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Author Topic: Review: Snark, by David Elliot  (Read 3055 times)
Colonel Hawthorne
Snr. Officer
New Zealand New Zealand

« on: December 02, 2016, 05:42:51 am »

Otago University Press 2016.  ISBN 978-1-877578-94-6

Being a True History of the Expedition that Discovered the Snark and the Jabberwock, and its Tragic Aftermath.

Some BG readers may know that one of Capital! Steampunk's regular activities is an ambulatory reading of Lewis Carroll's wonderful The Hunting of the Snark.  We've done this in several venues; first through Wellington's Botanic Gardens a couple of years ago, and most recently last weekend at the steampunk weekend we ran for the Wellington Museum (our first indoor performance).  We therefore take a keen interest in any new Snark-related items that may appear.

I had been alerted to Snark's imminent publication a month or two ago and had placed it on my 'must have a look at that when it comes out' list.  But what I didn't know was that one of my steampunk friends in Dunedin knows the author and was even giving him a hand with one or two of the props used as illustrations.  So it was a surprise when an interestingly large parcel arrived a couple of days ago containing a copy of the book, handsomely inscribed to Mrs. Hudson (the younger) and myself.

Snark tells the story of the expedition from the point of view of the Boots, probably the youngest member of the party, and covers much detail omitted from Carroll's poem - notably the the reason the expedition was mounted in the first place, considerably more about the voyage and, most significantly, an explanation of What Happened Next.  This latter section also reveals what Snarks and their Boojum variants actually are ... but I shall not spoil the surprise.  The book also neatly ties Jabberwocky, Carroll's much shorter poem from Through the Looking Glass, into the Snark story.

The book is a delight.  The words and illustrations complement each other wonderfully, and I particularly liked Mr Elliot's technique of including what seem to be some of his working drawings in a number of the finished pages, as in the scene with the Bellman and the Baker, above.  There's also a delightfully quirky Notes section which explains many of the possibly obscure references in the poem, such as bathing machines and railway shares.

David Elliot is an accomplished author and illustrator of both his own books and those of others, including some of New Zealand's most highly-regarded children's authors.  With Snark he's beautifully captured and built on Lewis Carroll's original and produced something much richer which I can see myself returning to often, if only to find another detail I'd missed in the illustrations.

If I have one gripe it's with the indexing in the Notes section, which a couple of times refers to incorrect page numbers.  But that's very minor and I imagine will be sorted out in the second printing.

I thoroughly recommend Snark, both to those who already know and love Lewis Carroll, and for anyone who's yet to have the pleasure (perhaps a child near you ... ?).

The book is available on Amazon, or from here in the UK and Europe or here in the US.  Or pester your local bookshop to get you a copy.  It's well worth it.

One final note: the friend who sent me my copy of Snark is Countess Simona, the inventor of Splendid Teapot Racing (with which I have tormented BG before).  Apparently she was as surprised and delighted as I was to see this - a Snark-cooker:

I think we both now feel the urge to create a new racing teapot to this design - unless David Elliot does it first.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2017, 09:02:43 am by Colonel Hawthorne » Logged

Colonel Sir Julius Hawthorne
H.M. Air Privateers (Retd.)

Whatever did we do before retro-futurism?
Colonel Hawthorne
Snr. Officer
New Zealand New Zealand

« Reply #1 on: August 19, 2017, 07:35:47 am »

Just a quick update to say that Snark this week won both the Margaret Mahy Book of the Year Award and the Russell Clark Award for Illustration at the New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults.

Congratulations, David Elliot.
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