Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen: The Story of Six Novels, Three Notebooks, a Writing Box, and One Clever Girl

Deborah Hopkinson, illus. by Qin Leng. HarperCollins/Balzer + Bray, $17.99 (40p) ISBN 978-0-06-237330-4
Writing in a warm-humored, matter-of-fact tone, Hopkinson traces Jane Austen’s path from a curious and shy childhood into a quiet adulthood as a practiced and determined author. Hopkinson clearly emphasizes how Austen’s work was, in many respects, revolutionary, despite the “simple life” she led: “Jane went her own way, inventing a new kind of story about real people, and sisters (like Cassandra and herself), who longed to follow their dreams.” Leng’s watercolors combine light, blushing shades of color with delicate ink outlines, bringing a fitting lightness to the story of a writer who wanted readers to “recognize (and laugh at) themselves” in her books. It’s a charming account of pride and persistence that concludes by wondering “if Jane would be surprised to learn that her books are still read and loved by people all over the world? Maybe. Then again, maybe not.” Ages 4–8. Author’s agent: Steven Malk, Writers House. Illustrator’s agency: Shannon Associates. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 12/18/2017
Release date: 01/01/2018
Genre: Children's
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