Deborah Hopkinson

Award Winning Author of Fiction & Nonfiction for Children & Teens

A Boy Called Dickens

A Boy Called Dickens

What is this book about?

For years Dick­ens kept the sto­ry of his own child­hood a secret. Yet it is a sto­ry worth telling. For it helps us remem­ber how much we all might lose when a child’s dreams don’t come true … As a child, Dick­ens was forced to live on his own and work long hours in a rat-infest­ed black­ing fac­to­ry. Read­ers will be drawn into the wind­ing streets of Lon­don, where they will learn how Dick­ens got the inspi­ra­tion for many of his char­ac­ters. We cel­e­brat­ed Dick­ens’ 200th birth­day on Feb­ru­ary 7, 2012. This tale of his lit­tle-known boy­hood is the per­fect way to intro­duce kids to the great author. Here is his­tor­i­cal fic­tion at its inge­nious best.

illustration from A Boy Called Dickens
illus­tra­tion from A Boy Named Dick­ens. Illus­tra­tion copy­right © 2011,
John Hen­drix. Schwartz & Wade, pub­lish­er / Pen­guin Ran­dom House.

Awards and Accolades

  • Book­list Best Chil­dren’s Book 2012
  • Junior Library Guild Selection


  • Done with Dick­ens,” John Hen­drix, Draw­ing on Dead­line, 6 June 2011 (many exam­ples of John’s fine illustrations)


“Both acces­si­ble and rich in sim­i­le and metaphor, this fic­tion­al­ized biog­ra­phy con­cerns the bud­ding novelist’s com­ing of age, as he ekes out a liv­ing (dur­ing his family’s stint in debtors’ prison) and pur­sues his dream.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

“Hopkinson’s engag­ing text invites read­ers to expe­ri­ence the sto­ry with her … full of well-craft­ed descrip­tion and detail.” (School Library Jour­nal)

“A fine intro­duc­tion to the writer, and a ter­rif­ic, com­plete­ly un-preachy depar­ture point for dis­cus­sions of child labor and social reform.” (Book­list)

A Boy Called Dickens

author, Deb­o­rah Hop­kin­son
illus­tra­tor, John Hen­drix
Schwartz & Wade
Pen­guin Ran­dom House
ages 4 and up, 2002
ISBN 978–0‑375–86732‑3

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