Discover the life and times of Charles Dickens - one of the great, renowned classic authors, whose works include Oliver Twist, The Pickwick Papers and how could I possibly not mention A Christmas Carol - in this cracking mini biography. Today’s young people are unlikely to pick up a novel by Dickens but his life story is well-worth a read.
Born in England when movies didn’t exist, Charles made up his own adventures. He loved watching people and making up stories about them. When a Dickensian twist of fate landed his father in prison for unpaid debts, Charles had to work in a factory. Eventually finding his way out, he tried his luck as a law clerk, then as a performer before settling as a writer and a storyteller. He would become one of the most beloved novelists of all time whose books are still read today…
Charles Dickens’ life story reads like one of the very novels he wrote. One of the fortunate few who was able to attend school, he had to leave and work in a factory when his father went to prison. His life was one of missed opportunities before he eventually became the famous writer that many know and love. He could easily be one of the characters from his own books; persevering through challenging times to ultimately make the most of life.
He was a pioneer in publishing, to make his books affordable to the masses he released many of his works chapter by chapter. Imagine not being able to read a book all at once and having to wait patiently for the next instalment to be in the shops; I couldn’t bear it. He also used his writing as a platform to raise social issues, for example highlighting the struggles of poor children and giving them a voice in Oliver Twist. Several of the pages of this mini-bio are devoted to A Christmas Carol which is the tale that most children will be familiar with, perhaps having been involved in a school production or seeing the film; the Christmas spirit is well and truly alive within these pages.
Despite Dickens living in the 1800’s he can teach today’s children plenty about getting back up after knock-downs and the importance of dusting yourself off and trying again. Hardship certainly made him stronger and more resourceful and his story exemplifies that dreams can always be achieved and that difficult experiences can be used as motivation and contributors to successes.
Isobel Ross’ illustrations are a particular highlight and really bring the Victorian era to life; quills, top hats, metal hoops, castles, ravens, cravats, child labour in factories, velvet curtains, bedside candles and sailors at the harbour all typify Victorian times. Perfectly pitched for young readers, the story is told in short and simple sentences that provide just enough detail to give a flavour of a famous life. At the back of the the book there is a short overview of his life which includes key facts and dates and a historical timeline featuring photographs.
With thanks to Maria Isabel Sánchez Vegara and Frances Lincoln Children’s Books for the copy that was received through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Recommended for 5+.