Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Beatrix Potter: A Journal

Beatrix Potter: A Journal

Beatrix Potter
Novelty Book
For ages 9 to 12
Penguin, 2006   ISBN: 978-0723258056

Beatrix is sixteen years old when she decides to keep a diary. In it Beatrix not only describes the events in her life but she pastes in photographs, she adds her own paintings and drawings to the pages, she pastes in a pamphlet from an art exhibition that she goes to, and she includes letters she has received and written; we also get to see her report card, a map, cards she illustrated, and more.

From Beatrix’s entries we discover how much she loves animals and nature and how much her painting means to her. Indeed she finds it hard to pay attention to her schoolwork and would much rather spend her time improving on her art skills. Beatrix keeps lots of animals as pets including two rabbits – Benjamin Bunny and Peter Rabbit. All her animals end up being models for her illustrations and when she is in her early twenties Beatrix starts to create illustrations of rabbits for Christmas cards. Her art is well received and Beatrix is thrilled when she gets her first check.

Beatrix’s next big project is to write a children’s book. Beatrix wrote several illustrated story letters to children whom she knows, one of which is about a naughty little rabbit called Peter. Beatrix decides to borrow back the letters and she creates a little book which she ends up self publishing. The little book does so well that Frederick Warne and Co. decides to publish the story though they ask Beatrix to colorize the illustrations for the new book.

The new book is such a great success that Beatrix finds herself writing and illustrating one story after another and her career is launched. With her considerable earnings Beatrix buys property in the Lake District and she begins a new life as a farm owner, delighting in the countryside, the villages, and the people whom she encounters.

This wonderful multimedia book is a joy to look at. Full of Beatrix’s charming art, her letters, photographs, and more, the book will give readers an excellent picture of what Beatrix’s life was like. The text is based on Beatrix’s journal entries and her letters. We discover where the inspiration for many of her stories and characters came from and, in the back cover of the book, readers will find a copy of Beatrix’s original self published Peter Rabbit story.

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