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Emily Dickinson's Letters to the World

by Jeanette Winter

Published by Frances Foster Books / Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2002
32 pages
ISBN: 0-374-32147-7

Ages 6 - 10

The narrator of Winter's attractive small volume is Emily's sister Lavinia. It's Lavinia who discovered most of the 1,700 unpublished poems her sister had written. She found them after Emily died in 1886. Necessary facts unfold in Lavinia's voice. "Emily's room was the smallest in the house . . . She never went anywhere. Townsfolk thought her strange." She wore only white dresses all year round. The light in her bedroom burned brightly, sometimes all night. What had she been doing? Children can glimpse some of what she had been doing in her house and garden, and at her writing table, by sampling one or more of the 21 brief poems included here. They'll find Emily's "letter to the world." They can also discover "I'm Nobody" and "to make a prairie" and "there is no frigate like a book." The poems are reprinted in a different lettering than that of the narrative to make it easy for children to distinguish Dickinson's poems from Winter's concise narrative. Some children will be intrigued by the facts alone. There's time for the youngest to grow into her poems. Just as Dickinson's original papers were small in size, this book is small by most standards. Winter's expressive paintings swirl round the narrative and the poems. Both leave a large, lasting impression. CCBC Categories: Poetry  © Cooperative Children's Book Center

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