As you all know I found out about the existence of this book a few weeks ago and was really taken with the concept. The authors and their publishers contacted me after reading my article, and very kindly sent the copy which I (rather reluctantly!) included in my Third Anniversary Giveaway last week.
Cozy-Classic’s Pride and Prejudice by Holman and Jack Wang
For those of you who may not be familiar with it, the book-a beautifully photographed board book- is a shortened version of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. It tells the story using key words and concepts from the novel, illustrated by photographs of felt figures acting out the episode. Obviously the book is intended for use by small children. As the adult reading the book with the child, you are expected to explain the pictures and ” fill in the blanks”. And of course these explanations can get more elaborate as the child grows in understanding….till eventually they will want to pick up a copy of Jane Austen’s own text.
The authors, Holman and Jack Wang explained their vision for this series of books in their email to me:
This is the concept for the series: to revitalize the infant word primer genre by avoiding the tired concepts of counting, animals, shapes, etc., and introducing the idea of narrative or story. Each book tells a beloved tale through 12 child-friendly words and 12 needle-felted illustrations. Of course, you are right that 12 words can only sketch out the most basic narrative arc. But as children grow, the books will hopefully become a storytelling vehicle that allows parents to spin a bedtime yarn with ever-increasing elaboration and detail (just like you have with the quotes from P&P in your blog post!). We think the concept and the artwork will not only appeal to children, but to adults as well.
Here are some examples from the book.
FirstFriends: showing Darcy and Bingley standing before the famous text of Jane Austen’s opening chapter:
Sisters: where we are introduced to Jane and Elizabeth Bennet:
and finally, Read: poor Elizabeth reading That Letter from Darcy:
I have to say I’m very taken with this idea. I loved reading to my children when they were small, and I know we would have enjoyed reading this book together. The illustrations are so enchanting, I find them irresistible. And they are a blessed relief from the growing trend for the use of computer generated graphics in children’s books, which I find so impersonal and well, cold. My daughter has suggested that there may even be a market for the beautifully crafted figures, and I agree with her. I have now ordered copies as Christmas gifts for all the small people in my life. They cannot be exposed to good literature soon enough, and this is a charmingly simple and easy way to do it.
If you would like to see more the Cozy Classics website is available to view here.