Tag Archives: Emily Dickinson

Happy 185th birthday, Emily Dickinson!

10 Dec


Emily Dickinson was born on December 10, 1830, in Amherst, Massachusetts. Throughout her life, she seldom left her home and visitors were few. She has, however, made it into several books, for young people of all ages.

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The Soul selects her own Society —
Then — shuts the Door —
To her divine Majority —
Present no more —

Unmoved — she notes the Chariots — pausing —
At her low Gate —
Unmoved — an Emperor be kneeling
Upon her Mat —

I’ve known her — from an ample nation —
Choose One —
Then — close the Valves of her attention —
Like Stone —

c. 1862


Feathers and ferris wheels

25 Jul


I always like to support local authors and I recently discovered a new one, Robin Herrera, who has published her first book, Hope is a Ferris Wheel. 

The main character, Star, is a quirky kid. She has recently moved to California from Oregon, lives in a trailer park and has layered blue hair that her classmates call a mullet. To make friends she starts a club. It starts as a Trailer Park Club, but turns into an Emily Dickinson club. I wasn’t sure if I was going to enjoy this books at first. Star is an odd duck and her life situation is a little depressing. Thank goodness the book is about HOPE because I don;t think I could have finished to without hope. Hope in a happy ending, ope that Star will make friends. One of the real strengths of the book is Star’s relationship with her older sister Winter. Winter has her own set of issues, but she is so supportive of Star I could almost get weepy talking about it.

 The book talks about some tough family issues, so I’m not sure if I would recommend it as a read aloud. There are tough issues, but Star is in 5th grade, making it a tough sell to older kids and a bit mature for some upper elementary readers. However, I believe there are a lot of ways it could be used to encourage kids to write, especially if someone were to read it during a poetry unit. There is the obvious inspiration of Emily Dickinson and specifically her “Hope is the thing with feathers” poem, which really get the club rolling. I had the idea that it would be fun to run an after school  poetry club for kids. Or maybe for teachers. We could all use a little more poetry in our lives.

Hope” is the thing with feathers
by Emily Dickinson
“Hope” is the thing with feathers –
That perches in the soul –
And sings the tune without the words –
And never stops – at all –
And sweetest – in the Gale – is heard –
And sore must be the storm –
That could abash the little Bird
That kept so many warm –
I’ve heard it in the chillest land –
And on the strangest Sea –
Yet – never – in Extremity,
It asked a crumb – of me.

Seasonal Poetry for Poetry Season

7 Apr

It is April, and it is poetry season. What better time to look at poems about seasons.


Koo the panda, along with Jon Muth, present this delightful collection of haiku.Twenty-six haiku celebrate the unique natural wonders of each of the four seasons in this charming picture book. Some of the verses will prompt smiles while others will bring readers up short and gently nudge them to look at things from a different perspective. The watercolor illustrations are as expressive as the poems.


Firefly July and Other Very Short Poems selected by Paul B. Janeczko and illustrated by Melissa Sweet, looks out over a year in very short poems.


The poets in this collection range from Emily Dickinson and William Carlos Williams  to the unfortunately named Adelaide Crapsey (creator of the cinquain) and former poet laureate Ted Kooser.

There is much to love here. The selection of poems is a place to start. Each of the 30+ little gems can be enjoyed for its own sake. Couple with Melissa Sweet’s illustrations, they are astounding. As a reader, I want to linger with each poem, think of what I would illustrate, want to memorize that poem so I can share it at just the right time.


If you are nervous about poetry, start with one of these two books. They will ease you in. If you are already a fan, just simply enjoy.

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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