Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Poetry for Kids: Emily Dickinson

I was intrigued by the Poetry for Kids premier title Emily Dickinson. Edited by Susan Snively and with colorwashed illustrations by Christine Davenier, the volume presents 35 of Dickinson's poems. The poems are grouped seasonally, starting with summer and ending with spring.

Poems include easily accessible favorites such as "A narrow fellow in the grass," "A bird came down the walk," and "I never saw a moor", the whimsical, and those celebrating nature.

Some selections surprised me. "He fumbles at your spirit" talks about "prepares your brittle substance/For the etheral blow" and "Deals with one imperial thunderbolt/That scalps your naked soul." It is the line 'scalps your naked soul' that makes the poem so forceful and wrenching. The commentary reads, "The poet captures the noisy music of a thunderstorm, as if trapped inside a huge piano. The sounds heightens the drama, until the thunderbolt delivers its mighty blow."

Poems dealing with darker feelings, like "There's a certain slant of light", and mortaility and death, including "Because I could not stop for death" and "Safe in their alabaster chambers," are poems that seem very serious for small children to tackle. In the publisher's note, Charles Nurnberg states that "the emotion and mood of poetry, even when it is almost too hard to understand, is so essentilal to undertanding the world around us." Thinking about this, I realize that learning about life through these beautiful poems allows children to gain understanding about difficult things they will encounter through personal experience and through the everpresent media.

Each poem includes word definitions and a brief commentary "What Emily Was Thinking." The forward includes a synopsis of the poet's life and publishing history.

The book is for children grades 3 through 7.

Upcoming titles will include Carl Sandburg and Walt Whitman.

I received a free ebook from the publisher through Edelweiss in exchange for a fair and unbiased review.

A word is dead
When it is said
Some say.
I saw it just
Begins to live
That day.
by Emily Dickinson

Emily Dickinson
Poetry for Kids series
Moon Dance Press
$14.95 hard cover
ISBN: 9781633221178

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