Thursday, October 20, 2011

Charles Dickens: The Man Who Had Great Expectations by Diane Stanley

Diane Stanley is a wonderful nonfiction writer. She has written dozens of these short picture book biographies of famous women and men. I actually personally own several of them. This is a nice illustrated biography of Charles Dickens. Dickens' life is remarkably like one of his novels. He was born to a middle class family and started in a respectable school at a young age. Then his family fell on hard times and eventually his father was put in debtor's prison. Dickens had to leave school and work in a factory to support himself at age 12. Later his father received an inheritance, so that he was released from prison, but he didn't send his son back to school right away. He worked in the factory, 10 hours a day, for two years as a young teen. It is terrible to think of, but it gave the boy, and later the man, amazing material that found its way into his stories. As a young writer he quickly rose to fame and wealth, far above his original social status. Stanley's writing is interesting and engaging. She is careful with her research and doesn't introduce too much fictionalization. This book has full color illustrations on each page that seem to be well researched and historically accurate. Reading this book made me want to go back and read some of the Dickens' novels that I never got around to before. (45 p.)

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