Reviews for Charlotte Bronte and Jane Eyre


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 January 1998
Gr. 5^-8. For those who have yet to read Jane Eyre, this book will spoil the classic novel, because Ross provides a detailed summary of the story and gives away all the surprises and secrets. However, for those who love the novel and want to know more about the author, this picture-book biography fills in fascinating background about the woman, her work, her family, her place, and her times. Ross does a great job of showing the parallels between Charlotte's life and her story: how her misery at school became a model for the Lowood episodes in the novel; how she wrote from the heart, knowing only too well what it was like to be a "disconnected, poor, and plain" governess. He is also careful not to be sentimental, speaking with candor about her bossiness and snobbery as well as her courage and brilliance. Some of Robert Van Nutt's illustrations are too glamorized--there is little sign of the plain, awkward outsider--but Van Nutt does show the intense childhood in the isolated Haworth parsonage, and some of the portraits evoke Branwell Bronte's famous painting of his sisters. ((Reviewed January 1 & 15, 1998)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

----------------------
Horn Book Guide Reviews 1998
A simple, thorough introduction to the life of Charlotte Brontd aims to entice young readers to read her famous novel. Ross traces the events of her life and their influences on her writing and includes short sections on the time period and the emergence of the novel as a literary form. Although the text is solid, the picture-book format and the dark, clumsy illustrations will be unlikely to attract children ready to undertake such ambitious reading. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

----------------------
Publishers Weekly Reviews 1997 November #1
This text-laden picture-book biography highlights the autobiographical elements in Jane Eyre, the classic English novel. Brontë, contends Ross (Shakespeare and Macbeth), used her traumatic memories of boarding school, her experience as a governess, an unwanted marriage proposal and her failed romance with the married Monsieur Heger as material. Ross often employs the questionable technique of quoting from fiction to illustrate biography: "When Jane Eyre decides to leave Lowood School and become a governess, she calls it moving to `a new servitude.' This was precisely how Charlotte found her change of situation [becoming a governess]." He also gives a complete, chapter-long summary of Jane Eyre, which may frustrate readers who have yet to discover it for themselves. Van Nutt (The Firebird) bases his images of Charlotte and her sisters on Branwell Brontë's famous painting, and his palette stays with the brown, beige and olive colors that convey the somberness of the times. His scenes from Jane Eyre are infused with appropriately dark, emotional drama. Boxed sidebars explain aspects of Victorian life, and a short afterword discusses Elizabeth Gaskell's famous biography. A bibliography and chronology are provided for reference. Despite its faults, the book is thorough and provocative, making it a strong choice for classroom use. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews

----------------------
School Library Journal Reviews 1998 January
Gr 4-6?Attractively designed and featuring full-page, colorful illustrations, this is a well-written biography. The audience for it, however, is a bit unclear. Although Ross claims that the book is for those who have read Jane Eyre and want to know more about its author, as well as for those who had found the classic intimidating and might be inspired to try again, it's unlikely that those readers would find a picture-book format (albeit an elegant one) satisfying. Nevertheless, those who are familiar with the movie or have an interest in literature, writers, or women's biographies will find the book worthwhile. It traces Charlotte's early life, her intense relationship with her siblings, her brief but brilliant writing career, and the tragic early deaths of all of the Bronte children. A chronology and further reading list is supplied, as is background information about the era. There is no index. A full chapter is devoted to a description of Jane Eyre, and an afterword traces the history of the novel. The stylized illustrations add a period flavor. This book is more informative than Catherine Brighton's The Brontes (Chronicle, 1994), and more focused on Charlotte than Paula Guzzetti's A Family Called Bronte (Dillon, 1994), which is for slightly older readers. Michael Bedard's picture book, Glass Town (Atheneum, 1997), has a broader focus. Ross's book is a useful purchase for most collections.?Cyrisse Jaffee, formerly at Newton Public Schools, MA

----------------------