Reviews for Glass Town


Booklist Monthly Selections - #1 August 1997
Gr. 3^-5, younger for reading aloud. It's difficult to know where to place this, even in the category of picture book for older children. Most young readers will not be familiar with the works of the Brontes, but their "secret" writing lives, which produced 100 miniature books and magazines as well as the creation of a private world, have intrinsic childhood appeal. Bedard tries to play to this strength and often succeeds. Yet throughout, there are inferences that will be way over the heads of the audience. For instance, Charlotte, the narrator, discusses the children's reading material: "The works of Walter Scott, for novels, for poets, Milton, Cowper, Southey, and the great Lord Bryon." The writing style, too, can be lofty, self-conscious, even, in its descriptive passages. And with children unable to make a link to the adult writings of the Brontesisters, the book seems as isolated in its foundation as a house on the moors. The pictures, interestingly executed in a style that is almost photo-realist, will hold readers' attention, particularly the depictions of the imaginary crystalline Glass City, especially in juxtaposition to the picture of dark, windswept moor life. This is a lovely piece of bookmaking, but it will take an inventive adult to find a useful way to bring it into the reading lives of children. ((Reviewed Aug. 1997)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Horn Book Guide Reviews 1998
Striking oil paintings depict the wide English moors where the four Brontd children grew up, as well as scenes from their secret, imaginative world of Glass Town. Narrated by Charlotte, the fictionalized text describes each of the Brontd children, the toy soldiers that inspired their fantasy life, and their austere, studious lifestyle. Although presented in a picture-book format, the lengthy and sophisticated text is most appropriate for middle-grade readers. Copyright 1998 Horn Book Guide Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1997 August #1
It's a daunting task to write as Charlotte Brontë, but Bedard (Emily) carries off "the voice of a woman of passion and fire and fierce independence of spirit" quite confidently. He recounts the compelling childhood of Jane Eyre's author and her remarkable siblings in copious text, centering on an ordinary day at the Brontë home in Haworth. Charlotte emphasizes the rhythms of life in mid-19th century England: her Methodist aunt's "faith is cheerless, full of dread and fear" as she sets them to their lessons among them "...a spelling list, a piece of scripture to be had by heart. Our hearts lay elsewhere." Indeed, the hearts of Charlotte, Anne, Emily and Branwell dwell in their imaginary world of Glass Town, a fantasy that permeates their household chores and moorland strolls. In full-bleed, realistic seascapes, the husband-and-wife team of Jacobson and Fernandez (Tchaikovsky Discovers America) give life to "the mighty towers of Glass Town rising from the plain...." By contrast, the siblings' daily lives are marked by looming portraits in sepia tones (their preacher father winds the clock, the shadow of his arm casting a long, finger-like shadow; Aunt sits with eyes askance and "threads her needle's narrow eye with skill"). Although children may wish to see more of the fantasy Glass Town, they'll be inspired by the heights to which the Brontës' imaginations took flight as well as the comfort they found there. Ages 7-12. (Sept.) Copyright 1998 Publishers Weekly Reviews

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School Library Journal Reviews 1997 October
In Emily (Doubleday, 1992), Bedard explored the fertile ground that a life of seclusion provided for the imagination of a 19th-century American poet. Here, he crosses the ocean to Victorian England and creates a story to celebrate the unusual childhoods of that venerated trio of writers Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë (and their brother, Branwell). A foreword reveals that, following Charlotte's death, over 100 miniature books and magazines were discovered, handwritten in tiny print by the foursome. From childhood through adulthood, they had the majestic "Glass Town." Bedard's story is narrated by Charlotte, whose telling fades in and out of reality, thus offering both a slice of the family's eccentric life in the English parsonage and the fantasy world to which the children frequently fled. The single- and double-page oil paintings contrast the dark, humorless world of their strict father and spinster aunt with the highly romanticized views of raging seas and windswept moors of their imaginations. Many of the landscapes depict a low horizon with dramatic, ever-changing skies and vast expanses dwarfing the buildings. The language is carefully chosen, in a style consistent with that of young writers honing their skills: "We woke a world, a world within.... We dip our pens in dream." With its foreboding aura and relatively unknown subject (most elementary children haven't read the Brontës), this book will have to find its audience: other introspective children, budding authors, those who dwell in their own interior worlds. But they will find it to be well worth the effort. Wendy Lukehart, Dauphin County Library, Harrisburg, PA Copyright 1998 School Library Journal Reviews

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