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Dear Mr. Dickens



by
Nancy Churnin
illustrated by
Bethany Stancliffe

Edition
Hardcover edition
Publisher
Albert Whitman & Company
Imprint
Albert Whitman
ISBN
9780807515303

Awards and Honors
2022 The Sydney Taylor Book Award - Picture Book Silver Medal
POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Discrimination: Religious
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In Eliza Davis's day, Charles Dickens was the most celebrated living writer in England. But some of his books reflected a prejudice that was all too common at the time: prejudice against Jewish people. Eliza was Jewish, and her heart hurt to see a Jewish character in Oliver Twist portrayed as ugly and selfish. She wanted to speak out about how unfair that was, even if it meant speaking out against the great man himself. So she wrote a letter to Charles Dickens. What happened next is history.

Author’s note. Source notes. Full-color illustrations. 

POTENTIALLY SENSITIVE AREAS
Discrimination: Religious

Details

Format

Print

Page Count

32

Trim Size

10" x 8"

Dewey

823

AR

4.4: points 0.5

Lexile

AD740L

Genre

Nonfic

Scholastic Reading Counts

0

JLG Release

Mar 2022

Book Genres

Picture Book, Narrative Nonfiction

Topics

Charles Dickens (1812–1870). Eliza Davis (c. 1816–1903). Letters and correspondence. Jews in literature. Nineteenth-century England. Stereotypes. Standing up for your beliefs.

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Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 1-5-It is difficult to find children's books that focus on the severity of anti-Semitism that aren't about the persecution of the Jewish people during eras such as the Holocaust, pogroms, or the Inquisition. Churnin, known for her feel-good picture biographies about unlikely heroes, examines a less-familiar period in history in her newest work. The story centers on real-life Eliza Davis, a devoted reader and fan of Charles Dickens, who took it upon herself to write to the celebrated author about her concerns with the depiction of the Jewish thief, Fagin, in Oliver Twist. Fagin's character encouraged "a vile prejudice" during a time in mid-19th century England when Jewish people faced discrimination. What unfolds in the story proves that with pen and paper, and some courage, we can persuade our own models to make their wrongs right. Excerpts from Dickens's correspondence with Eliza and sprinklings of literary references will especially delight Dickens fans. Not only is this historical account well written, Stancliffe's illustrations powerfully transport readers back to the era with well-placed details such as the floral wallpaper in Eliza's home, and her crinoline dress and puffy sleeves. The only flaw is that the illustrations characterize Eliza as young, but she was 47 when she wrote her first letter to Dickens. VERDICT An important addition to libraries that fills a gap about anti-Semitism and confronting prejudice.-Danielle Winter, Brooklyn P.L.

Praise & Reviews

School Library Journal

Gr 1-5-It is difficult to find children's books that focus on the severity of anti-Semitism that aren't about the persecution of the Jewish people during eras such as the Holocaust, pogroms, or the Inquisition. Churnin, known for her feel-good picture biographies about unlikely heroes, examines a less-familiar period in history in her newest work. The story centers on real-life Eliza Davis, a devoted reader and fan of Charles Dickens, who took it upon herself to write to the celebrated author about her concerns with the depiction of the Jewish thief, Fagin, in Oliver Twist. Fagin's character encouraged "a vile prejudice" during a time in mid-19th century England when Jewish people faced discrimination. What unfolds in the story proves that with pen and paper, and some courage, we can persuade our own models to make their wrongs right. Excerpts from Dickens's correspondence with Eliza and sprinklings of literary references will especially delight Dickens fans. Not only is this historical account well written, Stancliffe's illustrations powerfully transport readers back to the era with well-placed details such as the floral wallpaper in Eliza's home, and her crinoline dress and puffy sleeves. The only flaw is that the illustrations characterize Eliza as young, but she was 47 when she wrote her first letter to Dickens. VERDICT An important addition to libraries that fills a gap about anti-Semitism and confronting prejudice.-Danielle Winter, Brooklyn P.L.

Grades 2-6
Religious Books Elementary
For Grades 2-6

This category provides six books per year featuring content with religious themes and context.

12 books per Year
$236.64 per Year
Interests
Chapter Books,Diversity,Fiction,Nonfiction,Positive Messages
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Grades 2-6
Religious Books Elementary
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