A Christmas Carol

Retold by Norman Whaler and Illustrated by Bianca Milacic

Fiction - Holiday
36 Pages
Reviewed on 04/02/2019
Buy on Amazon

This author participates in the Readers' Favorite Book Donation Program, which was created to help nonprofit and charitable organizations (schools, libraries, convalescent homes, soldier donation programs, etc.) by providing them with free books and to help authors garner more exposure for their work. This author is willing to donate free copies of their book in exchange for reviews (if circumstances allow) and the knowledge that their book is being read and enjoyed. To begin, click the purple email icon to send this author a private email. Be sure to tell the author who you are, what organization you are with, how many books you need, how they will be used, and the number of reviews, if any, you would be able to provide.

Author Biography

Norman Whaler is from Grosse Pointe, MI, USA. He is a member of SCBWI (Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators), CIPA, IAN, and IBPA. His website is normanwhaler.com

    Book Review

Reviewed by Jane Finch for Readers' Favorite

A Christmas Carol by Norman Whaler is a different approach to the classic tale by Charles Dickens, and is cleverly illustrated by Bianca Milacic. Told in rhyme, the story unfolds on every page and the colourful illustrations give this well-known tale a touch of magic. The classic tale sees Scrooge meet the ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present, and Christmas Future, and results in Scrooge re-evaluating his life and the way he has lived it, and his attitude to others. Although the original story is familiar to everyone, this version is fresh and gives it sparkle whilst having that message of love and consideration for one another.

The author has done a great job of putting this story into rhymes which are succinct and don’t leave any of the main story out, yet are captivating and enjoyable at the same time. The illustrations by Bianca Milacic are colourful and appropriate, and this would be a perfect book for parents to read to a child, or even for an adult to enjoy as the illustrations are pitched at any age. There is an unexpected and welcome addition at the end with traditional Christmas carols with music and lyrics. This really makes the book ideal to give as a seasonal gift to anyone. The cover, too, is stunning and attracts the reader to pick up the book and delve into its pages. I am sure that Charles Dickens himself would love this version, and it’s sure to appeal to everyone.

Jack Magnus

A Christmas Carol is a classic holiday-themed story retold by Norman Whaler and illustrated by Bianca Milacic. Charles Dickens’ classic novella about a stingy man who is visited by three ghosts - who show him the error of his ways - is retold here in verse that works for readers of all ages. Whaler’s retelling shows the grim and self-absorbed man rejecting Christmas until his old partner, Jacob Marley, now long deceased, pays him a visit hoping to spare his old friend the fate that his own behavior earned for himself. Young readers get to experience the classic story in full, seeing Scrooge as a small and lonely boy in boarding school and then revisiting his happier days as a young man. A chastened and infinitely wiser Scrooge survives each spirit’s visit, even the last and most terrifying one, and his renewed sense of joy, generosity and spirit is the high point of this inspiring tale. Whaler also includes the musical scores and lyrics for eight classic Christmas carols.

Norman Whaler’s retelling of A Christmas Carol distills the essence of the original into a form that will capture the imaginations and hearts of young listeners. Dickens’ messages of generosity, charity, gratitude and giving glory to God are timeless ones, and Whaler’s verses convey them perfectly. Bianca Milacic’s illustrations are dramatic and most impressive. Her use of bold colors and stark imagery works so well with the story. You can feel the loneliness and solitude of the young Scrooge as he looks out at the winter wonderland from his classroom window, and her panel showing Scrooge’s journey with the third ghost is powerful indeed. This is a grand selection for reading around the Christmas tree though the message contained is relevant all year long as well. A Christmas Carol is most highly recommended.

Rich Follett

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, retold by Norman Whaler and illustrated by Bianca Milacic, enchants like a Victorian Christmas card newly brought to light after years in a dusty old trunk. At each turn of the page, new delights await, the heart gladdens, and Christmas returns to even the weariest spirit. Charles Dickens' beloved Christmas classic is refreshed by inventive rhyme, making the story accessible for young readers in new ways and inviting new generations to enjoy and learn from this timeless tale of blessed redemption.

Norman Whaler gently infuses contemporary Christian values and imagery into the familiar tale, updating it perfectly for use in children’s services, Sunday school story hours, and family reading at any time of the year. A Christmas Carol, as retold by Norman Whaler, is no longer just holiday fare. This is a splendidly illustrated and lovingly told rhymed rendition akin to Clement C. Moore’s “The Night Before Christmas” and destined to become a classic. Bianca Milacic’s illustrations are a perfect mix of haunting and jolly – never so threatening that children will be frightened but always jolly enough to be reassuring and hopeful. They are rendered in a style that honors classic children’s book traditions but breaks new ground in their translucent vibrancy. The overall effect is much like the old hand-colored animation cells from 1960s animated classics, but with lines and angles more in line with modern tastes – truly, the best of both worlds.

Perhaps the nicest feature of this little gem is the mini Christmas songbook at the end. It features several original tunes by Norman Whaler and a few traditional carols and just begs for a family singalong. One can well imagine this book being read nightly to a child or as a family sharing time for several evenings in a row, with a different song selected each night to celebrate Scrooge’s transformation. A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens, retold by Norman Whaler and illustrated by Bianca Milacic, is such a rare Christmas treat that I want to start making a list of children I can read to this holiday season. This is a volume you will want to hold close and experience again and again.

Barbara Fanson

A classic tale retold! A Christmas Carol retold by Norman Whaler and illustrated by Bianca Milacic is a wonderful edition of the classic Dickens' story, A Christmas Carol, and may even be better than the original. With colorful full-page images and rhyming text, this version of the story is very well done. Author Norman Whaler has provided his adaptation of the Christmas classic with rhyming words and an easier to understand story for children. And parents will enjoy reading the tale with them at Christmas or any time of the year. This version of the greedy miser's story features Scrooge who would rather work on Christmas than visit with his nephew.

The story and the illustrations are wonderful. Artist Bianca Milacic has masterfully illustrated beautiful, full-color pictures for this version of A Christmas Carol. Since the story takes place during the night, the artist uses different shades of purple. It is a rather dark story, but the illustrations are well drawn. The people and their expressions are executed very well. Even the font appears handwritten and cursive just like the original version. I believe this tale—as retold by Norman Whaler—deserves a spot on your shelf at home, as well as in libraries and school classrooms. This version of A Christmas Carol is bound to be a classic just like the original by Charles Dickens.

Marta Tandori

Norman Whaler has taken the perennial favorite, A Christmas Carol, and made the old classic fresh again – but for a much younger audience. Miserly Ebenezer Scrooge lives only to make money. On Christmas Eve, his nephew invites him for Christmas dinner the next day but Scrooge summarily refuses the invitation, intending to work instead. He goes to bed but is visited by the spirit of his dead partner, Jacob Marley, who informs him that he’ll be visited by three ghosts who will try to teach him not to be selfish and greedy before vanishing. True to Jacob Marley’s word, Scrooge is visited by the Ghost of Christmas Past soon after he falls asleep, transporting Scrooge to his past when he used to be happy. As they return to his bedroom, Scrooge is surprised to find the Ghost of Christmas Present waiting for him who takes him to his clerk, Bob Cratchit’s house, where Scrooge sees his employee’s gravely ill little boy, Tiny Tim. The ghost counsels Scrooge, telling him that to those who have been blessed, much is required…

Christmas is a magical time for most children, especially in this part of the world where gifts and food are plentiful and it’s sometimes difficult for parents to teach children the true meaning of Christmas when it comes to giving, sharing and showing charity to others less fortunate. Whaler has simplified the narrative, presenting the story in rhyming verses that a younger child can understand. The subject of ghosts and spirits can evoke fright in most children but Whaler has managed to convey the message in such a way that will not frighten or intimidate small children. The Christmas carols at the end of the story, some more well-known than others, present the ideal opportunity to expose young children to classic carols.

However, a picture book is only as good as the illustrations that accompany it. Thanks to the ministrations of talented illustrator, Bianca Milacic, hers are simple, yet vibrant and tell the story on their own. It’s the faces of the characters and the richness of emotion they convey that add life and expression, making the illustrations come to life. The image of the single crutch shown leaning against the wall is particularly poignant but it’s not entirely clear whether the stark message it conveys will resonate with children as much as it will with adults. All in all, A Christmas Carol is a wonderful take on an old classic.