Friday, May 15, 2009
My Uncle Emily
Yolen, Jane. 2009. My Uncle Emily. Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. Penguin.
It's always refreshing to see unique picture books. In the case of My Uncle Emily, we have a picture book about Emily Dickinson in her role as an aunt and a poet. Here's how the book starts off, "One day when we were in the garden, choosing flowers for the table, my Uncle Emily gave me a dead bee and a poem for my teacher. Sometimes Uncle Emily is like that, as if she wants me to see the world one small bee and one small poem at a time."
Our young hero is a young boy (school-age) Gilbert. He's a bit nervous about taking a bee and a poem to school the next day. But since "Uncle Emily" wrote the poem just for that reason: just to share with him and his classmates. Go he must. But will they understand? Will they think he's weird?
The Bumble Bee's Religion
His little Hearse-like Figure
Unto itself a Dirge
To a delusive Lilac...
(You can read the rest here.)
So he does share his aunt's gifts with others. And all seems to go well. Until. Until recess. When a boy teases him about his "reckless" aunt. (He meant 'recluse'). Now Gilbert is a boy with a limp going home, proud that he defended his aunt, but wishing and hoping that no one notices his limp, hoping that he doesn't have to tell the truth about what happened that day in school.
Should he tell the truth? Did he do the right thing?
I liked this one. I liked it better without reading the author's note. But that's because I like to block out reality at times. I think this is a lovely book. I enjoyed the illustrations by Nancy Carpenter.
© Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews
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