So I ran across these little gems recently:
The premise of the books is that they are based (very, very, very loosely) around a theme from a canonical novel. So Sense and Sensibility is about opposites, Wuthering Heights is about the weather, etc. (Although Anna Karenina is a “fashion primer” and Jane Eyre is about… numbers, so make of that what you will). While the books have no plot-line, they are beautifully illustrated in ways that are suggestive of the original novel, and, also, often contain snippets of text in smaller, more ‘adult’ fonts. Clearly there is a dual audience in mind here – the bright colors and sturdy cardboard necessary for Baby, and the wittiness (and snobbery?) to tempt the parent. It strikes me, too, that the books represent a selection of novels that seem to be not only easily-recognizable but that have been adapted before- Dracula, Sherlock Holmes – and as such exist as much in our ‘cultural canon’ as in their original forms.
Really puts Hutcheon’s section on “Show and Tell” in a whole new light, doesn’t it? Plus, apparently they are also available as e-books with read-aloud functions and interactive elements. So many options to make the 19th century novel accessible to the pre-school crowd.