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DICKENS by Michael Rosen


His Work and His World

by Michael Rosen & illustrated by Robert Ingpen

Age Range: 8 - 12

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2005
ISBN: 0-7636-2752-6
Publisher: Candlewick

Following the same format as their work on Shakespeare (2001), Rosen and Ingpen seek to introduce young readers to Dickens’s life and oeuvre. The author’s youth and early career are sketched out, emphasis placed on the family’s hard times and Dickens’s fondness for reading and the theater. Following this brief biographical sketch are a description of Dickensian London, literary examinations of four works and an appreciation of Dickens’s legacy. Accompanying the generously spaced text throughout are watercolor illustrations that echo the 19th-century British landscape painters and caricaturists. It’s a lovely combination, but readers may be excused for asking, “To what end?” The text, acknowledging its audience’s unfamiliarity with Dickens’s work (with the possible exception of “Mickey’s Christmas Carol” and other variants), is a weird combination of patronizing introduction and literary analysis. Asking young readers to indulge in criticism of works they haven’t yet read seems of dubious value in inculcating an appreciation of same. Rewritten for teens who may be studying Dickens, this offering could be of great value, but as it is, the younger audience to whom it’s aimed may be forgiven for passing it over. (Nonfiction. 8-12)