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Emily Dickinson's Letters to the World

Press:Farrar Straus & Giroux Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); 1st edition (March 19, 2002)
Publication Date:20020319
Author Name:Winter, Jeanette/ Dickinson, Emily


A captivating introduction to Emily DickinsonThe poet Emily Dickinson was unknown and mostly unpublished during her lifetime (1830–86). 
When she died, her sister, Lavinia, discovered the 1,775 poems Emily Dickinson left behind – her “letters to the world.” Jeanette Winter tells the story of the discovery of these poems and has selected twenty-one that speak most directly to children, surrounding them with vibrant paintings.
With a specifically designed typeface inspired by Emily Dickinson’s handwriting, this small book, which is about the size of some of the paper on which Emily wrote, is a gem.

From School Library Journal

Grades 2-5--The reclusive American poet is revealed through 21 of her poems in this small-format picture book. 
Told from the point of view of her sister Lavinia, who discovered almost 1800 of Dickinson's precious poems after her death, the story provides only snippets of the poet's enigmatic life: her refusal to leave the family's Amherst home, her fanatical love of words, and her dying as a virtual unknown.
However, the selection of poems-Emily's "letters"-gives insight into her thoughts on a variety of topics, ranging from nature ("Snowflakes") to the secrets of the heart ("Have you got a Brook in your little heart-") to her distaste at the thought of fame ("I'm Nobody! Who are you?").
Winter's paintings use all-white backgrounds to illustrate the facts of her story, but when readers step into the world of Dickinson's imaginative mind and intense poetic spirit, the illustrator switches to color-filled backgrounds, with the full or partial figure of the poet ever-present.
Here the strong images of the subjects of the poems clearly take precedence, and, as with Winter's illustrations in Follow the Drinking Gourd (Knopf, 1992), her simplistic style manages to accentuate the depth behind the words.
Naturally, these gems beg to be read aloud, and they are sure to provoke discussions about their meaning and the powerful images they suggest.
Pair this title with Michael Bedard's Emily (Doubleday, 1992) for a fuller introduction to this brilliant poet.Nancy Menaldi-Scanlan, LaSalle Academy, Providence, RICopyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

In earlier titles such as My Name Is Georgia (1998), about Georgia O'Keeffe, and Sebastian (1999), about Bach, Winter offered wholly engaging biographies that were easily accessible to children.
In this latest effort, she blends biographical facts and a collection of Dickinson's work, with mixed results.
Written in the voice of Dickinson's sister, the introductory lines tell a few details about the poet in simple, compelling language, describing where she wrote, her penchant for white dresses, her reluctance to leave home.
Then Dickinson's sister discovers the poems, which make up the remainder of the book.
Several whole selections will appeal to young children, and images in others ("The moon was but a chin of gold") will also spark interest.
But most selections are abstract and filled with difficult words and mature concerns.
The small, square format and bright, spare, spring-colored paintings suggest a young readership, but the most likely audience for this will be teens and adults able to grasp the full complexity of Dickinson's work.
Gillian EngbergCopyright © American Library Association.
All rights reserved


"A quick but complex taste of a  quick but complex poet . 
This small tribute effectively captures a sense of Dickinson's precise language and wide-open imagination.
Great potential as a keepsake and a lovely introduction for younger readers." --Kirkus Reviews

About the Author

Jeanette Winter is the author and illustrator of many notable books for children, including My Baby and My Name Is Georgia. 
She lives in New York City.


Children's Books,Biographies,Literary,Literature & Fiction,Poetry

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Comment List (Total:7)

  •     The pictures in this book are vivid and appealing, and the selection of poems is very well-done. The poems included in the book feature striking images and simple language that will appeal to children.I agree with other reviewers that the "biography" portion is a little flat and doesn't give much information at all about the poet--but it's enough to whet the appetite of a young reader who may want to seek out more detailed sources to learn more about Emily Dickinson.For a parent who wants to read some good poetry aloud with their child, this is just right.

  •     I purchased several copies of this book. I gave one to my granddaugther and one to a friend. This is a sweet introduction to the poems of Emily Dickinson and makes her a real person to a child.

  •     "My sister Emily was buried today..." So begins Jeanette Winter's very brief biography of poet, Emily Dickinson. Narrated by her sister, Lavinia, as she cleans out Emily's room, we learn just a few small facts about the elusive poet. She was a recluse who lived in the smallest upstairs room of the family's house. She loved words, studied the dictionary, and spent all her time writing on scraps of paper. She wore only white dresses, and most townfolk thought her strange. After her death, Lavinia finds drawers full of those scraps of paper, Emily's "letters to the world," and Ms Winter fills the rest of this small volume with a selection of 21 poems, some famous...There Is No Frigate Like A Book, I'm Nobody! Who Are You?, and If I Can Stop One Heart From Breaking, and others less recognizable to complete her story. Her vibrant illustrations, done in an engaging folk art sytle, complement the text and enhances each poem beautifully. Though a bit light on biographical material, Emily Dickinson's Letters To The World is a simple and intriguing introduction to a remarkable poet that should open interesting discussions and whet the appetite of youngsters 7 and older, and send them out looking for more.

  •     One of my favorite poets. Once I read this, will be donating to a local grammar school : )

  •     Beautiful poems. Beautiful illustrations. 5 stars.

  •     It was a wonderful idea, but I was disappointed by the book. In my view the illustrations are stylized, sterile, and off-putting - you can see if you agree with me by enlarging the cover and taking a look at it - , the graphic design and color patterns produced visual clutter, and the poems are in not-easy-to-read stylized italics. But what prompted me to comment was the alteration of language of at least one, and I suspect more than one, of the poems. The eight-line poem I checked begins: "I'm nobody. Who are you?" In Ms. Winter's book line four of this poem substitutes "advertise" for "banish us," line six substitutes "frog" for "fog," and line seven substitutes "June" for "day." As you can see for yourself, these changes degrade the poem. I suppose this is considered legitimate bowdlerization, given the audience. I don't agree. In any event the author and editors were remiss in failing to include a notice that at least one of the poems was altered.

  •     I loved this. A quick peaceful read for an adult. Interesting pictures for adults and children. Poignant. It is nice to have a short book of poetry instead of something cumbersome.


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