The Children's Book Garden

Reading and weeding through the best and worst of children's literature

My Uncle Emily: Dickenson I can read February 2, 2010

Filed under: Biography & History-Based — Maiaoming @ 9:37 am
Tags: , , ,

My Uncle EmilyI have a confession to make: I went to graduate school to earn my MFA in Poetry.

But I’m not a fan of Emily Dickenson.

Sure, I like the idea of her – white dress, recluse, weirdo – what’s not to love? Well, for me, her poetry.

But there aren’t a lot of books for my young kids about poets, so when I saw this at our library I took a chance – one that mostly paid off!

Based on a true story, the narrative of My Uncle Emily by Jane Yolen and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter is told by Emily’s nephew, who takes a poem she wrote to school and gets in a skirmish with another little boy – and then doesn’t tell his family about it. Emily’s message about telling the truth encourages him to finally come clean about what happened. We get a very sweetly told story about a young boy grappling with early morality and loyalty as well as some charming scenes featuring his relationship with his “uncle” and, of course, some poems.

I love that the book doesn’t get bogged down in too much historical data or with trying to advocate for anything outside the story. It’s a little long for me – when reading aloud, I get very picky about the kind of text I like to read – but the kids connected with the plight of the boy and I loved the fact that they encountered a grown woman who was weird and writing poetry.

I’m not rushing out to buy this book, but I think it would be a lovely addition to my library at some point.