Sense & Sensibility: Little Miss Austen (BabyLit), by Jennifer Adams – A Review

Sense and Sensibility Babylit Primer by Jennifer Adams 2013 x 250Board books are a brilliant concept. A child’s first book-sized for their little hands printed on cardboard pages that are practically un-rippable, and, it doubles as a teething ring for toddlers. Add to that a Jane Austen theme and you are on your way to creating the next literati in the world.

In 2011, Jennifer Adams introduced us to Pride & Prejudice BabyLit, her first Little Miss Austen board book. It was a big hit. She has now created a cottage industry out of board books inspired by classic literature for very young readers including Jane Eyre, Moby Dick, The Hounds of Baskerville to name a few! Each one is exquisitely illustrated by Allison Oliver and handsomely published by Gibbs Smith, who excel at gift books and illustrated editions.

Sense & Sensibility: Little Miss Austen (BabyLit) is a beautiful package with a clever theme. On the front cover, we find the image of Jane Austen’s two heroines Marianne and Elinor Dashwood. Anyone who has read the original book, or seen any of the popular movie adaptations, will recognize the two divergent sisters and understand the irony that they have been chosen to represent an opposites primer. The fact that Marianne is impulsive and overly-romantic and Elinor stoic and even-tempered will matter not to toddlers or kindergartners. It is the adult that is buying the book. They will connect with the association and want to teach their child about it too. After all, you can never start too early with the education of Janeites.

SandS Little Miss Austen image 2 x 200 SandS Little Miss Austen image 1 x 200

The book has eleven illustrations of opposites helping the child learn the differences between big Norland Park and little Barton Cottage, happy Mr. Willoughby and sad Colonel Brandon and single Marianne and Elinor and then married, symbolically standing on top of their own wedding cakes with their bridegrooms by their side. While the choices in Sense & Sensibility do not relate to the story as directly as they did in the Pride & Prejudice BabyLit counting primer, I still found the illustrations charming and the concept interesting and creative. Continue reading

So Jane: Crafts and Recipes for an Austen-Inspired Life, by Hollie Keith and Jennifer Adams – A Review

So Jane Crafts and Recipes from a Jane Austen Inspired Life, by Hollie Keith and Jennifer Adams (2014)From the desk of Lisa Galek:

If you’re like most Janeites, it’s never enough just to read Austen’s novels. You want to live in them, too. That means decorating your house with Austenesque items, baking Regency era goodies, and throwing fabulous book-based soirees. So Jane: Crafts and Recipes for an Austen-Inspired Life by Jennifer Adams and Hollie Keith is the perfect book for bringing your Austen obsession to life in your very own home.

So Jane is an extensive collection of recipes and craft projects inspired by the works and life of Jane Austen. Organized into six chapters—one for each of Austen’s major novels—the book is filled with well over 100 pages of ideas for Austenesque décor, gifts, crafts, and entertaining. There’s Breakfast in Bath (Northanger Abbey), Tea with the Middletons (Sense and Sensibility), Dinner at the Great House (Persuasion), Emma’s Picnic (Emma), A Rustic Dinner (Mansfield Park), and Netherfield Ball (Pride and Prejudice). Each chapter features a full menu and six adorable craft projects inspired by that novel and its characters.

This book is billed as a way to “help you bring all things Austen into your home in a contemporary way” and it completely succeeds. With pages and pages of gorgeous full-color photographs that really bring to life the look and taste of each section, you’ll find tons of Austenesque ideas that you’ll be dying to create. The instructions and steps are very easy to follow. The layout of the book is simple, too—just choose an entire menu or book theme and go from there. If you want to get a little more creative, you can branch out and mix and match ideas from different sections or adjust the projects and recipes for your skill level. The ideas are so creative and inspirational that the possibilities are endless.

Of course, if you’re looking for items and foods that are totally authentic to Regency England this book doesn’t promise that. This is truly Jane-inspired with a modern twist. The authors have actually done a great job using the Regency era as a jumping-off point while picking colors, materials, and ingredients that are more appealing to our contemporary tastes. For example, the recipe for Hot Spiced Cocoa notes that early 19th-century cocoa would have been flavored with chilies, which not many modern folks would enjoy. With a slight adjustment in flavors, you have a treat that your guests will love rather than something authentic that doesn’t taste as delicious. Continue reading

Giveaway Winners Announced for Pride & Prejudice: A BabyLit Board Book (Little Miss Austen)

Pride & Prejudice: BabyLit Boad Book (Little Miss Austen), by Jennifer Adams and Allison Oliver (2011)45 of you left comments qualifying you for a chance to win one of three copies of Pride & Prejudice: A BabyLit Board Book (Little Miss Austen), by Jennifer Adams and Allison Oliver. The winners drawn at random are:

  • Courtney F. who left a comment on August 1st
  • QNPoohbear who left a comment on August 1st
  • LauraLee who left a comment on August 5th

Congratulations ladies! To claim your prize, please contact me with your full name and address by August 17th, 2011. Shipment is to US and Canadian addresses only.

A big thank you to author Jennifer Adams for donating the copies of her great new Austen-inspired children’s book Pride & Prejudice: A BabyLit Board Book and to all who left comments.

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

Pride & Prejudice: Little Miss Austen (BabyLit), by Jennifer Adams – A Review

Pride & Prejudice: BabyLit Boad Book, by Jennifer Adams (2011)I have read all of Jane Austen works, many biographies, nonfiction, and oodles of sequels —  but an Austen-inspired children’s board book? Whoa! Curious? I was. Don’t ya just love the creativity that our Jane inspires?

When I first heard about Pride & Prejudice: Little Miss Austen (BabyLit) by Jennifer Adams, the same author who wrote the lovely Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen, I was quite intrigued. Would this be a retelling of one of my favorite classic novels for very young readers? How would it translate into a children’s counting primer? And, how the heck would I review a children’s book – total virgin territory for me.

Once I had a copy of the book in hand, many of my concerns were immediately dispelled. It was indeed a board book, a small compact cardboard version of a book — easy for a child to hold, unrippable and chewable. (Yes. As a bookseller, I have seen many a toddler stick a board book in their mouth and gnaw on it like a teething ring.) At 22 pages, it was both compact and lightweight, but what will ultimately appeal to parent and child is the total Pride and Prejudice theme that author Jennifer Adams and illustrator Alison Oliver have embraced. From the bright and cheery front cover displaying an image of (one assumes) a wide eyed, and very young Miss Austen, to the 20 clever and striking illustrations inside, I was awed by the choice of characters, Regency clothing and objects used and the ease of the text. Here is an excellent example of Mr. Bingley and Mr. Darcy as 2 rich gentleman!

Pride & Prejudice: Little Miss Austen, illustration, 2 rich gentlemen

Delightful. Of course no book about P&P could possibly NOT include mention of ball gowns, so here is the beautiful illustration that would make Lydia and Kitty Bennet squee.

Pride & Prejudice: Little Miss Austen, illustration, 9 fancy ball gowns

As we progress through the book, each of the pages also moves through the opening chapters of Pride and Prejudice, ending at 10,000 pounds a year. Jennifer Adams has selected key points and characters admirably. Parents, grandparents and anyone who is an Austen fan will recognize their favorite characters and scenes, and children will be enchanted by the illustrations and the counting theme. Of course this board book format could not be a full retelling of the entire narrative, but it gives the very young reader an introduction to characters, images, and a bit of the story that they can remember when they watch the movie adaptation and later move into the full novel.

Charming, whimsical and historical accurate, Pride & Prejudice: Little Miss Austen, offers the very young reader an early introduction to Jane Austen – planting seeds for her total world take-over!

4 out of 5 Regency Stars

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

© 2007 – 2011 Laurel Ann Nattress, Austenprose

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. Continue reading

Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen, by Jennifer Adams – A Review

Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen, by Jennifer Adams (2009)What makes Jane Austen’s writing so extraordinary? Why is she considered by many to be one of the greatest authors in the English language? What does our esteem, or our abhorrence of her reveal about ourselves, and our culture?  

In Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen, one hundred personalities from actors to intellectuals have their say on literature’s queen of wit and style offering their own pithy, impassioned and often candid insights on what makes Jane Austen so special and how she influenced their own writing and lives. If you thought that you had already read most of the famous quotes on Austen over the years, then you just might be surprised by what author and editor Jennifer Adams has selected. Here are a few of my favorites to give you a teaser.  

Admirers 

There are some writers who wrote too much. There are others who wrote enough. There are yet others who wrote nothing like enough to satisfy their admirers, and Jane Austen is certainly one of these.” Margaret Drabble, 1974, Novelist 

How did this early-nineteenth-century novelist become the chick-lit, chick-flick queen for today? It is not only because she is an enduring writer. So is Melville, but bumper stickers and T-shirts read “What would Jane do?” not “What would Herman do?” Caryn James, 2007, Film Critic of the New York Times 

I think, the fact that we have fallen in love with Elizabeth Bennet … means, in effect, that we have fallen in love with Jane Austen; and once we do that we are lovers for life.” Frank Swinnerton, 1940, Literary Critic and Novelist 

Nay-sayers 

Edmund and Fanny are both morally detestable and the endorsement of their feelings and behaviour by the author … makes Mansfield Park an immoral book.” Kingsley Amis, 1957, Novelist and Poet 

Jane Austen? I feel I am approaching dangerous ground. The reputation of Jane Austen is surrounded by cohorts of defenders who are ready to do murder for their sacred cause.” Arnold Bennett, 1927, Literary Critic 

The function of the British army in the novels of Jane Austen is to look cute at parties.” Salmon Rushdie, 2005, Novelist, Political Figure 

Since the first reviews of Austen’s novels appeared in the early nineteenth-century, people have been talking about her – good and bad – leaving a rich field of research for author and editor Jennifer Adams to select from. Here she gives us a glimpse of the most famous and well quoted remarks over the centuries and some totally modern and fresh views from contemporary sources that I was not aware of. Included are an interesting mix of prominent scholars, actors, directors and fellow writers such as Helen Fielding, Ang Lee, Colin Firth, Andrew Davies, Emma Thompson, Karen Joy Fowler, Oscar Wilde, Stephanie Meyer, Mark Twain, Andy Rooney, and Charlotte Bronte. The list is quite impressive, giving due deference to this talented writer. Interestingly, I also found a new nugget of wisdom included in the forward by the author herself. 

To those of us who love Jane Austen, she is like the brightness of burnished silver. Something lovely, with sparkle, that makes our world more beautiful. I adore her. I love the pleasure she gives with a well-turned line, the way she can make you actually laugh out loud, the bite of her sarcasm, how she lets you fall in love again and again.” Jennifer Adams 

Not only is Remarkably Jane packed full of illuminating insights, it is presented in a stunningly beautiful gift quality volume with exquisite black and white illustrations reminiscent of Regency drawings, skillfully honoring and acknowledging one of the most beloved and influential English novelists of all time. For sheer joy of laughter and awe, Jennifer Adams has given us a treasure.

Laurel Ann 

5 out of 5 Regency Stars 

Remarkably Jane: Notable Quotations on Jane Austen, by Jennifer Adams
Gibbs Smith, Layton, UT (2009)
Hardcover, (128) pages
ISBN: 978-1423604785

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