Book review: Poetry for Kids: Emily Dickinson

I was lucky enough to snag a copy of the gorgeous, brand-new Poetry for Kids: Emily Dickinson from Quarto Publishing. If you love poetry and art–or heck, just appreciate thoughtful contemplation of the seasons–check out this book.

Divided into seasons, 35 of Dickinson’s nature poems edited by Dickinson expert Susan Snively dance among beautiful ink-and-watercolor illustrations by Christine Davenier. Classics such as “Hope is the thing with feathers” and “There’s a certain slant of light,” as well as lesser-known poems, are celebrated with bright, lively flowers, insects, birds, and children dancing, reading, cloud-gazing, and running in tall grass (while a snake slithers in the foreground); my only complaint would be the lack of people of color in the paintings with human characters.

Definitions of challenging words, such as “troubadour” or “pensive,” appear in unobtrusive, italicized text near the bottom of each page (thank goodness poems are not marred with asterisks).

At the end of the book, two pages titled “What Emily Was Thinking” offer short summaries of each poem, providing not only context (“A cricket’s song helps the sun finish its daily work”) but also simple explanations about how the poem’s craft affects our understanding (“The poem’s gentle rhymes…create a hymn of farewell”).

This lovely book, a wonderful gift for budding poets, is also appealing for teachers to encourage students’ careful observation and inspiration to write—and paint—our world.

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