Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen

Written by Deborah Hopkinson, Illustrated by Qin Leng

“It is a truth universally acknowledged that Jane Austen is one of our greatest writers.” This is the beginning of a wonderful introduction to Jane Austen’s life and literature. I’m a fan of both Jane Austen and the author Deborah Hopkinson, but it was the cover art that really caught my eye. I love the whimsical illustrations throughout the book, which I think helps Austen feel accessible to young readers. Hopkinson shows how Jane grew up in a house full of books and boys, and along with the rest of her family, made up her own fun. Jane first wrote little plays and stories to make her family laugh. She also scribbled her own observations and wry comments in the margins of books. But it’s the way in which Jane invented a new kind if story, one about real people that held “a mirror up to the ordinary world,” that sets her apart. What I really like about this book is the opportunity to see ourselves in Jane’s ordinary, extraordinary life. There might be a young author at one of our schools who could benefit from seeing how Jane developed her writing style from her own experiences. I haven’t seen many books for early readers on Jane Austen, so this would be a great addition to any school library.

Review by Andrea LeBaron, Upland Terrace Elementary Media Center
Rating: ★★★★★ (5 stars)
Interest Level: K-5th Grade

Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen
Written by Deborah Hopkinson, Illustrated by Qin Leng
Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
40 pages
Release Date: January 23, 2018
A review copy was provided by the publisher.

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