Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Charles Dickens: Scenes from an Extraordinary Life

Charles Dickens: Scenes from an Extraordinary Life

Mike Manning and Brita Branstrom
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 8 to 11
Frances Lincoln Children's Books, 2011   ISBN: 978-1847801876

Charles Dickens was born in Portsmouth, England, in 1812. When Charles was only ten years old his family moved to Camden Town in London and the boy’s life changed radically. His father had suffered some financial setbacks, and since there was no free public education system in place at that time, Charles could no longer attend school. In fact, when he was twelve Charles had to get a job because his father had got himself into debt. Charles went to work in a factory where he spent hour after hour putting covers and labels on pots of blacking.

Despite his son’s earnings, in 1824 Charles’ father got so far into debt that he was sent to a debtor’s prison, and his wife and children went with him, except for Charles. Poor Charles had to live alone in lodgings and work at the factory.

Finally, in 1825, Charles’ father was able to pay his debts and he agreed to let Charles attend school once more. A few years later the young man, still only a teenager, left school and got a job as an office boy. Not long after he became a newspaper reporter, and when he wasn’t working, he penned short stories that were published in a magazine. Charles’ writing career had begun but he never imagined then that one day his stories would be famous.

In this splendid book the authors pair excerpts from Dickens’ “conversations, letters, quotes, and letters,” with background information about his life and times to give readers a colorful picture of what Dickens’ life must have been like. In addition, they provide readers with graphic novel type descriptions of his most famous novels. The text and artwork is perfectly married to give readers a memorable reading experience that is informative, interesting, and, at times, amusing.