Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Little Miss Brontë: Jane Eyre - A review

Our thanks to Gibbs Smith Publishers for sending us a digital copy of the book for review.

Little Miss Brontë: Jane Eyre
Jennifer Adams
Illustrations: Alison Oliver
Gibbs Smith Publisher (Board Book)
ISBN: 978-1-4236-2474-5
Brontëites now have the earliest possible way of introducing their children to books in general (check out the other titles in the BabyLit collection) and Jane Eyre in particular, thanks to this book born of the collaboration of Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver.

A few weeks ago we looked at Gloria Fortún and Isa Vázquez's collaboration in Charlotte Brontë, which is surely the book your children will be wanting to read if you start by reading them Little Miss Brontë: Jane Eyre. All steps towards the Brontëites of the future, of course.

Little Miss Brontë: Jane Eyre is by definition a counting primer. We can't help but wonder what Charlotte Brontë would have thought of her book being turned into such a thing but we tend to think she would have been at least slightly amused. Victorian critics would have raised their eyebrows though - Jane Eyre at the reach of babies? Impossible!

And yet there it is: 1 governess counting her way up to ten, teaching not just her own pupil Adèle, but babies all over the world. Babies will be mesmerised by the colours (and it being a cardboard book they will also bite off a chunk or two if given the chance) and will possibly learn to count.

But Brontëite parents (those who already have children and those who will have them in years to come) will be delighted at Jennifer Adams's attention to not just numbers and Alison Oliver's detailed work in the illustrations. Apart from colourful, the illustrations are easy on the eye and full of tiny details that will probably be catching the reading parents' eyes long after the zillionth read. Thornfield Hall and its 4 towers is not just the 'castle' it initially looks like: there is much more in it if looked carefully. And we dare parents who have been through it a few times already to not keep on finding new birds  - when you think you have seen them all a new one turns up that makes you admire the creators' craft in the inclusion and the development of such a representative image of Jane Eyre as birds are. And that's just one thing among many other delightful details which will show the (adult) reader that this book is much more connected to Jane Eyre than they thought.

As for Jennifer Adams's work - she teaches children more than just numbers: there are insects and even a spelling rule in there. But what is certainly closer to our hearts is the quote 'I have as much soul as you - and full as much heart', a quotation (and a grammar structure) that - to our knowledge - hasn't been 'allowed' near babies ever.

As for the numbers - which Brontëite's curiosity won't be piqued by the, for instance, '8 drawings' reference - are there truly '8 drawings' in Jane Eyre? After reading this book to their children at bedtime, many will pick Jane Eyre off the bookshelf for their own bedtime too, we know.

A wonderful little book.

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