The Brontës: Children of the Moors by Mick Manning and Brita Granström

My soul is awakened, my spirit is soaring
     And carried aloft on the winds of the breeze;
For above and around me the wild wind is roaring,
     Arousing to rapture the earth and the seas.

” Lines Composed in a Wood on a Windy Day ” by Anne Brontë

Information

Goodreads: The Brontes: Children of the Moors
Series: None
Source: Library
Published: 2016

Summary

This picture book biography tells the story of Charlotte, Emily, and Anne Brontë’s lives from the perspective of Charlotte.

Star Divider

Review

Like many works focused on the Brontë siblings, this one is told from the perspective of Charlotte, who lived longest and thus not only published more, but was also able to influence her sisters’ reputations after their deaths. Additionally, she left behind a wealth of letters and diaries, allowing biographers to quote her directly. Attempts to uncover Anne’s interior life necessitate more conjecture. Even so, the work is a beautiful introduction to the lives and work of the Brontës, combining quotes, images, and biography to tell their story in an engrossing manner.

The format of The Brontës: Children of the Moors may aptly be described as busy. Each spread typically includes a two-page illustration (drawn on site, according to the end notes), along with a quote by Charlotte in one corner and more text expanding on Charlotte’s words in another. The result is that sometimes the text can seem repetitive; readers read again what Charlotte just said, but in more detail. Or it can seem hard to follow. Should one begin with Charlotte’s words, with the picture, perhaps with a side panel showcasing the flora or fauna of the moors? However, I think young readers will delight in the busyness, in always finding something new to find on the page, in having to work to put together text, quote, and image. It makes the reading experience feel, somehow, more active, more participatory.

Being written for children, the text does smoothly gloss over moments like Branwell’s adulterous relationship with his employer’s wife and his descent into addiction, as well as Charlotte’s unrequited love for her Belgian professor. Sometimes the moments are made to sound more tame (ex. Branwell “flirted”). Sometimes they are mentioned, but not really elaborated upon. Ultimately, the biography comes across as truthful, but age-appropriate.

The Brontës: Children of the Moors is a wonderful introduction to the life and work of the Brontë siblings. It packs a lot of information into a small amount of space, resulting in that rare picture book biography that feels complete, but also supremely readable. Definitely worth a look for any Brontë fans.

4 stars

2 thoughts on “The Brontës: Children of the Moors by Mick Manning and Brita Granström

  1. Jackie B @ Death by Tsundoku says:

    How cute! I can understand how the busyness would be distracting to an adult. What is the intended age range for this picture book? I wonder if this is picked up at random by curious children at the library, or if mothers who wish to influence their children to one day read the Brontë’s work might be checking it out instead. One can only speculate.

    Like

    • Krysta says:

      I’m not sure what the intended age range is, but I imagine 9+. I think picture books like this are difficult because they are more suitable for an elementary school audience, but parents of elementary school children don’t look at picture books, generally. So this would have to be in a classroom library, I think.

      Liked by 1 person

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