christmas-carolIn this simplistic reworking of Charles Dickens’s legendary tale, Rod Espinosa has switched genders for the main character, with relevant small shifts in her experiences with the three ghosts of past, present, and future. There was, in my opinion, great promise with the beginning of the story, but it soon went off the rails and became fairly pedantic, predictable, and overly precious.

Eliza Scrooge is a successful businesswoman in Victorian England, owner of a garment factory filled with female seamstresses and dress designers. Similar to her renowned male counterpart, she has neither heart nor empathy for anyone. The reader does discover that she once had a beau, but drove him away with her ambition and willpower, and that although she is miserly to others, she does pamper herself quite shamelessly. She appears fairly young, arrogant, and attractive. Other than these small adaptations, the storyline remains faithful to the original source.

The illustrations, while filled with colour and drama, are not entirely successful for me. They fluctuate between realistic depictions and cartoon-like caricatures, often highly reminiscent of manga drawings. This would not be an issue if the angst, pride, and fear on the face of the main character did not create a chasm between effective serious characterization and outright comedy. The ghosts are much more successful and appealing. They are rendered as often indistinct shapes with larger-than-life personalities and definite individual personalities. Their effectiveness, however, also caused me disquiet because of Eliza’s abrupt change in direction after the visitations of Marley and the other ghosts. The change was too abrupt and too earnest with very little meaningful interaction between Eliza and the ghosts. She increasingly appears almost demonic in her relief of surviving the night and being able to rectify the present to stave off the future as shown to her by the ghost. It was difficult for this reader to accept her maniacal joy in light of her rather cold personality as portrayed earlier. While true to the original source, it came across as creepy and macabre in this version — as did her final outfit. She is resplendent in her red pseudo-Santa suit and boots, sexy and totally different from anything she should have in her closet. How and where did she acquire such an outfit? All of her clothing choices preceding her transformation were fairly practical pieces lacking in brilliant colours, which would serve her well as a leader in the fashion industry.

More questions than answers in this adaptation; I do not see the need for purchase while there are numerous successful works already available.

Charles Dickens’s A Christmas Carol: The Night that Changed the Life of Eliza Scrooge
by Rod Espinosa
ISBN: 9781595829917
Dark Horse, 2012
Publisher Age Rating: 8 +

  • Gail

    | She/Her Professor, Library and Information Studies, University of Alberta


    In addition to teaching at the School of Library and Information Studies (University of Alberta) where she is an adjunct professor, Gail tells stories and conducts workshops on a wide variety of topics across Canada and the United States. Each year she teaches the following courses for the University of Alberta. All of her courses are delivered online: Storytelling, Comic Books and Graphic Novels in School and Public Libraries, Canadian Children’s Literature for School and Public Libraries and Young Adult Literature. She also teaches a course on Indigenous Literature for the ATEP program (Aboriginal Teacher Education Program) at the University of Alberta. Gail is the award-winning author of nine books on storytelling and folklore in popular culture.

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