Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

The Perfect Wizard: Hans Christian Andersen

The Perfect Wizard: Hans Christian Andersen

Jane Yolen
Illustrator:  Dennis Nolan 
Nonfiction Graphic Novel
For ages 6 to 9
Penguin, 2005   ISBN: 978-0525469551

From the time when he was still a young boy, Hans Christian Andersen liked to tell stories. Often he himself played a role in his stories in which he was the hero of the tale. It was Hans’s father who passed on to the young Hans a love of books and the written word. Unfortunately Hans often told stories about himself that made the other children laugh at and tease him. Being a sensitive child Hans was hurt by the treatment.

It was almost a natural transition for Hans to go from telling stories to writing them and though some people laughed at him, others recognized that there was something special about this son of a poor Danish shoemaker.

When he was just fourteen Hans left home and went to the city of Copenhagen. Here he worked hard to become an actor. In addition to his acting Hans continued to write and he even went back to school to get a decent education.

Then, at last, his stories and plays began to do well and his fame grew. Today Hans is best remembered for his fairy tale collections which have enthralled and delighted children all over the world.

With atmospheric art work which show scenes both from Han’s life and also from his famous stories, this wonderful picture book not only tells us about Han’s life but shows us how many of his own life experiences appeared in his stories. For example it is likely that Hans saw himself as the ugly duckling for just like the duckling Hans was unattractive to look at and did not fit in with his peers when he was young.

Carefully chosen quotations from Hans’s books can be found throughout this superbly written book. The author, Jane Yolen, is often called “the American Hans Christian Andersen.”