EMILY DICKINSON'S LETTERS TO THE WORLD

Jeanette Winter, Author, Jeanette Winter, Illustrator
Jeanette Winter, Author, Jeanette Winter, Illustrator . FSG/Foster $16 (40p) ISBN 978-0-374-32147-5
Reviewed on: 01/07/2002
Release date: 03/01/2002
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"My sister Emily was buried today," begins this wisp of a picture book, part thumbnail biography and part miniature poetry anthology. For the next several pages, a mournful Lavinia reminisces about her reclusive sister ("Emily never went anywhere. Townsfolk thought her strange"), roots through her dresser ("Here are the dresses she wore—only white—in summer and winter") and ultimately discovers a cache of poems ("There must be hundreds!"). The remainder of the book offers up a selection of Dickinson's best-known and perhaps most approachable work, beginning with "This is my letter to the World/ That never wrote to Me—" and including "There is no Frigate like a Book/ To take us Lands away" and "I'm Nobody! Who are you?/ Are you—Nobody—Too?" Verses about nature predominate ("A Spider sewed at Night/ Without a Light/ Upon an Arc of White"), but Winter does not shy away from more metaphysical themes ("Exultation is the going/ Of an inland soul to sea,/ Past the houses—past the headlands—/ Into deep Eternity—"). With her trademark folk art style, Winter demurely dresses the pages in shades of lavenders, periwinkle and soft green. The scanty biographical information may leave the curious wanting more, but this is nevertheless a visually pleasing introduction to Dickinson and her work. Pair this with Elizabeth Spires's The Mouse of Amherst for a more complete picture of the poet. Ages 5-up. (Mar.)

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