Pride & Prejudice: A BabyLit Board Book (Little Miss Austen) Blog Tour with Jennifer Adams

Pride & Prejudice: BabyLit Boad Book, by Jennifer Adams (2011)Please join us today in welcoming author Jennifer Adams for the official launch of her book blog tour of Pride & Prejudice: A BabyLit Board Book (Little Miss Austen), a new children’s board book inspired by Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice that is releasing today by Gibbs Smith Publisher.

Hi Laurel Ann. Thanks for asking me to blog about my new book, Pride & Prejudice: A BabyLit Board Book.  The idea for doing a baby book on the classics came one day when I was talking to my editor, Suzanne Taylor, creative director for Gibbs Smith, Publisher. We were talking about mash-ups and different books and the funky things people do with the classics. Suzanne and I are both in the book industry and always looking for new, clever ideas. She knows I love the classics, and Jane Austen in particular, and the idea for Little Miss Austen just struck her, she says, “like lightning.”

I wrote many different versions of the manuscript before we settled on making this a counting primer. It is a lot more difficult than one might think to take the beloved novel and condense it into a mere twenty words! You’ve got to get the tone and flavor of the book, capture its essence, but also make it for babies and toddlers, which is a completely different audience of course. It looks deceptively simple when you see the finished book, but creating it is actually quite a complex project.

People have had strong opinions about this book and the BabyLit series, both adamantly for and against it. We’ve had complaints that you can’t possibly have Romeo and Juliet as a baby book, because it is so serious and ends badly. We ended our book with “parting is such sweet sorrow” and ten little bird “couples” kissing each other goodnight. A perfect ending for giving your baby ten kisses when you’re tucking her into bed! With Pride and Prejudice, one of our sales reps said that we should say “two men” not “two rich gentlemen” because gentlemen is a multisyllabic word and not appropriate for babies. But if you don’t say “rich gentlemen” you are losing everything about it that is Austen! One thing that came together really nicely with these books is that we were passionate about them and followed our vision. We didn’t let them get changed by committee or dumbed down. And the overwhelmingly positive response and sales indicate we did the right thing.

The illustrator for this book is central to its success. We’d been working with Alison Oliver of Sugar Design (pure-sugar.com) as a book designer on some other projects. We knew she did illustration as well, so Suzanne decided to give her a try. When the first sketches came in we were absolutely blown away! Alison has this perfect combination of sweetness and sophistication in her work and we knew we had hit it on the head with these illustrations. It didn’t hurt that she is a huge Jane Austen fan herself. When I saw the spread for 2 rich gentlemen with Mr. Darcy and Mr. Bingley I kind of went berserk I was so excited about it. Alison made me a print of that illustration and signed it. I framed it and have it hanging in my house. We’re actually looking at making a doll from that Mr. Darcy illustration, which I think would be incredibly fun as well.

I think the thing that makes me happiest about this project is sharing something I love so much—Jane Austen, Lizzy Bennet’s story, Mr. Darcy—in a whole new way to a whole new generation of readers. The idea that these books might help the little ones who read them grow up to love and read Jane Austen and have their lives enriched by her the way mine has been—well, it is very satisfying.

Author Jennifer Adams (2011)Author bio:

Jennifer Adams is the author of a dozen books including Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen and the newly released Little Miss Austen: Pride and Prejudice, part of the BabyLit series. Her book Little Master Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet, also a BabyLit book, has been nominated as one of Parents magazine’s best children’s books of 2011. Jennifer works as a senior editor at Gibbs Smith, Publisher, where she edits cookbooks, children’s books, architecture and interior design, and gift books. Her favorite place to travel is England and her favorite baby name is Fitzwilliam. Visit Jennifer at her website Word Musings, and on Twitter as @jengrillone.

Grand Giveaway of Pride & Prejudice:

A BabyLit Board Book (Little Miss Austen)

Enter a chance to win one of three copies of Pride & Prejudice: A BabyLit Board Book (Little Miss Austen) by leaving a comment answering what intrigues you most about introducing Jane Austen to toddlers or which character in the original novel is your favorite, by midnight PT, Wednesday, August 10th, 2011. Winners to be announced on Thursday, August 11th, 2010. Shipment to US and Canadian addresses only. Good luck!

Pride & Prejudice: A BabyLit Board Book (Little Miss Austen), by Jennifer Adams, illustrated by Allison Oliver
Gibbs Smith (2011)
Board book (22) pages
ISBN: 978-1423622024

© 2007 – 2011 Jennifer Adams, Austenprose

47 thoughts on “Pride & Prejudice: A BabyLit Board Book (Little Miss Austen) Blog Tour with Jennifer Adams

  1. There is something about this that just doesn’t feel right.
    It makes me think of the miniature football strips you can buy in sports shops to dress two year olds in.
    Who are these books really for? Why should children learning to read want to read a child’s version of a Jane Austen novel? They need to get to know all those nursery rhymes and stories that are there for their emotional and psychological development first, surely?
    This whole idea is a little disturbing.

    Like

    • A children’s version of a Clockwork Orange disturbing? Yes. A children’s version of P&P disturbing? That I don’t get…can you explain what you find disturbing about a P&P themed board book? That’s a rather heavy word to use in this context.

      Like

    • In some ways I suppose it is like the mini football outfits, but I’m not sure what is wrong with that. Generally speaking, anything that is purchased for a 2 year old is done so because the parent likes it. Also generally speaking, a child who is of the age to play with a board book is not actively learning to read the way that an older child is.

      However, your comment about nursery rhymes and stories makes me wonder if you are being sarcastic–if you are not, please read some of Mother Goose’s Nursery Rhymes. There’s a lot in there that is more than a little disturbing to my modern sensibilities. :D

      Like

  2. This sort of abridgement of an adult book to child level is going to make people LESS likely to read Austen. A girl who has read the child version won’t want to read the real book in high school or college because she’ll feel that she’s already read it. Why bother with a longer version–even if it is the original–when she knows the basic plot?

    I agree with Tony Grant. Who are these books for? As primers, they fail; there is not much excitement in Austen to attract a five- or six-year-old, and much of the plot–such as Lydia being ruined if Wickham doesn’t marry her, a concept I’d think well beyond the mind and experience of most modern small children–doesn’t seem as if it would translate well into Dick-and-Jane language.

    Can we not just let children be children for a while, and let the comedies of manners wait until they are old enough to appreciate them?

    Like

  3. I love this idea! I’m a new mom, and am staying at home with my daughter. I’ll often put on the 1995 P&P for something to keep my mind occupied while doing chores, so she knows it’s something Mommy enjoys. Having a version just for her would be great, since little ones always love to copy their parents!

    Like

  4. I love the idea of exposing great literature, albeit in a counting primer, to my toddler. He loves books, especially counting and letter books, so this will be fun to try. Just a perfect choice for my future Mr. Darcy! :-)

    Like

  5. I love that you didn’t let them get “dumbed down”–there’s no reason why you can’t use a word like gentlemen in a book geared for a toddler. I’m not suggesting that truly obscure words would be appropriate, but it’s not a reader. I really like the cover art. :)

    My favorite character in the original is Lizzy, even though she aggravates me sometimes. :)

    Like

  6. Love the idea!! Plus it is a bit different kids book. I did not discover Jane Austen until I was in my early 20s, so I have never been sure what it a good age for an Austen intro… something I’ve wondered about even though my daughter, Elizabeth, is only 3. Yes, Lizzy is my favorite P&P character, and is a big part of the reason why I named my daughter Elizabeth.

    Like

  7. I happen to think this a great idea. It’s a gray way to introduce the story to judases a young age. Anything that encourages kids to read is a plus in my book. Maybe if reading this at a young age will encourage them to read it when they are older.

    Like

  8. No I wasn’t being sarcastic, Amy. The horror and underlying nastiness in many nursery stories is there for a reason. Through these stories childrens developing imaginations learn to deal with issues that are important in later life.
    That’s the whole point of nursery stories.If we didn’t have nursery stories the realities of life would be much harder to deal with when we get older. Some might not be able to cope at all without the learning about and engaging with the horrors of life that go in these stories.
    Anyway, getting back to a children’s version of Jane Austen. Yes you are right. I think these are just for the parents.

    Like

    • I can assure readers that there is no horror from “underlying nastiness” from the text of this charming book. It is a counting primer — like the one two buckle my shoe nursery rhymes. It is not a retelling of Pride and Prejudice, so a child would not think that they have read P&P already and not want to read it later in their life. It uses characters and Regency images to teach a child to count. Of course only the parent would know the relevance of Darcy & Bingley as the two gentlemen of large fortune mentioned, but that would apply to anything used. In my opinion, exposing a child to characters and images from literature plants the seeds for later learning. It has been designed and written with respect to the author and her characters.

      Like

  9. As a Grandfather to 6 children ranging in age from 11 down to 2, I’m curious, yet puzzled. So, if I have this partially correct, the Little Miss Austen Pride and Prejudice is a counting primer for pre-school youngsters with a motif featuring that famed novel? If I’m even in the ballpark for being correct, what would be more appropriate than own Jane Austen for decency? Finally, Jennifer Adams, I just love your photo here at Austenprose because behind your whimsical facial expression I sense that little girl still inside you that is full of mischief and identifies with children! How appropriate considering the target audience.

    Like

  10. I agree any book that encourages a child to read is a good book! And a children’s counting book with regency images? What a fresh, new idea! The images used in such a teaching tool won’t be the same old pictures used in every book (a is for apple, z is for zebra). And the bonus is the introduction of our little friends to the concept, if not the stories, of Jane Austen. Bravo!

    Like

  11. I love the idea of this book! Being a huge Jane Austen fan, I have two little readers at home who have heard a lot about her and the books I adore. I would LOVE to give them this book to read and enjoy! My favorite character in P&P is Elizabeth, which also happens to be my older daughters middle name and my youngest daughter is named Emma!!

    Like

  12. I just acquired a grand daughter, now age 2 weeks. I will buy this book for her right away and maybe her 3 yr old brother will enjoy it too. Great idea.

    Like

  13. I also read to my grandkids daily. Why not make it enjoyable for both of us? And after reading the description of what it encompasses it just sounds cute – not a pride and prejudice training course for 2 year olds…smiles.

    Like

  14. Ooh my 2 year old niece loves pretty dresses and her parents are getting married so she’ll understand the concept of a wedding and marriage soon. I think she’d at least like the pictures. My sister hates history and the idea of Jane Austen without knowing much about her novels. I think this baby book would be a good way to introduce her AND her daughter to Regency life and Jane Austen. (I refuse to buy anything Jane Austen with vampires or zombies in it despite the fact that my sister loves that stuff)

    Like

  15. I like the idea of presenting the story in a counting format. Definitely something little kids can learn from. My favorite character from P&P is Elizabeth Bennett.

    Like

  16. Love the idea of a counting Jane Austen board book! Brilliant, and this would be a perfect gift for my little nieces. You can never start literature too young, and it doesn’t get any better than Jane!

    Like

  17. What a great way to introduce one’s children to Jane! I am sure there are plenty of teenagers who grumble when they have to read “this boring classic that has nothing to do with today.” However, if their parents introduced them to it at a yound age and sparked an interest, maybe they would actually give the novel a try and find that they actually do like it! :)

    Like

  18. So all you mums, aunts and grandmothers are taken with this idea of a Jane Austen based counting book. By the way, where is the evidence that introducing very young children, to the idea at east, of Jane Austen is going to influence them in their reading habits later in life? I think there is a lot of hope here and nothing more. Children need to find something that gets them involved in reading for them selves and that will come from what they want,from the world they live in, not what others want. It’s very very hard to get children away from television and especially computer screens as it is. Pinning your hopes on some sweet pictures of of Elizabeth Bennet and Mr Darcy isn’t an answer. It’s not that simple.

    Like

  19. As a mom of a 2.5 year old and another on the way, I told my daughter the story of P&P in my arms in the hospital when she was less than 24 hours old. :) I am determined to make an Austen fan out of my two darlings….without, of course, pushing it down their proverbial throats. This book sounds cute and a fun way to introduce some Austen without them knowing it.

    Like

  20. I wish this book was around when my daughter was little! I think this is a great idea, especially for Austen fans who want to introduce their daughters to P&P at a young age. And at the very least, it makes reading to their children more fun. ;)

    Like

  21. As a librarian and Janeite I’m puzzled how the story works as a board book. I am puzzled but yet desperately want the book also. :)

    Like

  22. I think it’s a fabulous idea. It doesn’t hurt babies to be exposed to different types of language, and heaven forbid we purge the word ‘gentleman’ from a child’s language. That’s the very thing that makes imaginations soar. As a child I knew without a doubt that Cinderella grew up in a CHATEAU, though I really didn’t know what it meant other than a fancy house. I want that book for the nieces and nephews who come to visit, and maybe someday it will be my granddaughters first book. There’s always room for new stories along with the nursery rhymes!
    As far as a favorite character goes, As much as I love Elizabeth, Mr Bennet charms the socks off of me. I love every word he says. He may be a bit lazy but his wit is fabulous and I remember reading that Jane Austen’s family members said her sense of humor was along the lines of Mr. Bennet’s. He makes me feel close to Jane.

    Like

  23. I love it! I have three children, ages 5 through 9 months. As I have a great love for Austen, I had been pondering when to start introducing them to one of my favorite authors. I like the idea of having a nursery rhyme book with P&P inspiration. It will give me at least something to smile about when I read it to my kids.

    Like

  24. I believe this is a great way to make classic literature familiar to young children. When they’re assigned these works in high school in college, or make their reading choices on their own, they may think fondly of these books from their childhood and be more receptive to the originals.

    Like

  25. I love Jane Austen books! I have since I first read Pride and Prejudice in high school. I want my daughter to have that same love and appreciation for Austen. This book is a great way to introduce her to something I love!

    Like

  26. I am so excited to find out about this book! As a literature/reading enthusiast, and being an aunt to 11 nieces and nephews, I think that introducing little ones to Jane Austen (or any great author, really) early is a fantastic way to promote interest in reading the classics. Plus, a Jane Austen counting book? How cute is that?

    Like

  27. I work in youth services at the library and board books are super popular. We have so many young moms here that I’ve discussed the fabulous works of Miss Austen with and I can’t wait to show them a book that will be a favorite for them AND their baby! Think of all the young Janeites that will be able to say that the first book they “read” was Pride & Prejudice! It makes me giddy. :)

    Like

  28. Wow, what an adorable idea! My two year old is named after Lizzy Bennet, so it’s pretty safe to say that she’s my favorite character. I love the idea of P&P in board book form! “Two rich gentlemen”–what a hoot. I would love to win this for my little girls–at 2 years old and 3 months old, board books, not novels, are what we’re reading together. So please enter me! As I’m typing, I’m thinking of all my other Austen-loving mom friends who will be getting this from me for Christmas this year.=)

    Like

  29. Wow, I absolutely love this idea! I will definitely read it to any future little ones I may have…and until then, I’ll read it myself! I love Elizabeth!!!

    Like

  30. That is the cutest little book! I looked at your review post and saw the illustrations. I don’t have any babies in my life, so I hate to take a chance of winning away from a mom with littler ones, but if I have a chance to give a baby gift some time down the road, you can bet I’ll remember this book.

    Like

  31. I think that it’s never too early to introduce great literature to children. I’ve got my 7-year-old granddaughter visiting me (her first time away from her mom), and I couldn’t get her interested in anything but some Pokemon book at the library! My son has a lot to answer for!

    Like

  32. As a huge Jane Austen fan, I love the idea of this book for my daughter (or son). It is a great way to introduce her/him to these novels and further drive a love for reading (which their parents already have).

    In fact, I gave my daughter the name of my favorite Austen character – Elizabeth. At 10 months old, I think she will love this for her upcoming first birthday.

    Like

  33. What a great way to introduce Jane Austen to my twin two year old daughters. I am amused though, at how this topic has inspired debate on here. Isn’t reading, in general, a good idea for children?

    Like

  34. I love Austen, and I love babies and I’m curious to see these. At least they are designed as board books and not just miniaturized picture books. It’s a clever way to hook into a hot Austen market, but I’ll reserve judgement on their merit until I see them!

    Like

  35. every little girl needs to be introduced to Mr Darcy!!! Would love this for my baby girl – but they need to get some Bronte board books too – her namesake!

    Like

  36. Pingback: Giveaway Winners Announced for Pride & Prejudice: A BabyLit Board Book (Little Miss Austen) « Austenprose – A Jane Austen Blog

  37. Pingback: Melanie's Musings :: One Girls Thoughts on (Mostly) Books

Comments are closed.