Tuesday, August 30, 2016

The Brilliant Brontës: Brontës for Kids & Teens

Anne Bronte (1820-1849), Emily Bronte (Thornton, 1818 - Haworth, 1848) and Charlotte Bronte (Thornton, 1816 - Haworth, 1855), English writers, Oil on canvas by Patrick Branwell Bronte (1817-1848), ca 1834. Photograph. Encyclopædia Britannica ImageQuest. Web. 19 Dec 2015.

You might be surprised to hear that there are Brontë-inspired books aimed at kids and teens. Not a huge amount, as you might imagine, since bleak moors and unrequited passion might be a slightly hard sell for the younger set, but there are a few available, and they are not all biographies of the sisters, though some of the fiction has a "based-on-a-true-story" slant.

We chose a young adult eBook, Worlds of Ink and Shadow by Lena Coakley, for our Brontë read this month., and we were not disappointed. From the very first page we were hooked! The story drops readers into the lives of  the Brontës themselves, albeit with a supernatural twist. This could have gone either way - sometimes real people presented fictionally feel stiff or one-dimensional - but Lena Coakley appears to have done her research, and, apart from perhaps slightly modern turn of phrase at times, she presents what could be an entertaining portrait of the Brontë siblings in their mid-to-late teens, including Branwell. They squabble, they are lectured by their father, they worry their Aunt, and they have a lot of angst about their childhood pact with a character called Old Tom, which allows them to slip between the real world and the imagined worlds of their writings.

This paranormal thread could have toppled a storyline that presents the Brontë family with warts-and-all realism - each sibling has a distinct and recognizable character, and even their somewhat claustrophobic existence in Haworth Parsonage is vividly drawn. But the fantastical element provides a glimpse of the fictional worlds of Glass Town and Gondal that draws the reader in, and drama to bring out the best and worst of the siblings and keep the reader spellbound.

We highly recommend Worlds of Ink and Shadow! Here are some other Brontë titles from the library catalog to introduce kids and teens to their world:


Jane, The Fox & Me by Fanny Britt [graphic novel]

The House of Dead Maids by Clare B. Dunkle [J Fiction]

Always Emily: A Novel of Intrigue and Romance by Michaela MacColl [YA eBook]

Catherine by April Lindner [YA eBook] 

A Family Called Brontë by Paula Guzzetti

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