Glass Town

Michael Bedard, Author, Rick Jacobson, Illustrator, Laura Fernandez, Illustrator Atheneum Books $16 (40p) ISBN 978-0-689-81185-2
It's a daunting task to write as Charlotte Bronte, but Bedard (Emily) carries off ""the voice of a woman of passion and fire and fierce independence of spirit"" quite confidently. He recounts the compelling childhood of Jane Eyre's author and her remarkable siblings in copious text, centering on an ordinary day at the Bronte home in Haworth. Charlotte emphasizes the rhythms of life in mid-19th century England: her Methodist aunt's ""faith is cheerless, full of dread and fear"" as she sets them to their lessons--among them ""...a spelling list, a piece of scripture to be had by heart. Our hearts lay elsewhere."" Indeed, the hearts of Charlotte, Anne, Emily and Branwell dwell in their imaginary world of Glass Town, a fantasy that permeates their household chores and moorland strolls. In full-bleed, realistic seascapes, the husband-and-wife team of Jacobson and Fernandez (Tchaikovsky Discovers America) give life to ""the mighty towers of Glass Town rising from the plain...."" By contrast, the siblings' daily lives are marked by looming portraits in sepia tones (their preacher father winds the clock, the shadow of his arm casting a long, finger-like shadow; Aunt sits with eyes askance and ""threads her needle's narrow eye with skill""). Although children may wish to see more of the fantasy Glass Town, they'll be inspired by the heights to which the Brontes' imaginations took flight--as well as the comfort they found there. Ages 7-12. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
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