Thursday, 27 November 2014

King Kong by Anthony Browne, Adapted from the story by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper (Picture Corgi)

King Kong

Adapted by Anthony Browne

From the original story by Edgar Wallace and Merian C. Cooper

Published by Picture Corgi

King Kong is a character with almost limitless and timeless appear. When I was a kid, the '70s Kong movie was quite literally huge and I also remember watching the original Merian C. Cooper movie starring Fay Wray on TV.

Since then we've also had Sir Peter Jackson's treatment of the movie but who better to put together a version for children than an author-illustrator who conjures up the most amazing simian stories, Anthony Browne.

Browne's version of Kong isn't a toothless treatment for children, but a very faithful adaptation of the original story wrought in Browne's utterly divine illustrative style. Telling the story of young Anne Darrow, a would-be ingenue who falls on hard times and is rescued by a slippery movie director and producer to star in an upcoming blockbuster. Anne meets Carl Denham and is whisked off with his production company to the mysterious Skull Island, reportedly the home of a fantastical beast known only as Kong.

Kong is a gigantic gorilla, fearsome and mighty and Anne is captured and offered up as a sacrifice to the beast. Rather than wolfing her down in one gulp though, Kong rescues Anne and falls in love with her. His ultimate undoing as he tries to protect her at great expense to himself as Kong is captured and paraded as an attraction by the nefarious Denham.

You're probably familiar with the rest of the story, and what happens when Kong is let loose on New York and runs amok. With movie-like pacing and a frenetic energy showing that Browne obviously had a huge passion for the subject matter, we're treated to his rather fantastic vision of Kong and his supporting cast, gloriously rendered with Browne's trademark gift for hiding exquisite detail in each panel spread.

It's fairly wordy for a children's picture book so might suit older readers more, but we were completely enthralled and dazzled by this. I'd love to show Charlotte the original movie to see what she makes of it but I'm worried that she might end up sobbing at the end as Kong meets his terrible demise.

Charlotte's best bit: Picking out all the hidden gorillas throughout the book and discovering (with a little help) that Anne Darrow is the spitting image of Marilyn Monroe

Daddy's Favourite bit: A glorious and luxurious version of a well-loved story, showing Browne's obvious passion for the subject matter and unique gift of putting his own touches to make it fairly child-friendly. A stunning book.