A Boy Called Dickens, Deborah Hopkinson, Schwartz & Wade Books, 2012.
Format: picture book
Genre: picture book
What did you like about the book? The illustrations are well done and help drive the story by depicting old London and the difficult childhood Dickens’ endured. Many people may be unaware of the financial struggles Dickens’ family faced when he was a boy, since the novelist kept this part of his life a secret for many years. While Hopkinson explains in her endnotes that the book is based on actual incidents and pieces that Dickens wrote about his own life, she does emphasize that it is a work of fiction. Readers will enjoy the overall message of the story of a young boy never giving up on his dream despite facing many difficult obstacles.
What didn’t you like about the book? There are many very positive reviews for this picture book, however the topic and writing style may not resonate with all readers. There are many references to Dickens’ books and characters he created throughout this book, which may be unfamiliar to younger children. At times, I also felt the literary device of the narrator directly addressing the reader to be forced.
To whom would you recommend this book? I would classify this book as an advanced picture book geared toward students in grades 3 to 5.
Who should buy this book? School libraries serving grades 3 through 5 and public libraries
Where would you shelve it and why? Advanced picture book collections
Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles? Not at the top, but definitely one to consider for collections
Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Laura Tierney (MLS student & intern), Chelmsford Public Library, Chelmsford, MA.
Date of review: