Monday, January 16, 2012

A Boy Called Dickens

A Boy Called Dickens. Deborah Hopkinson. Illustrated by John Hendrix. 2012. Random House. 40 pages.

This is Old London, on a winter morning long ago. Come along, now. We are here to search for a boy called Dickens. He won't be easy to find. The fog has crept in, silent as a ghost, to fold the city in cold, gray arms. Maybe the boy is down by the river--the thick, black Thames. There are ragged children here, to be sure, scrambling for bits of copper and wood to sell. Or maybe he's dashing into that schoolroom along with the other lads, their cheeks pink from the cold and crumbs of hot buns still on their lips.
Oh, look! There he is--that skinny twelve-year-old, huddled in a doorway, wearing a worn, patched jacket. He is watching the schoolboys with hungry eyes. But though he'd like something to eat, he longs for their books even more. Almost all of his own books, which he loved so well, were lugged to the pawnshop long ago.
Suddenly Dickens is gone.
Hurry! Let's not lose him in the twisting, turning alleys.
There he is, running to that run-down rickety house by the river. Are we brave enough to follow him?

A Boy Called Dickens by Deborah Hopkinson is such a fun book. It is informative, but it's also creative! There's just something so inviting, so engaging about it! I really love the narrative tone of this one.

In this picture book, readers are introduced--albeit briefly--to a young Charles Dickens. Readers see just a day or two, nothing more, from an important time in Dickens' life.

I definitely love this one! It's just beautifully written. What do you think? Do the opening pages make you want to read this one?

Read A Boy Called Dickens
  • If you want a non-intimidating introduction to Charles Dickens
  • If you're a fan of Charles Dickens and are always looking for more to enjoy
  • If you are interested in Victorian England, particularly London
  • If you are interested in what it was like to be a child during this time period

© 2012 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

5 comments:

Susan in TX 2:43 PM  

I saw this written up in the Wall St. Journal this weekend. The reviewer seemed to be doubting the market for such books when kids won't be "re-introduced" to Dickens for several more years when they get assigned to him in high school. I thought the reviewer's take on it was quite cynical and a little sad. (As a homeschooling mom, this is the sort of book we love!) It's nice to see a positive review (and a color pic of the cover).

Becky 2:57 PM  

Oh, that is sad! Picture books don't have to be just for preschoolers. Picture books can be enjoyed at any age.

TBM 3:23 AM  

That sounds like a fun book.

Amy @ Hope Is the Word 12:26 PM  

I interviewed Hopkinson back last year and remember now that she had this book coming out. It looks like something we'd LOVE. I really like her picture books. Thanks for the review and the reminder1

Alice@Supratentorial 2:03 PM  

This looks fantastic! Thanks for the review.

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I'm always happy to hear from you! To help fight spam, comment moderation has been set up for posts older than two days. Feel free to ask me questions or ask for recommendations!

Review Policy

I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

I also review adult books.

I read in a variety of genres including realistic fiction, historical fiction, mystery, romance, science fiction, fantasy, literary fiction, and chick lit. (I've read one western to date.)

I read a few poetry books, a few short story collections, a few graphic novels, a few nonfiction books.

I am especially fond of:

  • Regency romances (including Austen prequels/sequels)
  • Historical fiction set in the Tudor dynasty
  • Historical fiction and nonfiction set during World War II
  • Jewish fiction/nonfiction
  • dystopias
  • apocalyptic fiction
  • science fiction (especially if it involves time travel and alternate realities)
  • fantasy
  • multicultural books and international books

I am not a fan of:

  • sports books
  • horse books
  • dog books if the dog dies (same goes with most pets actually except maybe fish)
  • westerns (if it's a pioneer story with women and children, then maybe)
  • extremely violent books with blood, blood, and more blood

I am more interested in strong characters, well-written, fleshed-out, human characters. Plot is secondary to me in a way. I have to care about the characters in order to care about the plot. That being said, compelling storytelling is something that I love. I love to become absorbed in what I'm reading.

If you're interested in sending me a review copy of your book, I'm happy to hear from you. Email me at laney_po AT yahoo DOT com.

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1) I do not guarantee a review of your book. I am just agreeing to consider it for review.
2) I give all books at least fifty pages.
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4) In all of my reviews I strive for honesty. My reviews are my opinions--so yes, they are subjective--you should know my blog will feature both negative and positive reviews.
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