I noticed A Boy Called Dickens by Deborah Hopkinson on an email sent to me by Bookpage for children’s books. I thought reading and reviewing this book would be another great way to celebrate Charles Dickens and his 200th birthday this month.
A Boy Called Dickens is a children’s picture book detailing the life of young Charles Dickens. Dickens has a hard life with his father going to Debtor’s prison while he was a boy. He was then forced to work in a shoe blacking factory in order to make money to support his family, who were also living in jail with his father. The worst thing to Dickens is the fact that he is unable to read his beloved books and attend school. He makes the most of his adversity and uses his imagination to create wonderful stories.
My boys loved A Boy Called Dickens. In fact NPR mentioned Dickens on the radio Wednesday and Kile (just turned six) piped up and said, “Dickens’ family was in jail and he worked in a factory. He grew up and wrote lots of books.” I was amazed and glad that he was retaining what we had read. He did pick the book to read each night last week so it must have intrigued him.
The boys really loved the artwork by John Hendrix, which goes perfectly with the story. Daniel is sure that one of the story creations of Dickens is a pirate from his hat and I went with it. They really like the beginning where the story asks where young Dickens is. They like to look at the picture and find him. They feel sad for him that he can’t go to school, but also think it is very cool that he is able to write his own stories and grows up to become a famous author. In other words, the boys found the story interesting, relatable, and educational. Or maybe I found it educational, and they just happened to learn from it! I liked how the tale ends happily and the note about Dickens’ life at the end.
As a child I LOVED biographies of famous people and learning about history. This love has served me well as I still remember a lot of my basic history as gleaned from those books. I am excited to find a great historical fiction author to share with my children. Deborah Hopkinson has written quite a few children’s historical fiction books. I need to find them to read to my children.
Overall, A Boy Called Dickens is a children’s historical fiction picture book that is sure to delight both children and adults.