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Dear Mr. Dickens

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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 m 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.


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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 m 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.

30 review for Dear Mr. Dickens

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nathan Bartos

    This is a great picture book about Eliza Davis, who fought back against the hurtful representation of Jewish people in Charles Dickens' books through letters to Dickens himself, causing change in the reprinting of Oliver Twist as well as the creation of a Jewish character (good representation) in Our Mutual Friend. This is a great picture book about Eliza Davis, who fought back against the hurtful representation of Jewish people in Charles Dickens' books through letters to Dickens himself, causing change in the reprinting of Oliver Twist as well as the creation of a Jewish character (good representation) in Our Mutual Friend.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    I sincerely love picture books that give you little bits of fascinating history and introduce you to people you never knew about. Eliza Davis is an avid fan of Charles Dickens and his books. She also belongs to the Jewish faith, so she is saddened when she reads about a Jewish criminal who is always referred to as “The Jew” in Charles Dickens’ book Oliver Twist. She gathers up her courage and writes a letter to the famous Dickens, imploring him to reconsider how he portrays Jews in his writing. I sincerely love picture books that give you little bits of fascinating history and introduce you to people you never knew about. Eliza Davis is an avid fan of Charles Dickens and his books. She also belongs to the Jewish faith, so she is saddened when she reads about a Jewish criminal who is always referred to as “The Jew” in Charles Dickens’ book Oliver Twist. She gathers up her courage and writes a letter to the famous Dickens, imploring him to reconsider how he portrays Jews in his writing. At first, Dickens seems unmoved, but Eliza is undaunted. She writes a second letter to Dickens, telling him that his books do not present Jewish people “as they really are.” And when he writes his next novel, Dickens (just like his beloved character Scrooge) changes. I loved this book. I think it illustrates Dickens’ goodness and the dauntless spirit of Eliza very well. I think it also makes a great point that speaking out does not need to be loud, brash, or forceful. Eliza was not rude or demanding when she wrote to Dickens. Instead, she told him what she thought in a respectful way. I think this is a lesson many of us could learn today while we advocate for change.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Rebecca

    Beautifully illustrated, and does a good job of telling the story of Eliza and how her letters led Dickens to make changes to how he wrote Oliver Twist when it was reprinted. Don't forget to read the history notes in the back. Beautifully illustrated, and does a good job of telling the story of Eliza and how her letters led Dickens to make changes to how he wrote Oliver Twist when it was reprinted. Don't forget to read the history notes in the back.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Lindsay Leslie

    I want to be Eliza when I grow up. What a beautifully told story about Eliza Davis and her speaking up and speaking out via letters to Charles Dickens about his representation of Jewish people in his novels. So many lessons to be learned, namely to wisely use the power of your words and say something.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erika Dreifus

    Even without the full effect (as happy as I was to be granted access to a digital ARC, that really isn't the best format for experiencing the pleasures of reading a picture book), I loved this book. I am lucky enough to be in a critique group with the author, so I'm already well-acquainted with her narrative gifts. But this is story is not merely terrifically told—it is truly so timely and conveys such important messages about speaking up and speaking out. I hope that it reaches a wide, wide aud Even without the full effect (as happy as I was to be granted access to a digital ARC, that really isn't the best format for experiencing the pleasures of reading a picture book), I loved this book. I am lucky enough to be in a critique group with the author, so I'm already well-acquainted with her narrative gifts. But this is story is not merely terrifically told—it is truly so timely and conveys such important messages about speaking up and speaking out. I hope that it reaches a wide, wide audience.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    While most children won't recognize the name of Charles Dickens, that doesn't mean they can't appreciate the courage of Eliza Davis in writing to someone who was a celebrity in her time with her concerns about his writing. After reading a number of his books and discovering that the Jews in his books were generally portrayed as criminals. As Jews in Mrs. Davis's day were treated poorly already, she was concerned that Dicken's portrayals would encourage the already existing prejudice against her While most children won't recognize the name of Charles Dickens, that doesn't mean they can't appreciate the courage of Eliza Davis in writing to someone who was a celebrity in her time with her concerns about his writing. After reading a number of his books and discovering that the Jews in his books were generally portrayed as criminals. As Jews in Mrs. Davis's day were treated poorly already, she was concerned that Dicken's portrayals would encourage the already existing prejudice against her people. She expressed these concerns to the famous author in several letters. At first Dickens dismissed her concerns, but eventually her determination impressed him enough to make changes to his writing. This story presents young readers/listeners with the example of an ordinary person who did something extraordinary and changed her corner of the world. The illustrations are attractive and eye-catching very much add to the appeal of the book.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Robyn McGrath

    Dear Mr. Dickens teaches children the power of the word and standing up for what they believe. We loved the illustrations and learning about this unknown heroine.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Chrisanne

    5 stars for the subject matter. I hadn't ever heard this story before..The notes at the back make me suspect that Eliza was a bit older than the illustrations suggest, but I understand that, based on the audience, it's more impactful if Eliza is younger. And the illustrations are lovely. And I love the point that she makes: there are ways to change things, ways to help people see the way you see, while still respecting their talents and value as a person. 5 stars for the subject matter. I hadn't ever heard this story before..The notes at the back make me suspect that Eliza was a bit older than the illustrations suggest, but I understand that, based on the audience, it's more impactful if Eliza is younger. And the illustrations are lovely. And I love the point that she makes: there are ways to change things, ways to help people see the way you see, while still respecting their talents and value as a person.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Corinne

    Love the illustrations and the story

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tina Hoggatt

    Readable and relatable, little known story about the correspondence between Dickens and a young Jewish mother about Charles Dickens' treatment of jews in his work. I love discovering these unknown aspects of history. Delightful. Readable and relatable, little known story about the correspondence between Dickens and a young Jewish mother about Charles Dickens' treatment of jews in his work. I love discovering these unknown aspects of history. Delightful.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Wallmark

    Charles Dickens was known for bringing attention to society's problems through his writing. But when Eliza read the negative portrayal of the Jewish character, and by extension all Jews, in Oliver Twist, she knew she had to do something. This book will show children that one person speaking up can make a difference Charles Dickens was known for bringing attention to society's problems through his writing. But when Eliza read the negative portrayal of the Jewish character, and by extension all Jews, in Oliver Twist, she knew she had to do something. This book will show children that one person speaking up can make a difference

  12. 5 out of 5

    Pippa Chorley

    Dear Mr Dicken’s written by Nancy Churnin and illustrated by Bethany Stancliffe Is an incredibly powerful picture book about speaking up for ones beliefs and doing what is right no matter what the outcome. This important life lesson is told through the inspirational tale of the actions of a young Victorian Jewish woman living in London. At a time when Charles Dickens was the most celebrated writer in England, and following the success of his book Oliver, Eliza Davis, found herself troubled by the Dear Mr Dicken’s written by Nancy Churnin and illustrated by Bethany Stancliffe Is an incredibly powerful picture book about speaking up for ones beliefs and doing what is right no matter what the outcome. This important life lesson is told through the inspirational tale of the actions of a young Victorian Jewish woman living in London. At a time when Charles Dickens was the most celebrated writer in England, and following the success of his book Oliver, Eliza Davis, found herself troubled by the anti-Semitic tones, particularly shown through the character of Fagin. Wishing to stand up for her people and ensure the view of the world changed towards Jewish people, she took it upon herself write to the esteemed author and share her views and ask that he correct his work. Without giving away the ending, what takes place is both heartening and enthralling and an absolute testament to the power of the pen! Despite having studied Dickens at university and being a huge fan of his work, this fascinating piece of history was not known to me. Not only did I find the book captivating but also uplifting. This story is unique and beautifully written. For the storyline alone, it is worth reading. In addition to the accomplished writing, the illustrations are striking. They are bold, colourful and the burgundy palette put you right in the Victorian era. Through the details of the settings and costumes the story was easy to place in history. Eliza’s expressive and determined face is hard to resist too - I instantly wanted to become friends with her as well as Dickens!

  13. 5 out of 5

    Carol Baldwin

    The year was 1863 when Eliza Davis decided to write to Charles Dickens. She was a Jewish reader, who like many of her fellow Englishmen, paid two pence for his weekly magazine, All the Year Round. Eliza admired Mr. Dickens stories because they were filled with compassion. .... he used the power of his pen to help others. When he wrote about children forced to labor in workhouses, people demanded change. When his readers were moved to tears by tales of families struggling in desperate, dirty condi The year was 1863 when Eliza Davis decided to write to Charles Dickens. She was a Jewish reader, who like many of her fellow Englishmen, paid two pence for his weekly magazine, All the Year Round. Eliza admired Mr. Dickens stories because they were filled with compassion. .... he used the power of his pen to help others. When he wrote about children forced to labor in workhouses, people demanded change. When his readers were moved to tears by tales of families struggling in desperate, dirty conditions, they gave what they could to charities. As did Eliza. Eliza loved his stories until she read Oliver Twist and read about Fagin, the "old shriveled Jew," who taught Oliver to steal. Each time Eliza read Dickens' reference to the Jew, "the word heart hurt like a hammer" on her heart. Eliza feared her letter would make things worse. In spite of her fears, she wrote that his portrayal encouraged a "vial prejudice" and that he needed to "atone for a great wrong." What would the great Mr. Dickens think? He was not pleased and let Eliza know it! He wrote, "Any Jewish people who thought him unfair or unkind--and that included Eliza!--were not "sensible" or "just." Eliza wrote back to him. In her second letter she wrote about his past, present, and future. Months passed and Eliza didn't receive a response. Was Mr. Dickens angry? Finally, chapters of his new novel, Our Mutual Friend, began to appear at newsstands. Eliza "thumbed through the pages, shaking when she realized he had indeed created another Jewish character. Had her fears come true?" In fact, it was the opposite. Mr. Dickens created a Jewish character and named him Mr. Riah, after the Hebrew word, re'a which meant generous and loyal. Eliza read the part where Lizzie Hexam, a young woman Mr. Riah helps, says of the Jews: "I think there cannot be kinder people in the world." Eliza's eyes filled with tears. She sat down at her writing table and thanked Mr. Dickens for his great compliment to her and her people. Eliza's letters had a profound impact on Charles Dickens. He published essays protesting prejudice and during Oliver Twist's reprinting he told his printer to substitute "Fagin" where he had written "the Jew" In their last correspondence, Eliza sent him an English-Hebrew Bible and praised him for making amends. Dickens wrote back that he was glad she'd spoken up to make things right. "Eliza was glad she'd spoken up too." The Author's Note includes extensive background about the history of anti-semitism in England as well as more information about Dickens and Eliza.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Stephanie Tournas

    What did you like about the book? A little known (at least by me) episode in the life of Charles Dickens is brought to life in this account of the epistolary relationship between the author and Eliza Davis, who began writing to Dickens in 1863. She was a fan of his work, and admired how he brought up the issues of poverty and child workers to his readers. However, Davis, who was Jewish, felt Dickens needed to be taken to task for his tendency to stereotype Jewish characters in his writings as di What did you like about the book? A little known (at least by me) episode in the life of Charles Dickens is brought to life in this account of the epistolary relationship between the author and Eliza Davis, who began writing to Dickens in 1863. She was a fan of his work, and admired how he brought up the issues of poverty and child workers to his readers. However, Davis, who was Jewish, felt Dickens needed to be taken to task for his tendency to stereotype Jewish characters in his writings as dishonest, selfish, cruel and ugly, especially in Oliver Twist. It took several letters to get the writer to respond, but eventually the words "the Jew," which had been repeated over and over in Oliver Twist, was changed to "Fagin" in the reprinting. And in his next novel, Our Mutual Friend, Dickens wrote a kind, generous and loyal character in, in the character of Mr. Riah. I really appreciate bringing this to light to young readers. The portrayal of Davis is wonderful: "Eliza wasn't famous or powerful. But she had the same three things that Charles Dickens had: a pen, paper, and something to say." It's great to read of the many forms that activism can take, and to consider the risks Davis was taking at a time when the words of women and Jews were often discounted. A wonderful note at the end amplifies the story as well as providing background to the treatment of Jews in Europe throughout history. A photograph of Eliza Davis is also at the end. It didn't feel that the art added much to the story, mostly focusing on portraying Davis at home. I also question whether a picture book format makes sense to tell the story, as Dickens will be known to older children. I think an expanded version of this story with photographs and facsimiles of the correspondence would be better suited to reach upper elementary and older readers who would know of Dickens.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carmen

    I love, love, loved this true story! I love learning about little unknown facts about important people in history. It was so interesting to discover that the famous author Charles Dickens was as human as you and me, capable of making a mistake and rectifying a wrong. In DEAR MR. DICKENS we learn about a clever, caring Jewish woman Eliza Davis who upon reading Mr. Dickens book OLIVER TWIST, calls him out for his portrayal of the character Fagin as a Jewish criminal: dishonest, selfish, and cruel. I love, love, loved this true story! I love learning about little unknown facts about important people in history. It was so interesting to discover that the famous author Charles Dickens was as human as you and me, capable of making a mistake and rectifying a wrong. In DEAR MR. DICKENS we learn about a clever, caring Jewish woman Eliza Davis who upon reading Mr. Dickens book OLIVER TWIST, calls him out for his portrayal of the character Fagin as a Jewish criminal: dishonest, selfish, and cruel. Eliza knows the prejudices of the current times toward Jewish people (not being treated fairly and equitably) and is worried that the Jewish character Fagin from Mr. Dickens book will lead to even more prejudice toward Jews in the world. Not all Jewish people are criminals she writes Mr. Dickens and asks him to consider to “atone for a great wrong.” Eliza speaks up for what she believes is wrong. At first, Mr. Dickens doesn’t agree with Eliza when he writes her back. But over time and with Eliza Davis’ continued persistent correspondence, Mr. Dickens does acknowledge the power his pen has in the world in shaping biases. In his next novel OUR MUTUAL FRIEND, Dickens creates the character Mr. Riah and portrays this Jewish person as loyal, generous, and kind. I love that children are going to uncover this story and learn about Eliza Davis’ passion and perseverance to stand up and speak up when you know something happening is wrong. That you, like Eliza Davis, do have the power to make things right when you use your voice. In a world where children often see and hear stories of people turning a blind eye to injustice, we have a story to celebrate the complete opposite of that in DEAR MR. DICKENS and how we all have the power to change and do better.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jilanne

    It's been a long time since I've read any books by Dickens, so while I've enjoyed his work, I wouldn't necessarily call myself a "fan." I do, however, watch A Christmas Carol every year. But you don't have to be a fan or have read any of Dickens' books (most picture book readers will probably only know the story of Scrooge) to understand the issue presented in Churnin's book. The character of Fagin in Oliver Twist was presented as a criminal. He was also the only Jewish character Dickens wrote a It's been a long time since I've read any books by Dickens, so while I've enjoyed his work, I wouldn't necessarily call myself a "fan." I do, however, watch A Christmas Carol every year. But you don't have to be a fan or have read any of Dickens' books (most picture book readers will probably only know the story of Scrooge) to understand the issue presented in Churnin's book. The character of Fagin in Oliver Twist was presented as a criminal. He was also the only Jewish character Dickens wrote about, and was often referred to only as "The Jew," instead of by his name. A gutsy Jewish woman by the name of Eliza Davis—who otherwise loved Dickens' stories—rightly felt that this was hurtful, and presented her arguments to the author (more than once, because he rejected her first assertion that his depiction was hurtful) that while SOME of his non-Jewish characters are criminals, ALL of his Jewish characters are presented that way. Through their correspondence, she ultimately prevailed. A new Jewish character emerged in a new novel, Our Mutual Friend, one who was not a criminal. In fact, Mr. Riah (meaning 'friend' in Hebrew) was generous, loyal, and kind. Dickens went on to publish essays protesting prejudice against the Jewish people, AND he had the printer change the text of Oliver Twist to make it less hurtful, replacing "The Jew" with Fagin's name. Eliza Davis's influence had far-reaching effects, making this a terrific story that highlights the power of the individual to influence change.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Sandy Brehl

    It was quite a different world back in the day of Charles Dickens. He was perhaps the biggest celebrity writer/innovator of his time (mid-1800's), serializing his books chapter by chapter, in cheap newspapers. That's how he could reach more readers and earn their loyal support. Using that massive audience throughout Great Britain, Dickens used fiction to speak out on behalf of social justice, using story formats and sympathetic characters to argue against poor housing, child labor, class oppress It was quite a different world back in the day of Charles Dickens. He was perhaps the biggest celebrity writer/innovator of his time (mid-1800's), serializing his books chapter by chapter, in cheap newspapers. That's how he could reach more readers and earn their loyal support. Using that massive audience throughout Great Britain, Dickens used fiction to speak out on behalf of social justice, using story formats and sympathetic characters to argue against poor housing, child labor, class oppression, miserable living and health conditions, and more. Eliza Davis was one of his biggest fans, admiring the way he used what today would be called his "platform" and "social media" to improve living conditions for all. Then she read OLIVER TWIST and some other novels in which the most evil of evil antagonists were depicted as stereotypical/propagandistic/antisemitic characters, not only designated as Jews, but then often referred to in later passages as "The Jew" rather than by name. Dickens received plenty of mail, and to his credit he responded to some. He did, in fact, respond to Eliza's thoughtful letter of complaint about this situation, saying that evil people could come from any background, and certainly there were Jewish villains in real life. Score one for brave Eliza to write, and another for Dickens to respond. But the story is just beginning here, and kids should certainly be hooked in these early pages to find out whether a popular and powerful author might actually consider making a significant change to a best-selling book. If anything serves as an example of the power of the pen, of the benefits of thoughtful reading, of speaking out about injustice, of supporting solid arguments with legitimate facts, THIS IS IT! What a timely read this historical picture book will be!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Chana Stiefel

    Reading DEAR MR. DICKENS by Nancy Churnin, illustrated by Bethany Stancliffe, reminded me of a sign in the office of my professor Bill Burrows at NYU Journalism School. It said: “Write Wrongs.” That’s exactly what Eliza Davis did when she read the antisemitic depiction of Fagin, the Jewish character in Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Dickens had described “the Jew” as selfish, cruel, and ugly. Davis, a Jewish woman living in England in the 1860s—a time when Jews were discriminated against—took Reading DEAR MR. DICKENS by Nancy Churnin, illustrated by Bethany Stancliffe, reminded me of a sign in the office of my professor Bill Burrows at NYU Journalism School. It said: “Write Wrongs.” That’s exactly what Eliza Davis did when she read the antisemitic depiction of Fagin, the Jewish character in Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Dickens had described “the Jew” as selfish, cruel, and ugly. Davis, a Jewish woman living in England in the 1860s—a time when Jews were discriminated against—took it upon herself to “write a wrong” by writing letters to Charles Dickens telling him that his portrayal of Fagin encouraged a “vile prejudice.” At first, Dickens was defensive. But Davis persisted and continued to write to the famous author to convince him that his words mattered. What happened next will amaze you. This beautiful, little known story will empower kids (and adults) to “write wrongs,” to use the power of their words to stand up for what’s right and just, to fight prejudice, and to make a difference in the world. Like Liza Davis, all you need is “a pen, paper, and something to say.”

  19. 5 out of 5

    Diane

    I loved DEAR MR. DICKENS, and I teared up more than once. Eliza Davis's story touched me. I first discovered Dickens's books when I was twelve and have been a fan ever since. I love Dickens, both for his way with language and, especially, for his advocacy for people who are poor. But I have been upset by the anti-Semitic flavor of some of his work. I was thrilled to learn about Eliza Davis's correspondence with Dickens. Churnin draws the reader in immediately, asking what they would do if a famo I loved DEAR MR. DICKENS, and I teared up more than once. Eliza Davis's story touched me. I first discovered Dickens's books when I was twelve and have been a fan ever since. I love Dickens, both for his way with language and, especially, for his advocacy for people who are poor. But I have been upset by the anti-Semitic flavor of some of his work. I was thrilled to learn about Eliza Davis's correspondence with Dickens. Churnin draws the reader in immediately, asking what they would do if a famous person they admired did or said something unfair--and then tells Eliza Davis's story. Churnin does an excellent job of portraying Dickens's stature and fame in his day, and she describes the horrible discrimination Jewish people faced at that time. I admire Eliza Davis for her courage and persistence. Both children and adults will treasure this book, and be prompted to, like Eliza Davis, speak up and not be intimidated by anyone's fame or prestige.

  20. 4 out of 5

    K G

    Eliza Davis found herself in a difficult situation. Charles Dickens, one of the most popular authors in England, had created characters in books that she felt were harmful to the already beleagured Jewish community. Dickens' magazines-which-became-books guided and seemed to reinforce unfair and dangerous opinions and anti-semitic tropes prevalent in England. So, like Dickens, she put her feelings to paper. Thus began an unexpected and moving connection between two strangers whose impact would ch Eliza Davis found herself in a difficult situation. Charles Dickens, one of the most popular authors in England, had created characters in books that she felt were harmful to the already beleagured Jewish community. Dickens' magazines-which-became-books guided and seemed to reinforce unfair and dangerous opinions and anti-semitic tropes prevalent in England. So, like Dickens, she put her feelings to paper. Thus began an unexpected and moving connection between two strangers whose impact would change literature and possibly culture. This unknown story shows just how imporant a single word can be--and how far courage can go to right a wrong. This book will appeal to adults and children--and hopefully, encourage both to seek kindness and promote it. The art beautifully enhances the emotion, giving the story a sense of a time, place, and setting unfamiliar to children living in our digital culture.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Darlene

    DEAR MR. DICKENS by Nancy Churnin, illustrated by Bethany Stancliffe The true story of a woman named Eliza Davis, who admired Charles Dickens, and how his stories moved people to change living conditions for the poor throughout England. His books influenced people. Eliza loved his books, until she read OLIVER TWIST. In it, Dickens described the character of Fagin as…”dishonest, selfish, cruel, and ugly …the Jew…” Those words hurt Eliza, who was Jewish. Things were already difficult for Jews in the DEAR MR. DICKENS by Nancy Churnin, illustrated by Bethany Stancliffe The true story of a woman named Eliza Davis, who admired Charles Dickens, and how his stories moved people to change living conditions for the poor throughout England. His books influenced people. Eliza loved his books, until she read OLIVER TWIST. In it, Dickens described the character of Fagin as…”dishonest, selfish, cruel, and ugly …the Jew…” Those words hurt Eliza, who was Jewish. Things were already difficult for Jews in the 1860’s. If people believed Dickens’ words, would Jewish people ever be treated fairly? Using the only tools she possessed, Eliza wrote a letter to Mr. Dickens. Using the construct of past, present, and future, from A CHRISTMAS CAROL, Eliza reasoned with the author and changed his mind and heart toward Jewish people. This is a great book to begin a conversation on how speaking up for what is right can correct a wrong. Highly recommended for every classroom.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ellen Leventhal

    The story of Eliza Davis and her appeal to Charles Dickens is a powerful read for both children and adults. Eliza loved reading Charles Dickens's stories; however, when she saw the portrayal of Jews in OLIVER TWIST, it upset her, so she spoke up. Her first letter angered Dickens, but she persisted and explained how harmful this portrayal was. Because she refused to back down, she was able to show Dickens the harm this could cause, and he took action to correct it. Churnin's words and Stancliffe' The story of Eliza Davis and her appeal to Charles Dickens is a powerful read for both children and adults. Eliza loved reading Charles Dickens's stories; however, when she saw the portrayal of Jews in OLIVER TWIST, it upset her, so she spoke up. Her first letter angered Dickens, but she persisted and explained how harmful this portrayal was. Because she refused to back down, she was able to show Dickens the harm this could cause, and he took action to correct it. Churnin's words and Stancliffe's art kept me totally engaged the whole time. Words have power, and this is the perfect book to show this. When children read this story, they will understand that they, too, have the power to change things with their words. I highly recommend this book for every school, library, and home library.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Shirin Shamsi

    Dear Mr. Dickens, by Nancy Churnin, is such an amazing story. Eliza Davis, a young Jewish mother living in Victorian England, loved to read the works of Charles Dickens. She looked forward to each new installment of his stories, but was troubled by the anti-semitic tones Dickens used to describe the character of Fagin, in Oliver Twist. Eliza bravely wrote to Charles Dickens, who was at first angered by her comments. This story is so powerful. It shows the power of words, and of how a young unkno Dear Mr. Dickens, by Nancy Churnin, is such an amazing story. Eliza Davis, a young Jewish mother living in Victorian England, loved to read the works of Charles Dickens. She looked forward to each new installment of his stories, but was troubled by the anti-semitic tones Dickens used to describe the character of Fagin, in Oliver Twist. Eliza bravely wrote to Charles Dickens, who was at first angered by her comments. This story is so powerful. It shows the power of words, and of how a young unknown woman confronted the most famous writer of her time. She spoke up for what was right - and made a difference. Beautifully written and illustrated, this is a story to inspire children to use their words, and voices, to stand up for what is right - because words are powerful.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Melissa Stoller

    What an amazing story - author Nancy Churnin brings to life the story of how Eliza Davis found the courage to stand up and speak up for what she believed - even if it meant speaking up to the greatest writer of the time, Charles Dickens! Eliza, who was Jewish, wrote to Dickens to say that his portrayal of the character Fagin in Oliver Twist was anti-semitic and she hoped he could do better. The language and artwork beautifully convey a sense of England and the time period - as well as the streng What an amazing story - author Nancy Churnin brings to life the story of how Eliza Davis found the courage to stand up and speak up for what she believed - even if it meant speaking up to the greatest writer of the time, Charles Dickens! Eliza, who was Jewish, wrote to Dickens to say that his portrayal of the character Fagin in Oliver Twist was anti-semitic and she hoped he could do better. The language and artwork beautifully convey a sense of England and the time period - as well as the strength and conviction it took for Eliza to speak out against hatred. Also - the back matter presents interesting historical notes and further information and context. This book is much needed today and will make an excellent addition to home, school, and library collections.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    This book about Eliza Davis and Charles Dickens encourages children to think critically about things they read in other books, and see that they have the right to hold authors accountable for what they write. In showing how Eliza Davis challenged Dickens, and encouraged him to think through the impact of his words on others, the author also encourages children to think about their own words and the various ways they can use them. The author’s note is useful in contextualizing the historical mome This book about Eliza Davis and Charles Dickens encourages children to think critically about things they read in other books, and see that they have the right to hold authors accountable for what they write. In showing how Eliza Davis challenged Dickens, and encouraged him to think through the impact of his words on others, the author also encourages children to think about their own words and the various ways they can use them. The author’s note is useful in contextualizing the historical moment and providing more insight into Davis and her life. The illustrations make the text more accessible, in representing the Eliza Davis as friendly and open.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Tina Shepardson

    What a story from author Nancy Churnin about advocacy! When a woman named Eliza Davis reads a story entitled Oliver Twist, she is taken aback by the way a specific character is portrayed: anti-semitic. She decided to confront the author with a letter who is none other than Charles Dickens. She simply requests that he write more favorably of her Jewish people the next time. After several written exchanges he does and this is a beautiful story about advocating peacefully and accepting each other r What a story from author Nancy Churnin about advocacy! When a woman named Eliza Davis reads a story entitled Oliver Twist, she is taken aback by the way a specific character is portrayed: anti-semitic. She decided to confront the author with a letter who is none other than Charles Dickens. She simply requests that he write more favorably of her Jewish people the next time. After several written exchanges he does and this is a beautiful story about advocating peacefully and accepting each other regardless of our differing faiths. The illustration palette compliments the text and the time period in England. A terrific story for schools, libraries, and families.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Nelly Buchet

    DEAR MR. DICKENS is the moving (true!) story of Eliza Davis, a woman who wrote to Charles Dickens about his problematic portrayal of the character Fagin in OLIVER TWIST. Dickens was known as a champion of good causes (ending child labor, etc) and people listened to him. Eliza noted that the way Dickens emphasized that Fagin, a dishonest and ugly character, was Jewish, fed a dangerous prejudice. So Eliza spoke up: "Eliza wasn't famous or powerful. But she had the same three things that Charles Di DEAR MR. DICKENS is the moving (true!) story of Eliza Davis, a woman who wrote to Charles Dickens about his problematic portrayal of the character Fagin in OLIVER TWIST. Dickens was known as a champion of good causes (ending child labor, etc) and people listened to him. Eliza noted that the way Dickens emphasized that Fagin, a dishonest and ugly character, was Jewish, fed a dangerous prejudice. So Eliza spoke up: "Eliza wasn't famous or powerful. But she had the same three things that Charles Dickens had: a pen, a paper, and something to say." An important example of how we can all use our voices to make the world a better place!

  28. 5 out of 5

    Christine Evans

    It’s no secret that I love picture book biographies and this one is special. It takes someone we know: Charles Dickens, but instead of talking about his life, it reveals the unknown story of Eliza Davies. Davies wrote to Dickens protesting his stereotypical and harmful depiction of Jewish people in Oliver Twist. And she made a difference! I love how the story teaches kids that they can make a difference and that activism takes many forms, in this case letter-writing. This book, which contains quo It’s no secret that I love picture book biographies and this one is special. It takes someone we know: Charles Dickens, but instead of talking about his life, it reveals the unknown story of Eliza Davies. Davies wrote to Dickens protesting his stereotypical and harmful depiction of Jewish people in Oliver Twist. And she made a difference! I love how the story teaches kids that they can make a difference and that activism takes many forms, in this case letter-writing. This book, which contains quotes from the actual letters, is a triumph. A must read!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Aimée Bissonette

    A tremendous story for readers of all ages (but especially young readers) about the power of speaking up – even if the person you are speaking to is famous and highly regarded. Nancy Churnin has done an excellent job, once again, of treating readers to a little slice of history while giving them so much more to think about and discuss. Bethany Stancliffe’s illustrations beautifully depict the era. A detailed author’s note provides additional background information about discrimination against th A tremendous story for readers of all ages (but especially young readers) about the power of speaking up – even if the person you are speaking to is famous and highly regarded. Nancy Churnin has done an excellent job, once again, of treating readers to a little slice of history while giving them so much more to think about and discuss. Bethany Stancliffe’s illustrations beautifully depict the era. A detailed author’s note provides additional background information about discrimination against the Jews and Eliza Davis’ bold letters to Charles Dickens. A delicious read!

  30. 5 out of 5

    Laurie Kutscera

    Wow! What a powerful story. This beautifully written and illustrated book brought me to tears. Eliza Davis knew Charles Dickens was a great man. But some of his books reflected a deep prejudice against Jews. Eliza was Jewish and was hurt to see a Jewish character in Oliver Twist portrayed in such a detrimental way. But how do you speak out against someone as admired as Dickens? You write a letter! What happened next is history. I cannot recommend this book enough. Poignant, inspiring and educati Wow! What a powerful story. This beautifully written and illustrated book brought me to tears. Eliza Davis knew Charles Dickens was a great man. But some of his books reflected a deep prejudice against Jews. Eliza was Jewish and was hurt to see a Jewish character in Oliver Twist portrayed in such a detrimental way. But how do you speak out against someone as admired as Dickens? You write a letter! What happened next is history. I cannot recommend this book enough. Poignant, inspiring and educational.

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