Monday 31 January 2022

Austen-Inspired Children’s Book Suggestions

I have a number of children’s books which are Austen-inspired, but as they are so much shorter than the books I usually blog about I thought I’d put a post together featuring a few. If you’re interested in ones I’ve looked at previously you can see posts about a version of Pride & Prejudice for younger readers here, and a biography of Austen here. 

Cozy Classics My First Pride & Prejudice by Jack and Holman Wang
Firstly, Cozy Classics Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice by Jack & Holman Wang– this is a board book for babies featuring pictures of needle-felted characters with single words on each page. The characters are really SO cute – mostly inspired by Pride & Prejudice 2005 by the looks of them, although I’d say Elizabeth looks more like the 1995 or maybe even based on Jane Austen. I would recommend this as part of a baby gift to a parent who is a P&P fan. Five Stars

Five star read

Book Cover: Jane – My First Jane Austen from the Little People, Big Dreams series, by Maria Isabel Sánchez Vergara and illustrated by Katie Wilson
Another board book, Jane – My First Jane Austen from the Little People, Big Dreams series, by Maria Isabel Sánchez Vergara and illustrated by Katie Wilson – this board book has more text than the last. It tells a very simplified version of Austen’s life, saying that she was a girl who loved writing. The pictures are sweet and fairly simple in style. There are a whole range of these books so if there were other people who the parent admired (which range from people in history like Marie Curie and Frida Kahlo to modern people such as Dolly Parton and RuPaul, and also some sadder stories such as Anne Frank). This book is not as cute as the Cozy Classics one but it’s still a nice board book and I think would probably last a bit longer as it’s a bit more interesting.  I’d give this one 5 stars as well.

Five star read

Book cover: Clueless: A Totally Classic Picture Book, Adapted by G M Berrow and illustrated by Heather Burns
Clueless: A Totally Classic Picture Book, Adapted by G M Berrow and illustrated by Heather Burns – I wasn’t sure whether this was a children’s book or a very cute Clueless book, but it’s definitely aimed at young children whose parents are Clueless fans. The story is very much simplified, the characters are younger so there isn’t any romance, only friendships. Josh is missing entirely. The message of the book is that you should be free to like things you enjoy, not what your friends think you should like. I would say it’s aimed at children at the age of about 4+. One thing that’s really nice about this are the nods to the film Clueless, little turns of phrase etc. The pictures are adorable too. This is another one I’d recommend. 5 stars.

Five star read

Book cover: Library of Luminaries: Jane Austen, an Illustrated Biography by Zena Alkayat and Nina Cosford
Library of Luminaries: Jane Austen, an Illustrated Biography by Zena Alkayat and Nina Cosford – This is a short biography, with some pretty watercolour pictures, the style of which is indicated on the cover. It’s very much a ‘gift’ book rather than a book you’d read – it’s quite a chunky book but the words are quite spaced out, and interspersed with lots of pictures. The facts included are clearly and simply stated. There was the odd bit I didn’t agree with, such as the statement that Jane had fallen in love with Tom LeFroy, which I wouldn't say is  definitively known, and saying that she had grown up with six brothers which I feel is a little misleading when one of them didn’t live in the household. I’ve included this in the list for children, and it would be suitable for older children or as a gift for an adult. I don’t think it would hold interest for younger children. It’s not something I’d give as a gift though, it’s the type of thing you’d read once and never again. I’d rate it as 3½ stars.

3½ star read


Book cover: Brave Jane Austen by Lisa Pliscou
Brave Jane Austen by Lisa Pliscou, illustrated by Jen Corace – I’d previously read a biography of Jane Austen that Ms Pliscou wrote, which was aimed at older children. This is aimed at younger readers, say 6+. The facts of Jane’s life are gorgeously illustrated, and quite a bit of text is included. The facts are nicely explained, and there’s quite a bit of focus on what was expected of girls and women at the time, so there’s a bit of feminist perspective – not overdone, just highlighted so a young reader would notice. I felt like this book really paints a picture of Jane Austen’s life. At the end of the book Ms Pliscou has highlighted some of Austen’s quotes to further illustrate her character, plus there are sections on some of her famous admirers and where the reader can learn more. This is a lovely book, which I’d rate as 5 stars.

5 star read

Book Cover: Search and Find Pride & Prejudice, illustrated by Amanda Enright, retold by Sarah Powell
Search and Find Pride & Prejudice, illustrated by Amanda Enright, retold by Sarah Powell – this is a Where’s Wally/Where’s Waldo style book, based on Pride & Prejudice. The book begins with a quick 1 page biography of Austen’s life, followed by an introduction to Pride & Prejudice, written by Annalie Talent from the Jane Austen’s House Museum. There are numerous illustrated scenes in the book and for each there’s a list of characters to find, and pictures of each so you know what you are looking for. You can see the illustration style on the cover. In some of the more busy scenes it can be harder to tell, as there are other background characters that might look like the ones you are looking for. The scenes are not as detailed as a Where’s Wally, so they are quite a bit easier, but it’s a fun little puzzle book, and there are solutions at the back in case you can’t find any of them. There is a very simplified summary of events on each page, so at the Meryton Assembly Jane is asked to dance by Mr Bingley, Mr Bingley is enchanted by her beauty etc. I can see a child enjoying this for a bit while they find the people/items, and would rate it 4½ stars.

4½ star read

Note: I wondered why we would call the book
Where's Wally in the UK while I know it's Where's Waldo in the US so I had a little Google. I thought the US title had been renamed here but apparently it's the other way round. Wally used to be a relatively normal shortening of Walter here, years ago, but it also is a semi-affectionate insult for somebody silly or clumsy (as in "Oh, you wally, you've dropped it!") but apparently in the US the name was unheard of, so it got changed to Waldo.

Book cover: Lizzy Bennet's Diary by Marcia Williams
Lizzy Bennet’s Diary by Marcia Williams is a book which follows the course of events in Pride & Prejudice from Elizabeth’s perspective in a diary format. There are lots of pictures on each page, and I would say they are along the same lines as Janet Ahlberg’s drawings, if you are familiar with those. I would say that the reader would benefit from being familiar with the events of P&P. Although there are lots of illustrations there are also lots of words so I think it’s aimed at an older child. Things like letters sent between characters are in the book as little fold out letters with script on, which I thought were very cute and added an extra touch. This would have been a lovely read… except… at times it reads more like Lydia’s diary! Lizzy is portrayed as being too silly and more keen on Wickham than I think she was. So it loses a star from me for this characterisation, 4 star read.

4 star read

Book cover: Dress-Up Jane Austen by Catherine Bruzzone and Hennie Haworth
Last up we have a paper doll book, Dress-Up Jane Austen by Catherine Bruzzone and Hennie Haworth. I used to love paper dolls when I was little, many years ago. This book starts off with the history, including some different types of outfit that ladies and gentlemen would wear. There are two cut out dolls, which have a glossy side so you can just use the dolls straight away after cutting them out, and a matte side which would allow you to choose the dolls colouring, which I thought was a nice touch. There are 14 costumes, and there are outfits both for men and women. I’d have loved to have seen something from a different class, like servant’s clothes or perhaps something from a profession, like army or navy uniform etc., but this is a lovely book for children who would enjoy paper dolls and be careful enough not to break them! 4½ stars.

4½ star read

I hope you have enjoyed this post. My inner child enjoyed reading the books, anyway!

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  1. These are wonderful. Thank you for sharing!


  2. I have some on my wishlist but thank you for this post coz now i have the others as well

    1. Haha! This is the problem with these books, they are just so cute that they are worth having just to look at them!


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