Charles Dickens: Scenes from an Extraordinary Life by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom
|Charles Dickens: Scenes from an Extraordinary Life by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom|
|Category: Children's Non-Fiction|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: A cheeky little biography of Dickens, using his words, and a mix of large spreads and small cartoons, to convey the major points of his life and works.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 48||Date: August 2014|
|Publisher: Frances Lincoln Children's Books|
Whether I shall turn out to be the hero of my own life these pages must show… Such Dickens wrote – although of course he never wrote that about himself. He did write a lot – letters, short stories, travel journals, and of course a firm dozen classic novels – but never a strict autobiography. This book for the primary school age reader gets round that by cribbing bits from here and there, and by using a good graphic eye, to tell the stories of not only his life, but many of the works too.
It's a clever idea, done almost as well as it could be. I'll ignore the silly voice bubbles in the main images, for they add nothing beyond his nickname for his wife (mouse). Through the spread of double-page illustrations we touch on all the relevant factors of his life – the theatre, his schooling, his working in a London factory, and so on through visiting America, to his social reform, that Christmas story, and that train crash. But time is also taken to summarise the books – which is done in a way that didn't exactly turn me on to reading them, but do give some clues as to the style and format many of them follow, despite being reduced to say six cartoon panels and a teasing caption or two.
More important is the full narrative of the life, and this comes across well, but for a few hiccups courtesy of the design. Prevalence on each page is given to the words as from Dickens' pen, so one automatically reads that, even when a smaller, tighter box after that may be much more informative and convey the plot or his biography in a much better fashion. Still, the focus on Dickens' own writing does help to convey the fact that the young scholar can actually read and understand him, thus breaking down the barriers between 2014 and the writer who died in 1870.
I think the book is a little optimistic in thinking its audience will do as it suggests and read and enjoy Little Dorrit all of a sudden, but this is a good primer to everything one would need to know. The painted artworks capture the passing years on Dickens' face, and are very appropriate for the period conveyed. Three years old, and in paperback for the first time, this volume may well be destined for more schools than it is bedrooms, but it is an item very much worth the investigation.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
You can read more book reviews or buy Charles Dickens: Scenes from an Extraordinary Life by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Charles Dickens: Scenes from an Extraordinary Life by Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom at Amazon.com.
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