This is the first in a series of classics retold for younger listeners. Oliver Twist, Dickens's second novel, has enthralled generations of readers since its publication in 1838. Orphaned and desolate, Oliver's journey to London and subsequent induction into its dingy underworld is narrated with ceaseless energy by Jonathan Keeble. His depictions of Fagin and the terrifying Bill Sikes are particularly mesmerising, and his reading is infused with a delicious knack for story-telling. Having been the subject of countless adaptations, Oliver Twist is an essential junior read, and this version is both exciting and accessible. Roy McMillan uses Dickens's original words in the main, simplifying and clarifying them at certain points.
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This retelling presents a condensed version of Dickens's work for young listeners. Smoothly written, it has been considerably shortened from the original. It recounts the main events but lacks Dickens's signature word craft. Jonathan Keeble is an authoritative guide through Oliver's orphan narrative. Keeble's commanding voice presents a series of interrelated vignettes, each separated by period music. His characters each have memorable voices, especially Fagin, who is a bombastic villain fully brought to life. With such voices, Keeble offers a performance, more than a narration. His changing tone and pace draw attention to dramatic events; however, some principals, notably Oliver, sound a bit caricatured. An informational booklet on Dickens accompanies the production. Keeble's vivid reading makes Oliver's story accessible for young listeners. --AudioFile Magazine
Alternatively, if you're a parent of Tory schools minister Nick Gibb's opinion that every child should have read a Dickens novel by the time he/she leaves school, you'd better plug your little treasures into this. It's really just a vehicle for Jonathan Keeble to show off his infinite variety of low-life London accents, but with any luck it will tempt listeners to ask, like Oliver, for more. --Sue Arnold, The Guardian
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