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Perfect Wizard, The: Hans Christian Andersen Hardcover – February 3, 2005

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Grade 1-5–"Hans told lies, too. About his past life. About his present life. He called them fairy tales." Yolen uses these words at the start of her simple, wistful, and winsome portrait of a very complicated and, by most accounts, very unhappy man. From the humble, one-room shoemaker's house of his birth to his tortured schoolboy days, from the haunting trauma of his father's death to the eventual recognition of his genius, readers follow this persistent artist through the landscape of 19th-century Denmark on his quest for some kind of personal and professional peace. This volume, with its patrician wallpaper and sepia-tinged pastel pictures framed with gentle arches, is handsome where its ugly-duckling subject was, by his own reckoning, most assuredly not. In her affectionate, fairy-tale-flavored narrative, Yolen pairs events from Andersen's life with excerpts from his stories, providing new and different interpretations of the tales in this context. Full-page paintings depict the realistic scenes, while smaller vignettes illustrate the fictional ones; these oval-shaped pictures seem to let viewers peer right into the meanderings of Andersen's yearning imagination. The quotes take on new and different meanings when readers see them connected, both visually and verbally, to real experiences and emotions. With a well-measured note from the author and a meticulous listing of excerpt sources, this is a carefully crafted, lovely, and loving tribute to the father of the modern fairy tale.–Kathy Krasniewicz, Perrot Library, Old Greenwich, CT

From Booklist

Gr. 1-3. This lively picture-book account of Andersen's life concentrates on his childhood and youth, which included a lengthy "ugly duckling" phase before his poverty and privation were overmatched by his hard work and determination. Meanwhile, Andersen developed his talents as a writer and eventually achieved international fame and literary immortality. Andersen grows from boy to man in a series of sensitive and often dreamlike pictures. Gracefully drawn and softly lit, the illustrations create a sense of another world through sepia and pale blue tones sparked with brighter colors. One large, full-page picture appears on each spread, facing a page with a few paragraphs telling his story and a passage from his fairy tales accompanied by a smaller picture illustrating the passage. The quotes from the tales relate to stages and events in the writer's life, but children are free to draw their own connections. This handsome biography is a fine choice to display or read aloud on April 2, which is International Children's Book Day and (no coincidence here) Hans Christian Andersen's birthday. Carolyn Phelan
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 5 - 9 years
  • Grade Level: 1 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 870L (What's this?)
  • Hardcover: 32 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Juvenile; First Edition edition (February 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525469559
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525469551
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 0.5 x 11.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,097,709 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Born and raised in New York City, Jane Yolen now lives in Hatfield, Massachusetts. She attended Smith College and received her master's degree in education from the University of Massachusetts. The distinguished author of more than 170 books, Jane Yolen is a person of many talents. When she is not writing, Yolen composes songs, is a professional storyteller on the stage, and is the busy wife of a university professor, the mother of three grown children, and a grandmother. Active in several organizations, Yolen has been on the Board of Directors of the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, was president of the Science Fiction Writers of America from 1986 to 1988, is on the editorial board of several magazines, and was a founding member of the Western New England Storytellers Guild, the Western Massachusetts Illustrators Guild, and the Bay State Writers Guild. For twenty years, she ran a monthly writer's workshop for new children's book authors. In 1980, when Yolen was awarded an honorary Doctor of Law degree by Our Lady of the Elms College in Chicopee, Massachusetts, the citation recognized that "throughout her writing career she has remained true to her primary source of inspiration--folk culture." Folklore is the "perfect second skin," writes Yolen. "From under its hide, we can see all the shimmering, shadowy uncertainties of the world." Folklore, she believes, is the universal human language, a language that children instinctively feel in their hearts. All of Yolen's stories and poems are somehow rooted in her sense of family and self. The Emperor and the Kite, which was a Caldecott Honor Book in 1983 for its intricate papercut illustrations by Ed Young, was based on Yolen's relationship with her late father, who was an international kite-flying champion. Owl Moon, winner of the 1988 Caldecott Medal for John Schoenherr's exquisite watercolors, was inspired by her husband's interest in birding. Yolen's graceful rhythms and outrageous rhymes have been gathered in numerous collections. She has earned many awards over the years: the Regina Medal, the Kerlan Award, the World Fantasy Award, the Society of Children's Book Writers Award, the Mythopoetic Society's Aslan Award, the Christopher Medal, the Boy's Club Jr. Book Award, the Garden State Children's Book Award, the Daedalus Award, a number of Parents' Choice Magazine Awards, and many more. Her books and stories have been translated into Japanese, French, Spanish, Chinese, German, Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, Afrikaans, !Xhosa, Portuguese, and Braille. With a versatility that has led her to be called "America's Hans Christian Andersen," Yolen, the child of two writers, is a gifted and natural storyteller. Perhaps the best explanation for her outstanding accomplishments comes from Jane Yolen herself: "I don't care whether the story is real or fantastical. I tell the story that needs to be told."

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
My son (age 8) and I did enjoy this book. I homeschool and wanted him to know some of the major fairy tale writers. The book is detailed enough but short enough for him to learn and not be bored. It is a picture book in that there is plenty of information and story but visual enough for a squirmy 8 year old boy. I would advise that a parent might want to learn a little bit about H.C.A. so some of the stories you might advise your "listeners" to. H.C.A. wrote quite a few biographies with each one being a little different in information. Will the real Hans Christian Anderson please stand up? This is a great, perfect introduction.
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By M. Heiss on March 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover
In 21st century America, Hans Christian Andersen would have a "label" for sure. Tenacious, single-minded, oblivious, and bragging, this book shows how those character traits worked out for Hans.

My son picked this up because "Hans" is close to "Han" (as in Solo) and he needed to choose a biography of a writer. So it goes. I was blown away by the artwork -- large illustrations of Andersen's circumstances, plus small illustrations of the stories.

Gorgeous book! Enjoy it for yourself!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Going to Denmark Soon...wanted to read more on the Great Danish Author Hans Christian Anderson!!
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