A simple introduction to Jane Austen’s life and work.
Hopkinson’s light, conversational tone and obvious appreciation for her subject combine with Qin’s lively ink-and-watercolor illustrations to create an engaging portrait of this talented writer. The relatively brisk recital of the events of Jane Austen’s life is leavened by insights into her personality and childhood experiences. Realistic vignettes, single-page illustrations, and double-page spreads of Jane and her family accompany and expand the text; generous use of white space and delicate linework give the pictures an airy feel. Unlike Lisa Pliscou and Jen Corace’s practically simultaneously publishing biography (Brave Jane Austen, 2018), potentially distressing details are glossed over, and the narrative focuses on Austen’s early years. No mention is made of Jane’s serious illness as a child or of the Austen family’s financial difficulties. Rather, the focus is on Jane’s appreciation for her father’s extensive library, her pleasure in writing amusing stories for her family to enjoy, and the fun of family theatricals and games. This approach brings Jane endearingly to life for an audience that has likely never heard of her and provides context for the description of her later experiences and lauded writing style. Several pages of backmatter, including a timeline, summaries of Austen’s major works, and additional resources, may be beyond the interest and abilities of most young listeners but share the accessible tone of the text.
A perfectly pitched celebration of an esteemed author that may nevertheless struggle somewhat to find an audience. (bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 6-8)