Young Jane Austen: Becoming a Writer
Author: Lisa Pliscou
Illustrator: Massimo Mongiardo
Published: April 20, 2015 by Wyatt-MacKenzie Publishing
GoodReads Summary: What was Jane Austen like as a child? What were her formative influences and experiences, her challenges and obstacles, that together set her on the path toward becoming a writer?
Drawing upon a wide array of sources, including Austen’s own books and correspondence, Lisa Pliscou has created a “speculative biography” that, along with 20 charming black-and-white illustrations, offers a fascinating glimpse into the world of young Jane Austen. Also included is a richly detailed, annotated version of the narrative and an overview of Austen’s life, legacy, and the era in which she lived, as well as a timeline of her key childhood events.
Young Jane Austen is sure to intrigue anyone interested in Jane Austen, in writing and the creative process, and in the triumph of the artistic spirit.
Review: I enjoy the way this book is formatted. The first half (or so) tells the story of Jane Austen as she grows up—before she became a writer. It gives a strong historical background of the expectations (or lack of expectations) for women at the time. While much isn’t known about Jane’s early life, the author does an excellent job creatively interpreting events with what we do know. The next section is an annotated version that reveals the author’s decisions for the text, and the last portion discusses Jane Austen’s later life as a writer. Readers will be inspired to take on some of Austen’s novels after reading this book. The beautiful paper and illustrations of this book made me wish that more books were creatively printed. I felt as if I was reading a text from the time period of Austen’s life, which made me feel warm and fuzzy.
Please note: I tagged this book as historical nonfiction and narrative nonfiction because it bridges both genres. It is a creative nonfiction, and the later portions of the book are more informational. These kinds of books make genre-sorting seem a bit silly.
Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: This text begs for readers to conduct research. They could delve into Jane’s novels to connect her life details with her works. They might also research more about the time period or another favorite author’s early life. The annotated section is particularly interesting to me. I would love to have my students annotate a text looking for the author’s purpose.
Discussion Questions: How was your life different from Jane Austen’s life? How do the expectations for females impact Jane?; What adjectives would you use to describe Jane? Why?; How does the format of the book enhance your reading? Do you know any other books like this?
I couldn’t help but share how beautiful the inside of this book is. Image taken from: www.goodreads.com.
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