I suppose that this is a “tale as old as time.” Everyone I know has been exposed to some form of a classic condensed for ease of reading. Anna Karenina, without a single troublesome, alternative form of address left in the translation. The Three Musketeers, pared down for middle grade readers. Yet, the BabyLit series has to be “extraction” in its most extreme form.
Great works of literature, boiled into basic reading primers. Random bits are highlighted. See if you can guess which behemoth of the Western canon is broken down into Sailors, Ship, Captain, Harpoons, Whale? Or, White Rabbit, Black Shoes?
Are they really that much more intellectual than the other color primers out there on the market? No. Is your child any more likely to gravitate towards “the masters” because you bought, say, Little Master Kipling’s The Jungle Book: An Animals Primer instead of Dear Zoo? I doubt it.
Nevertheless, as a new parent recently thrust, rather reluctantly, into actual children’s literature (as opposed to, say, thousand page tomes with a villain set on racial purity and genocide masquerading as such to reach a larger audience), I see the main appeal for the BabyLit series as being for me.
My seven month old can appreciate them just the same as the Little Critter books, but while I am slugging through yet another counting primer, I can wonder- or snicker- about whether the pretty J & R illustration across the page from from 2 Loves in Little Master Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet: A Counting Primer refers to the title characters or To Juliet and Rosaline? Or, the wasted opportunities, such as, in Little Miss Bronte’s Jane Eyre: A Counting Primer, where “1 Governess” could have been followed by “2 Wives” instead of “2 Trunks.”
So, at least for this adult, I declare them a success.