Dickens: His Work and His World

This information book is a wonderful marriage of the skilful writing of Michael Rosen and the superb artwork of Robert Ingpen. It is an extremely evocative book, painting a vivid picture of Dickens’ life, his world and his work. Rosen’s detailed knowledge of the era is woven effortlessly into the tale of the fascinating literary giant, Charles Dickens.

The skilful simplicity of Rosen’s language and his light, conversational tone make this book particularly accessible. Frequent questions and asides establish an immediate rapport with the child reader and there is none of the pedantry associated with some information books. Rosen’s brief introduction to three novels and detailed analysis of Great Expectations, while being very masterly, may spoil some elements of plot for readers about to discover Dickens and the analysis is pitched at a level suited to a bookish child of 12 or more.

Ingpen’s artwork can only be described as stunning, particularly the sumptuous double-page spreads. each illustration is in itself a masterpiece and the familiar Dickensian world of swirling mists and shadowy landscapes is powerfully conjured. Yet, for me it was the portraits that stood out in their disarming realism. The inclusion of a task for the reader to guess the identity of characters from portraits in a double spread is ingenious and delightfully entertaining.

An excellent feature of this book is the inclusion of a detailed timeline with interesting snippets of information.

This book has something to offer readers of all ages.