On Wings of Words: The Extraordinary Life of Emily Dickinson

Jennifer Berne, illus. by Becca Stadtlander. Chronicle, $18.99 (52p) ISBN 978-1-4521-4297-5
Butterflies flutter through this exploration of Emily Dickinson’s singular spirit, a visual leitmotif that mirrors her slantwise sensibility. Berne’s finely chosen words echo Dickinson’s poetic proclivities: “In a little room—in the dark before dawn—/ a baby girl was born./ Her parents celebrated the holiday/ they called Emily.” She paints a picture of a curious child who, as she grows, finds her own way to make sense of a world holding both trouble and joy. “Everywhere she looked,/ she was told to obey without asking,/ to believe without knowing why./ So she began to put her faith in/ what she could see and understand.” Lines from Dickinson’s poems punctuate Berne’s text, reflecting themes of nature, wonder, and joy. Stadtlander’s modern folkloric gouache and watercolor illustrations seamlessly merge realism and fantasy, capturing fine details such as floral-sprigged fabrics and rendering whimsical scenes like a miniature Emily astride a grasshopper in a sunset sky. Ages 5–8. (Feb.)
Reviewed on : 01/02/2020
Release date: 02/18/2020
Genre: Children's
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