When I say “Charles Dickens,” what stories pop into your mind?
Maybe it’s A Christmas Carol. Or David Copperfield. Or Oliver Twist.
Whatever the tale, Charles Dickens’ stories crafted intricate and unforgettable characters. In this new book by author Deborah Hopkinson (and illustrated by John Hendrix), A Boy Called Dickens, it’s plain to see how much of Dicken’s childhood influenced his later writing.
In our homeschooling, we’ve been learning about Victorian England and the harsh working conditions experienced by young children who were forced to work in factories. Dickens, as a boy, was one of these poor children who worked ten hours a day, forced into a life of factory work as opposed to being able to attend school with some of London’s more privileged kids.
You’re sure to feel pity on Charles when he walks past the school and towards the murky shoe polish factory instead. You’ll feel a glimmer of hope as you see his storytelling alive and well in the midst of his repetitive factory tasks, as well as when you see him rush home to get his ideas down with slate and pencil. You’ll feel sorry for his family, pent away in debtors prison. You’ll be grateful for many of the luxuries we have today, as well, after reading this story.
A Boy Called Dickens, part fact, part fiction, weaves together a real and candid picture of what life was like for Dickens as a twelve-year-old boy, and for many others like him. It’s also an eye-opening look into what might happen if childhood is squelched and young, lofty dreams aren’t encouraged and realized.
FTC info — Disclaimer: I received the book mentioned above from Random House in exchange for my review. I received no product or monetary compensation for this honest review. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”