Friday, December 31, 2010

2nd January Jean Little (1932)

Jean Little is a Canadian author. I first met her work while reading her novel Mama's Going to Buy You a Mockingbird. I enjoyed it so much I went looking for more of her books and then read her autobiography Little By Little and Stars Come Out Within and came to appreciate why she writes family stories and stories about fear and or disability so well. Jean Little is only partially sighted and suffered terribly at school, so she uses her real-life experiences in her books. Her characters often have physical disabilities disabilities or confront psychological difficulties. Most of her better known books are novels for older readers but she has done picture books. There are three picture books in the library. The Revenge of the Small Small is a family story where the youngest member of the family, Patsy, constantly feels unappreciated, but finally has her revenge. Jess Was the Brave One is also a family story where Claire the older of the siblings is scared of everything and cannot understand why her younger sister Jess is not. Both of these books are illustrated by Janet Wilson. A third, Once Upon a Golden Apple is a very funny fractured fairy tale where everything is wrong. For instance Goldilocks lives with the seven dwarves, the Wicked Witch of the West needs rescuing and princesses kiss dragons. This is very different from Jean's usual stories, maybe because she wrote it with her niece, Maggie deVries who also acted as her assistant for a while, but who is now an author in her own right. It is illustrated by the other Canadian stalwart Phoebe Gilman.

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