I have read all of Jane Austen works, many biographies, nonfiction, and oodles of sequels — but an Austen-inspired children’s board book? Whoa! Curious? I was. Don’t ya just love the creativity that our Jane inspires?
When I first heard about Pride and Prejudice: Little Miss Austen (BabyLit) by Jennifer Adams, the same author who wrote the lovely Remarkable Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen, I was quite intrigued. Would this be a retelling of one of my favorite classic novels for very young readers? How would it translate into a children’s counting primer? And, how the heck would I review a children’s book – total virgin territory for me.
Once I had a copy of the book in hand, many of my concerns were immediately dispelled. It was indeed a board book, a small compact cardboard version of a book — easy for a child to hold, unrippable and chewable. (Yes. As a bookseller, I have seen many a toddler stick a board book in their mouth and gnaw on it like a teething ring.) At 22 pages, it was both compact and lightweight, but what will ultimately appeal to parent and child is the total Pride and Prejudice theme that author Jennifer Adams and illustrator Alison Oliver have embraced. From the bright and cheery front cover displaying an image of (one assumes) a wide eyed, and very young Miss Austen, to the 20 clever and striking illustrations inside, I was awed by the choice of characters, Regency clothing and objects used and the ease of the text.
As we progress through the book, each of the pages also moves through the opening chapters of Pride and Prejudice, ending at 10,000 pounds a year. Jennifer Adams has selected key points and characters admirably. Parents, grandparents and anyone who is an Austen fan will recognize their favorite characters and scenes, and children will be enchanted by the illustrations and the counting theme. Of course this board book format could not be a full retelling of the entire narrative, but it gives the very young reader an introduction to characters, images, and a bit of the story that they can remember when they watch the movie adaptation and later move into the full novel.
Charming, whimsical and historical accurate, Pride and Prejudice: Little Miss Austen, offers the very young reader an early introduction to Jane Austen – planting seeds for her total world take-over!
Board book: 22 pages
Publisher: Gibbs M. Smith Inc; Brdbk edition (1 Nov 2011)
A life-long acolyte of Jane Austen, Laurel Ann Nattress is the author/editor of Austenprose.com a blog devoted to the oeuvre of her favorite author and the many books and movies that she has inspired. She is a life member of the Jane Austen Society of North America, a regular contributor to the PBS blog Remotely Connected and the Jane Austen Centre online magazine. Classically trained as a landscape designer at California Polytechnic State University at San Luis Obispo, she has also worked in marketing for a Grand Opera company and at present she delights in introducing neophytes to the charms of Miss Austen’s prose as a bookseller at Barnes & Noble. An expatriate of southern California, Laurel Ann lives in a country cottage near Snohomish, Washington where it rains a lot. Visit Laurel Ann at her blog Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog, on Twitter as @Austenprose, and on Facebook as Laurel Ann Nattress.