Sunday, September 07, 2014

Miss Emily

Muten, Burleigh and Phelan, Matt Miss Emily.
Candlewick (March 25, 2014)
Copy from YABC and reviewed there.

Neighbors Mac, Ned and Mattie see Miss Emily out in her garden, and she has wonderful news-- the circus is coming to town on the train, and she wants to sneak out at night to see all of the animals and performers arrive. Will they come with her? What small child wouldn't, especially if you are the minister's son, as Mac is? Ned and Mattie trust their aunt, so why not? The four meet up and night and travel to the station with Carlo, Miss Emily's dog, and are enthralled with the spectacle. In order to try to escape detection (what a scandal it would be if they were caught out at night!), they run home, and Mac trips and injures his ankle. Miss Emily takes him home and confesses to being the culprit behind the outing, and Mac is allowed to go to the circus even though he must remain inactive for two weeks while his sprain heals. The group also gets together a "circus" of their own to perform for their dear, if eccentric, neighbor.
Strengths: Emily Dickinson is probably the most appealing United States poet, and the myths and legends about her make her a tremendously sympathetic character. This would be a good introduction both to the poet's life and to her work. I know that when I was in middle school, I purchased a volume of her poems. They are short, and accessible to younger readers, which might be why they continue to be so popular. Even without the connection to the poet, this is a gentle adventure that reads a lot like the moral tales that were written at the time Dickinson lived. Perhaps readers of this can be encouraged to pick up Alcott afterwards!
Weaknesses: Since Dickinson's style is so easily imitated, I'm a bit surprised that the book is written in free verse and not in in short stanzas with Dickinson's half rhymes. As with many books for younger readers, I didn't see the appeal to the target demographic for this one.

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