cover image Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty

Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty

Linda Glaser, , illus. by Claire A. Nivola. . Houghton Mifflin, $16 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-547-17184-5

Emma Lazarus (1849–1887) was a child of privilege. But her dedication to the impoverished refugees who shared her Jewish faith transcended the conventions of class and gender (“At that time in the 1880s people believed that a fine lady like Emma should not mingle with poor people”), and inspired her to create the poem found on the pedestal of the Statue of Liberty. Her now familiar words—“Give me your tired, your poor”—transformed it from its original intent, as a gift of friendship from France, into a symbol, a promise of hope and refuge for immigrants. Glaser's (Hoppy Hanukkah! ) concise narration, reminiscent of blank verse, may feel a little chilly at first glance, but her authorial restraint actually helps readers make a more direct connection to the still-radical spirit behind the poem's ornate, distancing language. Nivola (Planting the Trees of Kenya ), however, may be a little too close to Glaser's aesthetic to make this book wholly satisfying. The flattened perspectives and tidy delicacy of her watercolor and gouache paintings tend to dampen the story's emotional urgency. Ages 5–8. (Apr.)