A MOST CLEVER GIRL: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice
GENRE: Picture Book / Biography / Children
PUBLISHER: Bloomsbury Children’s Books
RELEASE DATE: March 30. 2021
Witty and mischievous Jane Austen grew up in a house overflowing with words. As a young girl, she delighted in making her family laugh with tales that poked fun at the popular novels of her time, stories that featured fragile ladies and ridiculous plots. Before long, Jane was writing her own stories-uproariously funny ones, using all the details of her life in a country village as inspiration.
In times of joy, Jane’s words burst from her pen. But after facing sorrow and loss, she wondered if she’d ever write again. Jane realized her writing would not be truly her own until she found her unique voice. She didn’t know it then, but that voice would go on to capture readers’ hearts and minds for generations to come.
“Jane loved stories–long ones, short ones, worn and new.”
C.S. Lewis, in his essay On Three Ways of Writing for Children, said, “I am almost inclined to set it up as a canon that a children’s story which is enjoyed only by children is a bad children’s story. The good ones last.” A Most Clever Girl by Jasmine A. Stirling is a good children’s story! Children will love it for the beautiful & whimsical illustrations by Vesper Stamper and for the witty & relatable way in which Stirling’s prose brings Jane Austen to life. Adults will love it for the same reasons, as well as the clever touches that Stirling adds – such as peppering the text with direct phrases from Austen’s novels – and the tender glimpse we are given into a beloved author.
The focus of A Most Clever Girl is, as the subtitle suggests, on how Jane Austen discovered the writing voice that made her such a popular author in her time and continues to endear her to readers today. She always loved words – reading them and writing them – and while her witty take on popular ‘fluff’ literature of the day and her insightful observations into the people around her provided much fodder for her writing, there was -as Stirling points out – something missing. By following Austen’s journey from a young reader & writer to the more mature (but still young) author who finally discovers what was missing from her voice, we are given a fresh and tender take on Austen’s life. In that discovery is, for all of us, a gentle reminder that more often that not our deepest growth takes place in the shadows of our darkest times. And while we certainly don’t enjoy those painful moments we live through, the wisdom and compassion we gain during them are irreplaceable.
Bottom Line: A Most Clever Girl by Jasmine A. Stirling is a book that will delight and inspire young and not-as-young readers alike. Austen’s life is presented with smile-inducing illustrations that accompany the sweet text, both of which paint a beautiful picture of a beloved author with more to be seen beneath the surface (the author & the book) as further reflection allows. Highly recommended for little dreamers, kiddos going through tough situations, young aspiring authors, and any adult who loves Jane Austen (whether they know it yet or not).
(I voluntarily reviewed a copy of this book which I purchased for my own collection. My review is presented here in partnership with The Children’s Book Review and Jasmine A. Stirling. All views expressed are only my honest opinion.)
My Rating: 4.5 stars / loved it!
Jasmine A. Stirling is the debut author of A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice, a picture book biography of Jane Austen about persistence and creative mastery. Jasmine lives on a cheerful street in San Francisco with her husband, two daughters, and their dog. From a young age, she loved to write poems and stories and worked her way through nearly every children’s book (and quite a few for grownups, too) in her local library. When she’s not writing, Jasmine can be found hiking in the fog, singing songs from old musicals, and fiddling with her camera.
Jasmine first fell in love with Jane Austen as a student at Oxford, where she read her favorite of Jane’s six masterful novels, Persuasion. A Most Clever Girl is her dream project, done with her dream team—award-winning illustrator Vesper Stamper and Bloomsbury Children’s Publishing. Jasmine also has a YA/New Adult history of the women’s suffrage movement out soon, titled We Demand An Equal Voice.
Visit www.jasmineastirling.com to get a free Jane Austen paper doll kit with the purchase of A Most Clever Girl. While you’re there, enter to win a Regency tea party gift basket!
Follow Jasmine on Instagram and Facebook @jasmine.a.stirling.author where she posts about kidlit and life with two young girls.
Enter for a chance to win a glorious Jane Austen-themed picnic basket, including a hardcover copy of A Most Clever Girl autographed by Jasmine A. Stirling!
One (1) grand prize winner receives:
A picnic basket filled with:
A copy of A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice, signed by author Jasmine A. Stirling
A vintage teacup
1 oz of tea From Adagio Teas
Truffles from Moonstruck Chocolates
Gardenia hand cream
A set of Jane Austen playing cards
A $15 gift certificate to Jasmine A. Stirling’s Austenite Etsy Shop, Box Hill Goods
Two (2) winners receive:
The giveaway begins March 16, 2021, at 12:01 A.M. MT, and ends April 16, 2021, at 11:59 P.M. MT.
This giveaway is hosted by The Children’s Book Review, not RimSP
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What about you? What makes you want to read A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice by Jasmine A. Stirling?