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***The Perfect Wizard

Hans Christian Andersen

by Jane Yolen

illustrated by Dennis Nolan

Reviewed September 13, 2005.
Dutton Children’s Books, New York, 2004.  40 pages.
Available at Sembach Library (JB AND).

This lovely picture book simply tells the rags-to-riches story of Hans Christian Andersen’s life.  He was born to a poor family, but he was always making up stories and dreamed of being an actor.  His father died when he was only eleven.  At fourteen, he was on his own, and went off to Copenhagen to try to learn a trade.

He tried to get a job at the theater, but was thrown out.  However, his persistence got him sent to the theater’s ballet school, and eventually to grammar school at seventeen years of age—an odd classmate for the eleven-year-olds.

All this time, Hans refused to give up and kept on writing.  He kept writing while studying at the university.  He paid to have his books published, which was common in those days, and he met with some success.  When he was thirty, he began the work for which he is still known today—writing fairy tales.  He became a celebrity and got to travel the world.

This is a charming true story of a man who followed his dreams with hard work and determination.  On each page, Jane Yolen has inserted a quotation from one of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tales that perfectly illustrates his life at that stage.

As Andersen himself said, “Once there was a man well acquainted with fairy tales.  In fact, they used to come knocking at his door.”

Reviews of other books by Jane Yolen:

Mightier Than the Sword
Take Joy:  A Book for Writers

Sleeping Ugly

Sword of the Rightful King

The Tartan Magic series:
The Wizard's Map
The Pictish Child
The Bagpiper's Ghost

With Robert J. Harris:
Girl in a Cage  
Hippolyta and the Curse of the Amazons

Review of another book illustrated by Dennis Nolan:
The Dog Prince

Copyright © 2005 Sondra Eklund.  All rights reserved.

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