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CHARLES DICKENS by Diane Stanley


The Man Who Had Great Expectations

by Diane Stanley & Peter Vennema & illustrated by Diane Stanley

Pub Date: Aug. 1st, 1993
ISBN: 0-688-09110-5
Publisher: Morrow/HarperCollins

The authors follow their splendid Bard of Avon (1992, ALA Notable) with an equally handsome book on the beloved novelist. Dickens's troubled, well-documented life has plenty to interest children—the early vicissitudes depicted in David Copperfield, his championship of needy children, the reception of his books and dramatic readings in the US (where he was ``horrified by the hideous institution of slavery''). Nicely shaping their lucid, accessible narrative, the authors begin with Dickens's boyhood dream of living in Gad's Hill (his actual home in his last years) and temper a discreet account of his unfortunate marriage with first-love Maria Beadnell's comical reappearance—plump, middle- aged, and tiresomely persistent. While linking the biographical facts to the fiction, they focus on the life itself; it makes a lively, entertaining story for children who enjoy A Christmas Carol in its various guises. As in Bard, Stanley uses an elegantly muted palette and delicately stylized figures, bringing decorative period patterns to her beautifully structured compositions; full-bleed art draws readers into the appealing scenes, while b&w text-page vignettes recall Victorian engravings. A must. Brief bibliography (standard adult works; three books for young readers; 14 of Dickens's most familiar works). (Biography/Picture book. 8+)