Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen
Written by Deborah Hopkinson
Illustrations by Qin Leng
Ages: 4 - 8
Grade Level: PS – 3
I’ve loved Jane Austen since I was 16. That’s when my father, a principal, introduced me to PRIDE AND PREJUDICE. Half the titles on my kindle today are versions of P & P. When I saw this book at the library— I had to read it!
This is not an ordinary biography. Its hook shows how Jane was ordinary, and becomes extraordinary. What a clever approach to a biography! Jane was shy. Who wouldn’t be with 6 brothers and a sister? Her dad was a minister so she probably learned discipline. She played games with her siblings, read books on her own, but she became extraordinary. How?
I think it was all that reading! It leads to things, like staging plays, then writing your own. Jane even wrote comments inside her father’s books. He didn’t get mad— he gave her 3 notebooks and a mahogany writing desk. Jane’s words followed her everywhere, and by age 21, she’d written 3 novels. Her father took one to a publisher. He said no thanks, but Jane persisted. After 16 years of writing, editing, and rewriting, Jane published her first novel. She was extraordinary!
I’m glad I read this book. I didn’t realize how long it took Jane to be published. I’ve only worked for 10 years…so she gives me hope. What if I could do something extraordinary, like Jane?
Whenever I read or write, I find a comfy chair with a great view. I get my favorite drink, stretch out, and let the words take me away.