HOUSE OF DREAMS: The Life of L. M. Montgomery, by Liz Rosenberg and Julie Morstad, Candlewick, June 12, 2018, Hardcover, $17.99 (ages 10-14)
Like most of you reading this, I grew up with Anne of Green Gables. I read the book and I watched the movie staring Megan Follows until my VHS tape fell apart. Of course, L.M. Montgomery wrote more than Anne of Green Gables — I’m loved the Emily books, but she’ll always be known for Anne.
As much as I love the fictional YA novel Maud by Melanie Fishbane, I’ve been wanting an accessible biography of the famous author, and I found that in House of Dreams: The Life of L.M. Montgomery, written by Liz Rosenberg and illustrated by Julie Morstad.
Once upon a time, there was a girl named Maud who adored stories. When she was fourteen years old, Maud wrote in her journal, “I love books. I hope when I grow up to be able to have lots of them.” Not only did Maud grow up to own lots of books, she wrote twenty-four of them herself as L. M. Montgomery, the world-renowned author of Anne of Green Gables. For many years, not a great deal was known about Maud’s personal life. Her childhood was spent with strict, undemonstrative grandparents, and her reflections on writing, her lifelong struggles with anxiety and depression, her “year of mad passion,” and her difficult married life remained locked away, buried deep within her unpublished personal journals. —Synopsis provided by Candlewick Press
Most people like to think that Maud had a fairy tale life, but it was far from it. Though I knew Maud’s childhood was not easy, I was surprised to learn how unhappy Maud was in her adult life.
House of Dreams is written for older middle-graders/ early young adults, but that doesn’t mean Rosenberg shies from hard subjects. I would suggest reading it before or concurrently with your child so as to properly address them together.
House of Dreams is one of the better written biographies I’ve read for this age group. Rosenberg’s writing is smooth, and the book feels at times more like a novel than a biography. The addition of Morstad’s charming line illustrations provides some whimsy throughout.
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