Book review: The Brontes: Children of the Moors

Published by Emma Lee-Potter in on Saturday 9th July 2016

The BrontesIf I was in charge of a primary school library I’d make sure we had a copy of every single book by Mick Manning and Brita Granström.

The award-winning pair have produced children’s books on all manner of subjects, including Shakespeare, Dickens and Darwin.

My favourite up until now was The Beatles, which tells the story of the Fab Four through a series of captivating cartoons, drawings and text. I thought I knew loads about John, Paul, George and Ringo already but thanks to this book I discovered how they came up with the band’s name (they spelled Beatles with an “a” because they played Beat music) and how Paul McCartney woke up one day with a beautiful tune in his head and found he’d composed Yesterday in his sleep).

Now the dazzling duo have turned their attention to Charlotte, Emily and Anne Brontë, describing the sisters’ lives through drawings, documents and anecdotes. The Brontës: Children of the Moors is fascinating, fun and beautifully illustrated – a must-read for primary-aged children.

The idea for the book came about because Mick Manning grew up in Haworth, the Yorkshire village where the Brontë sisters lived. When he was eight a BBC crew arrived at his school, looking for a boy to play the part of a young shepherd in a new TV series of Wuthering Heights. Sure enough, they chose Manning.

The Brontës: Children of the Moors tells the individual stories of the sisters too – and their love for the “blustery moors” where they spent much of their lives. My favourite pages describe their long walks, complete with drawings of the feathers of moorland birds and snippets of their writing. The book includes an illustrated resumé of the plots of Jane Eyre, Wuthering Heights and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, with just enough detail to inspire older readers to read the books themselves.

As with Manning and Granström’s book about The Beatles, I learned lots of things I didn’t know about the Brontë sisters before, such as the “tiny, toy-soldier-sized magazines, newspapers and booklets” Charlotte and Emily created as children and the fact that Charlotte’s husband remained at Haworth Parsonage after her death and cared for her elderly father.

The Brontës: Children of the Moors by Mick Manning and Brita Granström (Franklin Watts, £12.99)

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