“The masterful marriage of relatable storytelling and dreamy yet bold illustrations introduces young readers to a Dickinson they’ll love.”
In the spirit of biographies for children that focus on acquainting young readers with the character of a person rather than on ensuring every known fact is presented, Emily Writes introduces readers to how Emily Dickinson may have been as a young girl. Emily “writes” a poem on a “chance slip” of paper in “curlicues and circles,” and shows it first to her father (who dismisses her), Mrs. Mack (who encourages and shares “the crumbles of last night’s coconut cake” with her), her mother (who entreats her “Not so loud,” as she reclines in bed) and finally the great outdoors. Inspired by another “chance slip”—an envelope this time—Emily is again encouraged by Mrs. Mack with a rhyme Dickinson aficionados (or reader’s of the author’s note) will find special significance in. Yolen’s note at the end is insightful and adds historical substance to the framework of the story for aspiring Dickinson fans, providing a sense for the real history conveyed in this glimpse of an afternoon, which is of itself delightful. The focus on sibling relationships, busy adult and loving mentors, a poem that a child could perhaps write themselves and an understanding of emotions that is still developing (“Mother, who made her feel rainy,” “The garden makes her feel all sunny.”) is utterly relatable. Davenier’s illustrations are simultaneously realistic and dream-like, with crayon-like scribbles for shadows, and fit beautifully with Dickenson’s personal smudgy and messy handwriting style.
Jane Yolen (hailed as the “Aesop of the twentieth century”) has written more than 350 books, won numerous awards, and received six honorary doctorates in literature. She lives outside Springﬁeld, Massachusetts, where a bear really did visit her porch.
To the three women who share my Emily passion: daughter Heidi, granddaughter Maddison, and editor Christy Ottaviano; and with thanks to Jane Wald of the Emily Dickinson Museum, who read my manuscript and gave me (as always) astute comments
As a young girl growing up in Tours, France, Christine Davenier loved listening to her older sister read fairy tales aloud. But she frequently found herself wondering, What does the princess’s beautiful dress look like? or How exquisite are her jewels? Christine was left to her own imagination, for the books had few illustrations. So it comes as little surprise that today, Christine embraces her career as an illustrator. “I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to create the illustrations I dreamed about seeing as a child,” she says. When Christine was fourteen, she received her first box of watercolor paints, a gift from her grandmother. That was the beginning of many afternoons spent painting together in her grandmother’s garden. “My grandmother was an extraordinary woman,” Christine says. “Even though she worked in an office all her life, she was an artist through and through. She shared everything she knew about color—in painting and in life. Her wisdom and talent still inspire me today.” She has illustrated many picture books, including The Other Dog by Madeline L’Engle and The Very Fairy Princess series by Julie Andrews and Emma Walton Hamilton. Christine lives in Paris, France.
For my dear Judy Sue, who made me discover Emily Dickinson
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