CM . . .
. Volume XXIV Number 23. . . .February 16, 2018
Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen: The Story of Six Novels, Three Notebooks, a Writing Box, and One Clever Girl.
Deborah Hopkinson. Illustrated by Qin Leng.
Toronto, ON: Balzer & Bray/HarperCollins, 2018.
40 pp., hardcover, $21.99.
Kindergarten-grade 3 / Ages 5-8.
Review by Mallory Dawson.
Since Jane had little outside schooling, the library was her classroom. And while Jane devoured everything, from history to poetry to biographies, she loved novels best of all.
Jane Austen is one of the most celebrated authors of all time, but it may surprise you to know that she wasnít rich or famous in her lifetime. In fact, she was quite shy and lived a rather simple life. Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen is a biographical picture book of the young life of Jane Austen, and it is a great introduction to biographies for young people while also serving as an inspirational story of persevering until you achieve your dreams.
Jane is a shy, quiet girl who enjoys making observations about her family and friends. She loves to put on plays for her neighbours, but, best of all, she enjoys reading the novels found in her fatherís grand library. The novels that were popular at that time were adventurous stories with villains and damsels in distress. Jane set out to create her own novels that reflected her life and wrote stories about sisters, families, and love. She wanted people to know that there was something special in their ordinary lives and that we can find comedy in our own relationships.
Lengís beautiful watercolour illustrations set the stage for this 18th century story quite well and assist in bringing young Jane to life. The vocabulary level is quite high, making Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen a great independent read for older children or as a classroom discussion piece.
Mallory Dawson is the Teen Advocate Librarian at Vaughan Public Libraries.
© CM Association
University of Manitoba
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