolkien's Middle-earth. Tolkien's original line drawings, maps and color paintings are also included, making this the most lavishly informative edition of The Hobbit available. The Annotated Hobbit shows how Tolkien worked as a writer, what his influences and interests were, and how these relate to the invented world of Middle-earth. It gives a valuable overview of Tolkien's life and the publishing history of The Hobbit, and explains how every feature of The Hobbit fits within the rest of Tolkien's invented world. Here we learn how Gollum's character was revised to accommodate the true nature of the One Ring, and we can read the full text of The Quest of Erebor, Gandalf's explanation of how he came to send Bilbo Baggins on his journey with the dwarves. Anderson also makes meaningful and often surprising connections to our own world and literary history -- from Beowulf to The Marvellous Land of Snergs, from the Brothers Grimm to C. S. Lewis.

The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth with an introduction by Jules Feiffer and annotations by Leonard S. Marcus. The Phantom Tollbooth [by Norton Juster] is a universally beloved childhood classic. In the 50 years since its original publication, millions of children have breathlessly followed Milo's adventures in the Lands Beyond. Now Leonard Marcus, a nationally acclaimed writer on children's literature, has created a richly annotated edition of this perennial favorite. Marcus's expansive annotations include interviews with the author and illustrator, illuminating excerpts from Juster's notes and drafts, cultural and literary commentary, and Marcus's own insights on the book. The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth also includes an introduction that shares the fascinating background on the book's publication-Juster and Feiffer met as young neighbors in Brooklyn, New York, and thus began a fortuitous collaboration on a project that would become an instant classic-as well as its enduring place in the world of children's literature. The Annotated Phantom Tollbooth is the perfect way to honor a classic and will be welcomed by young readers and fans of all ages.

The Annotated Wizard of Oz edited with an introduction and notes by Michael Patrick Hearn. A beloved classic comes to life with this beautifully illustrated annotated edition on the 100th anniversary of Oz. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz is the quintessential American fairy tale, but also one of the most controversial children's books ever published. Michael Patrick Hearn, the world's leading Oz scholar, provides a spellbinding annotated edition that illuminates all of Oz's numerous contemporary references, provides fascinating character sources, and explains the actual meaning of the word "Oz." A facsimile of the rare 1900 first edition appears with the original drawings by W. W. Denslow--scrupulously reproduced to mimic their correct colors, using a different color for each region of Oz -- as well as twenty-five previously unpublished illustrations. In addition, Hearn provides an extensive bibliography, compiling Baum's published work, every notable Oz edition, and the stage and motion-picture productions from 1939's The Wizard of Oz to the 1974 Broadway smash The Wiz. The result is a classic to rival Baum's own, and a book no family's library can do without. 90 black-and-white, 56 color, and two-color illustrations throughout.

- Anna V.


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