This brief biography of Jane Austen describes her life and notes the hardships and expectations she overcame to become a published author.
Pliscou paints a vivid picture of the world Jane was born into, from the physical environment of home and village to the strictures on women’s accomplishments and experiences. The relatively lengthy text flows smoothly. It details the hardships that Jane and her family faced, from financial difficulties both before and after her father’s death to Jane’s survival of (and long, book-filled recuperation from) a serious illness, and emphasizes that despite these challenges Jane was dedicated to perfecting her craft. Corace’s illustrations, created using gouache, ink, acrylic, and pencil, have a stylized look and a relatively limited, somewhat subdued palette. They effectively evoke the historic period and include a nod to a popular decorative style of the day in an attractive double-page spread of silhouettes that conveys Jane’s determination as she “read, sewed, planned menus…went to parties, helped to take care of her parents, and…kept on writing her funny, thoughtful stories.” As Deborah Hopkinson and Qin Leng do in Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen (2018), Pliscou introduces a revered author for adults to an audience who has likely never heard of her; as recorded here, Austen’s quiet life doesn’t give children much to latch onto.
An appealing, lively portrait that may nonetheless fail to pique the interest of many in the intended audience. (author’s note, quotations, bibliography) (Picture book/biography. 7-9)