Follow TV Tropes

Following

Abridged for Children

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/9780745964324.png
Just wait until he gets to the part about what happens to him in the Four Gospels...

Violet: What are you reading?
Charlie Brown: This is an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.
Violet: An adaptation?
Charlie Brown: Yes, it's been adapted for children... It's not unlike drinking diluted root beer!
Peanuts
Advertisement:

A piece of literature is abridged in content and length so that it is suitable for kids. Interestingly, this is often not objectionable material such as violence, but more things like excess description, sappy romance, or long monologues, as these things are considered less likely to be palatable to a child's attention span. Usually the essential part of the story structure is still maintained. Note that this doesn't necessarily exonerate them - Ray Bradbury ranted extensively in the coda of Fahrenheit 451 about how abridging great works of literature was just as bad as burning them.

When done in book form this will commonly feature illustrations added in, though this most definitely does not make them Comic Books. This is also, oddly enough, done to books that were already aimed at younger readers in the first place, such as Alice in Wonderland.

Advertisement:

The "abridged" nature can also vary widely depending on whether the tone or the length itself is what's being trimmed. The Reader's Digest Condensed Version of Saki's "The Open Window", for example, only cut the last line. You can probably guess why.

Compare with Bowdlerized, which is abridged for possibly offensive material. See also Disneyfication and Adaptations for Child Performers. Not to be confused with The Abridged Series.


Advertisement:

Examples:

    open/close all folders 

    Comic Books 
  • The Finder arc "Talisman" has an odd in-universe inversion of this. Marcie Grosvenor remembers her mother's boyfriend Jaeger reading her memorably excellent stories from a book when she was a little girl, and spends years trying to track down the book in question. When she eventually buys a copy, she discovers that it was lowest-common-denominator rubbish and that Jaeger was really improvising the stories he told her and using the book's contents simply as prompts. She feels oddly betrayed by him over this.

    Comic Strips 
  • Charles Schulz poked fun at this trope in an early '60s Peanuts comic strip:
    Violet: What are you reading?
    Charlie Brown: This is an adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.
    Violet: An adaptation?
    Charlie Brown: Yes, it's been adapted for children... It's not unlike drinking diluted root beer!

    Fairy Tales 

    Literature 
  • Great Illustrated Classics are a good example of long literature pared down for younger readers in a way that preserves the integrity of the story while bringing the denser works like "Moby Dick" and "Great Expectations" down to the level of younger readers by simplifying the language.
  • There was a junior edition of Jurassic Park when the film came out, but it was based on the film rather than the original novel.
  • Gulliver's Travels has appeared in children's abridgements, generally consisting only of the Lilliput and Brobdingnag sections, as tiny and gigantic people were thought to be easier for kids to relate to than scientific frauds, Blessed with Suck immortals, historical satire and out-and-out misanthropy. The Lilliputian-fire extinguishing scene is always naturally euphemized.
  • The Thousand and One Nights has also seen a number of children's editions, leaving out the erotic and scatalogical tales. As well as the fact that the entire book is based on a woman's spinning wild "cliffhanger" tales, in order to avoid being killed by her paranoid-jealous husband (to prevent her from cheating on him), by keeping him in suspense to hear the ending!
  • The old Classics Illustrated comic books.
  • This is the in-story reason Mr. Goldman abridged The Princess Bride. He wanted his kids to enjoy it, and there was far too much boring stuff. However, he did leave in all the torture and death (though he does warn us about what's coming at one point, telling us that this isn't Curious George Uses the Potty). Mr. Goldman's (in-story) father's Good Parts abridgment fits the trope more accurately. He tried to leave out the scary parts until he was called on it.
  • Moby Books Illustrated Classic Editions abridged classic novels to a couple of hundred pages — small pages, large print, and one page in each double-page spread had an illustration instead of text. The Moby Books edition of The Count of Monte Cristo is an interesting case study in what's considered appropriate for young readers: most of the book is devoted to the early section with Edmond being wrongfully imprisoned, befriending and learning from a fellow prisoner, and escaping, and then the whole rest of the book is done away with in a few pages. The Count of Monte Cristo himself is hardly in it.
  • Les Misérables is called (affectionately?) by its readers "the Brick", resulting in multiple attempts to shorten it—however, this is not an easy text to abridge. Cut versions always leave the revolution subplot in the dust. Fantine's story is castrated, and all character development not centered on Valjean and Javert is pretty much obliterated. Hugo's tableau of France invariably turns into a good and evil story (Valjean and Javert) with a romance subplot (Marius and Cosette) thrown in.
  • The first novel in the Modesty Blaise series was abridged for young readers in the 1970s, with most of the violent sequences (including one where the two heroes cold-bloodedly murder a pair of mooks) left intact.
  • In the 1980s there was a rather dubious trend of adapting popular action movies for "read along" book-and-record sets. Among those produced: adaptations of several James Bond films and even one based upon one of the films in the Rambo franchise!
  • Maurice Maeterlinck's Life of the Bee had an abridged version published in 1919, titled The Children's Life of the Bee. It excises most of the author's philosophical musings, leaving behind just an educational text on bees.
  • According to a book about the creation and continual reinvention of A Christmas Carol, the most abridged version of the book is printed on four sheets of chewable cardboard and reads, in its entirety, "Once there was a nasty man named Scrooge. He met three ghosts. And he became nice."
  • The Me Reader Story Reader editions of various Disney animated films downplay or remove the darker elements, like removing all references to killing and characters dying.
  • Abridged versions of the Land of Oz books were released ahead of the debut of the 1939 MGM film. Though they were already children's books, they were simplified even further.

    Live-Action TV 
  • The show and the Adventures of Wishbone books are the more familiar version, with modern-day scenes interspersed with the abridged literature with one of the characters being played by a dog. Wishbone Classics was just the abridged novel with occasional commentary from Wishbone from the sides; some of that was also summaries of skipped scenes.

    Myths & Religion 
  • The Bible often gets this treatment, with many different editions of brightly illustrated "Favorite Bible Stories for Children." Such books tend to leave out the complicated theological passages, the arcane details of the Laws of Moses, and the Family-Unfriendly Violence and sex such as can be found (for instance) in the Book of Judges. Interestingly they do usually retain a few violent episodes, such as Daniel in the Lions' Den, David killing Goliath, and of course the Crucifixion of Jesus. What stories made the cut in abridged versions was interestingly listed out here.
  • Likewise, Classical Mythology has a tendency to have a lot of these. For example, a lot of the male lovers of heroes and gods (like Ganymede and Patroclus), kidnapping/rape of children (ever wonder why Oedipus's father had such a terrible fate?), and certain horrifying fates (Oedipus) are just plain omitted.
    • In Germany, Gustav Schwab (probable first-contact for kids and mythology) is guilty as Hades of this trope. Not because of omission of ticklish material, but rather because of turning the Grey-and-Gray Morality prevalent in all mythology into a fairytale Black-and-White Morality. Hooboy, did he smear Karna and whitewash Cu Chulainn. If you "learnt" mythology with Schwab and reread the originals as an adult, you're in for some surprises.
    • Rick Riordan wrote two companions to The Camp Half-Blood Series which tell abridged versions of ancient Greek myths — Percy Jackson's Greek Gods and Percy Jackson's Greek Heroes, which are the old stories as narrirated by his character Percy Jackson in all his sarcastic glory.

     Theater 
  • School productions of Avenue Q are required to remove many of the adult moments of the play. For example, Trekkie Monster is now a social media addict rather than obsessed with pornography, and, as such, "The Internet Is For Porn" is replaced with a new number.
  • The "School Version" of Grease omits any swearing and references to cigarettes and alcohol. The songs Hopelessly Devoted To You and There Are Worse Things I Could Do are also cut.
  • The junior version of Into the Woods goes so far as to cut the entire second act of the original script, therefore completely removing the Deconstruction and Grimmification elements and leaving it a straightforward fairy tale.

    Web Original 

Top