Books by Frances Schoonmaker

EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY by Frances Schoonmaker
Released: Feb. 1, 2000

As a bare introduction to Millay's poetry, this entry in the Poetry for Young People series is adequate, but should not be a substitute for other biographies or analyses of her work. Schoonmaker (Carl Sandburg, 1995) has written a four-page introduction to Millay's life before arranging a selection of more than 30 poems. In the narrative of Millay's childhood she includes many good details of her life at home (with a long explanation of her name, Vincent), but is silent on the topic of Millay's "bohemian" adult life, and more importantly, how the unconventional views of her poetry gave voice to the young generation of the roaring 20s. She reports that Millay's wealthy husband was a feminist, but not that Millay was, and offers no explanation of how her poetry reflected her strong convictions. In fact, although the book includes a good assortment of Millay's poetry, the format allows for almost no interpretation, particularly of the more "adult" poems that are include, e.g., "First Fig," and "Second Fig." Even if Schoonmaker chose not to venture into the charged territory of Millay's sexuality, there's no indication of how small verses such as these expressed in two lines the explosion of new freedoms for women. By placing the poems into safe, pastel-colored, greeting-card context, she leaves readers with a false portrait of who the poet was. (Poetry. 9-12) Read full book review >
POETRY FOR YOUNG PEOPLE by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Released: March 1, 1999

Presented in picture book format, this unfocused collection of poems and extracts from this 19th-century poet gathers up a few chestnuts, but also (unintentionally and unjustly) suggests ample reason to avoid the rest of his oeuvre. Preceded by a dense introduction, the more accessible selections—"The Arrow and the Song," the ever-charming "Children's Hour," and the wonderfully lurid "Wreck of The Hesperus"—are scattered gems among such deadening material as "Woods In Winter" ("with solemn feet I tread the hill,/That overbrows the lonely vale"), "A Psalm Of Life," and "Hymn To The Night" ("Peace! Peace! Orestes-like I breathe this prayer!"). In addition, "Evangeline" is represented by a mere six lines, and even "Paul Revere's Ride" is incomplete. Painting in a realistic style, Wallace shows more facility depicting landscapes than people. Even though Longfellow's famous poems are readily available elsewhere, few readers—after plowing through this uninspired handful—will feel an urge to read more. (Poetry. 9-14) Read full book review >