Sleuthing with Emily Dickinson

25 Jun

I have never really read Emily Dickinson. She wasn’t much part of the syllabus in my Canadian education. I knew of her for sure and have come across her poetry and references to her as an adult. So, it seems both strange and exciting  that two books for middle grade readers feature Emily Dickinson and her poetry.

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Destiny, Rewritten by Kathryn Fitzmaurice is the tale of Emily Elizabeth, named after Emily Dickinson. From before her birth her mother, an Emily Dickinson scholar, predicted her daughter would be a great poet. She recorded details about Emily in a volume of her collected works, annotating poems with events in Emily’s life.  Emily, on the other hand, is obsessed with Danielle Steele and wants to be a romance writer, not a poet. When the Emily Dickinson volume is accidentally sent to a resale shop, Emily is on the trail, trying to track it down.

A murder mystery is the subject of Nobody’s Secret  by Michaela MacColl. The sleuth is a young and pre-recluse Emily Dickinson. Teenaged Emily meets a young man who later turns up dead in her pond. She does not know his identity because, when they met, they did not tell each other their name, preferring to be Nobodies. It is Emily Dickinson alone who believes his death is not an accidental drowning and she pursues the truth, even when the adults around her tell her to stop. MacColl incorporates ideas from Dickinson’s poetry into her narrative, creating plausible inspirations for their origins.

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