cover image The Emily Sonnets: The Life of Emily Dickinson

The Emily Sonnets: The Life of Emily Dickinson

Jane Yolen, illus. by Gary Kelley. Creative Editions, $19.99 (40p) ISBN 978-1-56846-215-8

These 16 sonnets grew out of Yolen's lifelong love for Dickinson, who is a neighbor of sorts%E2%80%94her ancestral home is near Yolen's. Written in the voices of Dickinson, her sister, and others, the sonnets are true to Dickinson's sharp eye and quick wit: "There my father, pure and terrible, did call upon his God,/ Who was like him, both a Puritan and grim." Kelley (And the Soldiers Sang) contributes handsome, substantial portraits that convey the solitude and quiet in which Dickinson passed her days. One spread shows the poet reading peaceably in her garden, an apple in her hand, dog at her side; on the title page, she looks directly at readers, her face full of intelligence. Yolen (The Life of Marc Chagall in Verse) supplies a detailed afterword with context and charming anecdotes to accompany each sonnet. (For example, Dickinson once smuggled a box of illicit maple candy to her brother's children with a note instructing, "Omit to return box. Omit to know you received box.") Austere and sharply observant, these sonnets will appeal most to those who already love the poet's work. Ages 11%E2%80%93up. (Nov.)