Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen: The Story of Six Novels,
Three Notebooks, A Writing Box, and One Clever Girl
by Deborah Hopkinson; Illustrated by Qin Leng
January 23, 2018 (Balzer & Bray)
Nonfiction * Biography * Literary
Audience: Grades 2 to 4
Indiebound | WorldCat
Description from GoodReads: It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is one of our greatest writers.
But before that, she was just an ordinary girl.
In fact, young Jane was a bit quiet and shy; if you had met her back then, you might not have noticed her at all. But she would have noticed you. Jane watched and listened to all the things people around her did and said and locked those observations away for safekeeping.
Jane also loved to read. She devoured everything in her father’s massive library, and before long she began creating her own stories. In her time, the most popular books were grand adventures and romances, but Jane wanted to go her own way . . . and went on to invent an entirely new kind of novel.
Deborah Hopkinson and Qin Leng have collaborated on a gorgeous tribute to an independent thinker who turned ordinary life into extraordinary stories and created a body of work that has delighted and inspired readers for generations.
Quick Thoughts on the Book:
Jane Austen is one of the authors I most admire. Not only have I admired her writing and loved her books but I really appreciate her boldness given the time period in which she lived and wrote.
Deborah Hopkinson works to capture the elements of Austen's life that influenced the young woman and aspiring author. Her life with a sister and six brothers along with the boys in her father's boarding school would have provided a rich in experiences life.
Jane's father also supported Jane's love of books and writing. He provided her with notebooks, a writing box, and he sent her first stories to a publisher.
Qin Leng's illustrations beautifully match Hopkinson's text and made me feel as if I were in an Austen book. I particularly loved the illustrations like the one at the top where Jane is in her father's library and holding a stack of books. Whereas five hundred books may not seem like a huge library today, given the time period, it would have been a significant collection.
The back matter includes a timeline of Jane Austen's life, followed by a short synopsis of her six books including the most well-known or recognized quotes from each book. Additionally, Hopkinson includes additional resources for learning about Jane.
Fans of Jane Austen will appreciate this beautifully illustrated biography, and those who are just learning about Austen for the first time will be inspired to write their own stories. Look for this book at your independent bookstore or community library.
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