Hello to all! I am delighted to introduce you to Deborah Hopkinson, author and speaker. She has just published and tomorrow it will be available: Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen, a book about Jane Austen’s life illustrated by Qin Leng and aimed for children.
Deborah Hopkinson is the author of 50 books for young readers including picture books, middle grade fiction, and nonfiction. At schools and conferences she helps bring history and research alive.
Deborah received a B.A. in English from the University of Massachusetts and an M.A. in Asian Studies from the University of Hawaii at Manoa. She lives near Portland, OR. Her husband, Andy, is a winemaker and artist; her son, Dimitri, is a photographer and landscaper; her daughter, Rebekah, is a teacher and chalk artist, and her grandson, Oliver, is an extraordinary one year old! And her two research assistants are Brooklyn and Rue (her dogs)!
I have been lucky enough to read Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen and really like the easiness to explain so many things about Jane Austen in a picture book. The designs are delightful as well, the colours very beautiful indeed.
Moreover, I got to interview Deborah and I have also asked her about JAFF. Read below and if you have any other questions for her, leave them on the comments. Thank you, Deborah for being so nice.
When did you discover Jane Austen?
It’s hard to remember when I first read Pride and Prejudice, but I think I was only twelve or thirteen. I recall having old, battered paperback editions on my bookshelf in high school.
Why did you choose her life for this book aimed to children?
While Jane Austen may not be an obvious subject for a picture book, there are many aspects of her life and work that I think can be appealing to kids. While we live in a celebrity culture, Austen first published her works anonymously. She lived an ordinary life which was centered around her family. For students, Jane is a great role model. She began writing at a young age and also spent a lot of time revising her writing.
I think it’s also helpful for students to be exposed to major figures of the past. And the back matter of our book includes the titles of Jane’s novels and a bit about them.
What is the most interesting aspect of Jane Austen’s life for you and why?
The more I learned of Austen’s life and approach to her work, the more impressed I am with her genius. It’s quite incredible to think that her novels, penned two hundred years ago in an entirely different time, are still so fresh, witty, and pertinent today. I am also amazed at her craft. As someone who makes full use of features like “cut and paste,” it’s mind-boggling to think of what it took to create her polished works.
Jane Austen has several well-known novels that you explain concisely in Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen, which one is your favourite if you could only read one of them for the rest of your life?
While I love all the Austen novels, my top three favourites are Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Sense and Sensibility. And if I have to choose just one, I guess it would have to be Pride and Prejudice.
A lot of the readers of my blog love Jane Austen Fan Fiction, have you thought on doing a variation or retelling of Jane Austen’s books for young people?
There are so many fun variations of Austen, both in novels and film. My favorite variation is a literary novel by Jo Baker entitled Longbourn. Highly recommended! I don’t know that I would do a Young Adult retelling, but I do admit that I’m drawn to this period.
You have other books about other authors, anyone else in mind?
Ordinary, Extraordinary Jane Austen is nonfiction, but I have also written a historical fiction picture book about Charles Dickens entitled A Boy Called Dickens. I’ve made attempts at writing about other authors, including Charlotte Bronte or Lady Murasaki, the Japanese noblewoman who wrote one of the first (if not the first) novels in the world, but haven’t been successful. As I tell students at author visits, even published writers get rejections. (At least I do!)
Have you ever thought on writing about other artists, for instance Picasso, Leonardo Da Vinci or Frida Kahlo among others?
Well, I just bought my husband the fabulous new biography of Da Vinci by Walter Isaacson, and I am next to read it, so you never know!
Thanks again to Deborah Hopkinson for appearing. For other stops on the Jane Austen Blog Tour please check deborahhopkinson.com. Be sure to use this hashtag: #JaneAustenBlogTour.
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