The Usborne Complete Dickens By Anna Milbourne and Maria Surducan: is a captivating celebration of both the man and his work for a new generation of readers - book review -

The Usborne Complete Dickens
The Usborne Complete Dickens

It’s never too early to introduce children to the extraordinary stories and amazing characters who have helped to make Charles Dickens one of England’s greatest ever novelists.

It’s never too early to introduce children to the extraordinary stories and amazing characters who have helped to make Charles Dickens one of England’s greatest ever novelists.

Names like Ebenezer Scrooge, Oliver Twist, the Artful Dodger, David Copperfield and Miss Havisham are famous throughout the world and spring to glorious life thanks to the author’s vivid and richly detailed descriptions. These iconic fictional characters have been recreated so often on television, in films, on stage and in print that they seem almost real.

And now Usborne, the UK’s leading specialist children’s book publisher, has put together this spectacular, illustrated complete works of Dickens, all skilfully and entertainingly retold for youngsters aged eight and above.

The retellings, authored and edited by Anna Milbourne, simplify the novels for a young audience, with memorable quotations from the original text throughout, and without losing the endearing charm, dynamism and integrity of Dickens’ unique writing. And alongside is a gallery of wonderful illustrations by Maria Surducan which display the leading characters and some atmospheric scenes from the books.

Dickens’ life from his birth in 1812 as the second of eight children born to a Navy Pay Office clerk in Portsmouth, and the family’s own hard times when Mr Dickens senior was sent to a debtors’ prison, right through to his career as first a shoe blacking boy, then success as a newspaper sketch writer and later world famous author, provided the inspiration for his remarkable novels.

Many of the events and characters in the book are based on his own experiences and the people around him, all factors that enabled Dickens to feel passionately about the poor and neglected in society at a time when Britain was growing rich from thriving textile and steel factories.

This beautifully illustrated collection contains all of Dickens’ novels, including Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, A Tale of Two Cities and A Christmas Carol. From innocent orphan Oliver and the cheeky Artful Dodger, to the bizarre and bitter jilted bride Miss Havisham and the old miser, Ebenezer Scrooge, the people created by Dickens will delight young readers.

And there are notes on the characters and quotations from the original text, plus links to websites to find out more about Charles Dickens’ remarkable life and times, including the places where he lived and worked.

These brilliant, accessible and thrilling illustrated adaptations of all the master storyteller’s books are the perfect introduction to England’s greatest ever novelist. Published in a glossy format with a sturdy hardback cover and a ribbon marker, the book is produced to the high standard that this timeless classic deserves.

Brimming with the spirit of Dickens, the suspense, excitement and pathos of his stories, and the unforgettable characters who have become literary icons, The Complete Usborne Dickens is a captivating celebration of both the man and his work for a new generation of readers.

(Usborne, hardback, £17.99)