The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas; A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens; The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood by Howard Pyle (Collins £1.50 each) When one buys one of the classics for a child it should be borne in mind that the book will probably be kept for many years and may possibly form the basis of an adult collection.
In that case the presentation of the book bears as much thinking about as the choice of story itself.
While almost all of the famous and well-loved tales will survive the transition from childhood to adulthood, not every version will last the same period. Collins "Classics for Today" series are essentially children's books. The stories have been edited — the long descriptive passages pruned and out-moded language omitted — without disturbing the character of each book.
Line drawings and full colour illustrations are generously distributed throughout each book, making them very inviting to young readers.
A tale of Two Cities has been cut to about half its orginal length. To Dickens fans this may seem a sacrilege, but nothing has been rewritten and this abridged version may well encourage the reader to explore further Dickens' rich use of words and description. . The Merry Adventures of Robin Hood loses the lengthy ballads of the earlier publications together with dome of the over-flowery language.
While the colour illustrations are exciting I feel that the line drawings may be a little too free in style and are slightly confusing. Pyle's own line drawings had a charm which matched the period of the tales.
Of these three books The Three Musketeers is probably the one which benefits most from editing. It appears almost more swashbuckling than the original, in which excitement was sometimes obscured by detail.