Mr Darcy has been invited to tea by local lass Lizzy and her sisters. He lives in a beautiful, sparkly park; while she lives in a dull, ordinary park that he’s never been to before. He decides not to go. The trouble is, he is lonely and would secretly love to attend. So why does he turn bright red and run away whenever he bumps into her? With the help of his animal friends, Mr Darcy needs to overcome his pride and his prejudice before he and Lizzy can be friends at last.
Sound familiar? The sweet story of Darcy the Duck has been rereleased this year to celebrate the 200th anniversary of Jane Austen’s classic love story Pride and Prejudice. For 200 years, people have been willing stubborn Lizzie and the enigmatic, misunderstood Darcy to be friends. The story has been re-imagined in many ways over its 200 years, from the popular television miniseries that put Colin Firth on the map to Bridget Jones’ Diary, which put a modern twist in the tale. Alex Field’s child-friendly spin on the story takes the original novel’s moral messages back to basics, challenging little readers to overcome shyness and fear of the unknown. Mr Darcy shows how easily shyness can be mistaken for rudeness, and children may be encouraged to look deeper when dealing with quieter peers and persist in inviting them to be a part of their games.
As part of the 200th anniversary commemorations, Field has also written a clever sequel – Mr Darcy the Dancing Duck. Here, Mr Darcy sets out for his morning walk and realises the spring daffodils are in bloom. This can only mean one thing – dancing season! Lizzy and her sisters are already merrily weaving their way around a maypole, but Mr Darcy has two left feet. Mr Darcy’s friends are happy to help him learn, if he can only shake off a little more of that pesky pride.
The Mr Darcy books are written in straight-forward language with bright, clear illustrations by Peter Carnavas. They are ‘classic’ storybooks – no gimmicks or obscure art work – which gently offer life lessons for young readers. They are also a terrific way to introduce children to the English literary canon and begin a conversation about what makes a timeless tale or a celebrated writer.
Mr Darcy and Mr Darcy the Dancing Duck are published by New Frontier and I thank them kindly for my review copies.