Emily Writes: Emily Dickinson and Her Poetic Beginnings
Emily Writes: Emily Dickinson and Her Poetic Beginnings

Emily Writes: Emily Dickinson and Her Poetic Beginnings

Written by Jane Yolen & illustrated by Christine Davenier
4 - 8
Reading age
Page count
Feb 4, 2020
Publication date

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What Does Bookroo Think of This Book

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.

What Kind of Book is Emily Writes: Emily Dickinson and Her Poetic Beginnings


writingfemale role modelshistorystrong female charactersfamily lifegirls and women19th centurychildhoodpoets

Writing Styles

What Questions Should I Ask My Child

  • Emily Dickinson is currently a world-renowned poet, but she started off small. Can you come up with any three word poems, similar to Emily's?
  • Emily has some relationships in her life that are supportive and some that are less so. Who do you have in your life who encourages and supports you?


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The Creatives Behind the Book

What Has Jane Yolen Said About This Book

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What Has Christine Davenier Said About This Book

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Book Details

Publication Date
February 4, 2020
Henry Holt and Co (BYR)
Illustration Details
The artist used Ecoline and Colorex ink on keacolor paper to create the artwork for this book.
Page Count
Reading Age
4 - 8 years
Lib. of Congress (LCCN)
WorldCat Number (OCLC)

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Core Score - 45%

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