A few years ago, I did a write-up on several "young reader" adaptations of The Time Machine — ideal as Christmas gifts for the young (and not so young) Time Machine fans in your family...Well, since then, a whole new crop of such adaptations has turned up. Therefore, given Christmas time is fast approaching, it's about time for an update on recent offerings. Several of these adaptations are also intended for the school market but all except one are widely available at most major bookstores.

Penguin Books "Penguin Readers"
retold by David Maule
illustrated by Maggie Downer
cover art by Dominic Harman
Click on image for examples of Illustrations
from this edition

Let's begin with the new Longman adaptation - already out since 2006. Longman was probably the earliest publisher to create a simplified text adaptation of the classic Wells story as far back as 1952. The Longman edition is now published by Penguin books in their "Penguin Readers" series. Longman publications are destined for the school market and include an activity supplement at the back. However, the simplified text and attractive illustrations they contain are very well suited to young people in general or individuals learning English in any context, be it school or home. The text in this edition, by David Maule, is actually quite close to the original Wells text both in content and in length. In fact, its length (which includes just about every episode in the original) may discourage very young readers although older children and teens (or adults learning English) may find it a more satisfying read than the more common abridged text adaptations. Fans of the Pal movie will recognize the marked influence of the Time Machine design on the cover illustration by Dominic Harman. The book also features a series of attractive fine pen illustrations by Maggie Downer. The Longman adaptation is easily found at large bookstores or on the net.

"Ravenscourt Books" retold by Carole Gerber illustrated by Kelly Grupczynski
cover art by Kelly Grupczynski
Click on image for examples of Illustrations
from this edition

For younger readers, another school edition is offered by Ravenscourt Books. The text by Carole Gerber is not too long, in large print and sometimes softens some of Wells's storyline. One cannot but smile upon reading the narrator's description of time traveling as "...the sun hopped through the sky like a rabbit as the days sped by... "Nonetheless Carole Gerber's adaptation retains many of the characteristics of the original story and even includes the journey into the far future. The illustrations by Kelly Grupczynski (who also created the colourful Pal inspired cover art) have a sweet Disney-ish edge and will undoubtedly be enjoyed by younger readers. One regrets that there are only four altogether. This also happens to be the one hard-to-get adaptation since Ravenscourt Books are only obtainable as part of a collection of classics sold exclusively through the schoolbook market by SRA/McGraw-Hill.

Stone Arch Books "Graphic Revolve"
retold by Terry Davis
illustrated by José Alfonso Ocampo Ruiz
cover art by José Alfonso Ocampo Ruiz

Click on image for examples of Illustrations from this edition

For its part, Stone Arch Books undertook quite an ambitious project in the production of an elaborate all colour graphic novel adaptation. The production is lavish and impressive and is available in both a soft cover edition and a so-called library binding. Unfortunately, illustrator José Alfonso Ocampo Ruiz was too heavily influenced by the visuals in the ambiguous DreamWorks movie remake of 2002 and the result is somewhat confusing. For example, we see in the introduction the depiction of an Uber-Morlock (an invention of the DreamWorks screenplay writer), even though no such Uber-Morlock appears in the adaptation. Another DreamWorks influence is the depiction of the Eloi as dark skinned rather than light skinned (as Wells describes them) and the abodes of the Eloi dug into the sides of cliffs. The Eloi are correctly depicted as of very small stature but bald - except for Weena who, inexplicably, is depicted as of normal human size and with a full head of hair ! Probably one of the most glaring mistakes in Ocampo Ruiz's illustrations is to have literally plagiarized artist Danny Cardle's 3D renderings of the Pal Time Machine (that were posted here a few years ago). Literal copies of Danny's work appear on several pages of the book as well as on the cover. Ocampo Ruiz appears talented enough that he should not have resorted to such a practice. Quality-wise, this is one of the most impressive graphic novel versions of The Time Machine ever published but the borrowed and uninspired visuals make it one of the least interesting. This edition is partly redeemed by the text by Terry Davis that does follow the general Wells storyline. However, it is an extremely abridged and simplified one, which does away with too many of the episodes in the original story. The book concludes with a section containing notes on H. G. Wells, time travel and questions on the text. In short, a beautiful production but a disappointing content.

Sterling Publishing "Classic Starts"
retold by Chris Sasaki
illustrated by Troy Howell
cover art by Troy Howell

Click on image for examples of Illustrations
from this edition

Printed on fine paper and featuring a high quality library binding, probably the classiest presentation is the one offered by Sterling Publishing in its "Classic Starts" series. This edition, which came out earlier this year, features several subtle pencil illustrations by fantasy illustrator Troy Howell who also painted the evocative cover depicting the Time Traveller on his time journey. The adaptation by Chris Sasaki — over 140 pages long - is a fine retelling of the Wells story that is fairly elaborate and even includes a slightly altered introduction which sees the narrator describing his arrival at the Time Traveller's house. Another amusing change is "the artist' -instead of the doctor -sending the miniature Time Machine off into the future... Otherwise, Mr. Sasaki pretty much adheres to Wells's storyline and does not dilute any of Wells's social commentary on class divisions. A highly recommended first rate production available at most large bookstores.



Real Reads
retold by Eric Brown
illustrated by Felix Bennett
cover art by Felix Bennett

Click on image for examples of Illustrations
from this edition

Hot off the presses is the latest and perhaps most offbeat adaptation I have come across in the last few years: that published by Real Reads in the UK. Clearly aimed at children, the text by Eric Brown, although very abridged, nonetheless manages to retain the flavour of Wells's writing style in a way I have seldom seen in so short an adaptation. However, this adaptation is unique in great part due to the weird and whimsical illustrations therein by quirky UK illustrator Felix Bennett. Bennett's scribble-like pen and watercolour drawings are splattered all over this book and are bound to surprise and amuse readers of all ages. Admittedly, there is a somewhat caricatural tone to many of his illustrations, which some may dislike. But it is a marked departure from the type of illustrations one is use to associate with The Time Machine and it deserves a look if only to peer into the eccentric imagination of Mr. Bennett. The back section of the book contains several pages of information and research suggestions on Wells to encourage young readers to further their understanding of this classic novel. Recommended as the "and now for something completely different" adaptation of The Time Machine. This adaptation has just barely been released in the UK and should be available in America shortly.

Once again, make sure that your little ones - like wee Jamie - find a book in their Christmas stocking or under the Christmas tree and, of course, make sure that this book is entitled "The Time Machine" !

Click here to see the previous article
with other illustrated adaptations


These adaptations are available through Amazon.com
This one through Amazon.co.uk

The Time Machine

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