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Hans Christian Andersen

by Jane Yolen & illustrated by Dennis Nolan

Age Range: 7 - 10

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-525-46955-9
Publisher: Dutton

From the ugly duckling to the emperor’s new clothes, Denmark’s 19th-century talespinner has brought us some of the most enduring stories and vibrant metaphors in Western culture. Yolen works hard at making his unlovely and often unhappy life comprehensible for younger readers. She concentrates on his early days: desperate poverty, weird personal habits, and physical unattractiveness combined with an early patchwork education and a later desperate push for theater experience. In the end, though, with the stories learned at his illiterate mother’s knee and his own idiosyncratic reading and drama experience, he was famous indeed, the title’s description coming from Strindberg. Nolen creates wonderful textured illustrations in grayed colors heightened with white, like master drawings on sepia-toned backgrounds. Each spread displays a full-page image, an oval vignette, and a deliciously apt quotation from one of Andersen’s stories, often a lesser-known one. Very well-imagined and -integrated. (Picture book/biography. 7-10)