Scenes from an Extraordinary Life
Publication Date: November 2011
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"Its verve and wit are infectious... a wonderful, enduring introduction for young readers." - The New York Times Book Review
The extraordinary life and genius of Charles Dickens is brought alive for primary-age children by the author-illustrator team behind the bestselling What Mr Darwin Saw.
Published to celebrate the bi-centenary of Dickens' birth, this beautifully and entertainingly illustrated 48 page picture book vividly dramatizes his life, beginning with his birth in Portsmouth and early childhood near the docks in Chatham, and follows the young Charles through the hardship of working in a blacking factory at the age of 10 to his years at school and his early career as a reporter. Key incidents that inspired the later novels are described, and his marriage, family life, dramatic readings and tours of the USA are included.
What emerges is touching portrait of a writer with amazing observational skills, a social conscience and a strong sense of drama.
Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom specialise in fun, lively non-fiction picture books. They share the illustrations between them and mix up words and pictures in inventive and delightful ways.
"In Charles Dickens: Scenes From an Extraordinary Life, Mick Manning and Brita Granstrom take us through the whole life, and do so very wittily, with a telling use of incidents evidently culled from a wide reading of the biographical literature: all sorts of striking detail, like Dickens leaping up from his writing desk to check the expressions on his own face as he wrote, create a fresh and often funny sense of the man. The major novels are neatly summarized in strip cartoons, the visual style is vivacious, with spoken texts ballooning out of people’s mouths, and there is a strong feeling of a life lived. The story is a little uncertain chronologically, and there seems to be some confusion as to when Dickens grew his beard (1857, for the record), but these are tiny faults; anyone of any age who is interested in Dickens would gain something from this book: its verve and wit are infectious. The darker side of Dickens is not dwelt on nor, for this readership, should it be. The subtitle sums it up very well: a wonderful, enduring introduction for young readers." Simon Callow, The New York Times
Rich, scholarly with a light touch and a perfect introduction to Dickens for primary school children. Dr Margaret Mallett, Goldsmiths College, University of London