A warm portrait that even those unfamiliar with the iconic poet will likely enjoy.



The imagined events of one day in the early life of Emily Dickinson foreshadow her future creations.

Yolen sets the stage with an opening caption announcing it’s “spring 1834, Amherst, Massachusetts.” Young Emily, a smiling, round-headed child, takes scraps of paper from beneath her father’s desk, scribbles on them, and tries to share the results. Largely ignored by her father, she finds Mrs. Mack, a friendly woman busy in the kitchen, to be more receptive. Mrs. Mack listens to Emily’s poem “Frog and bog!” and pronounces it “A very good rhyme indeed.” After a trip upstairs to see her mother and baby sister, Emily ventures outside to share her words with the flowers and revel in the beauties of nature. Re-entering the house, Emily finds an envelope that prompts her to start thinking of rhymes again. Line breaks in most sentences and the way the text blocks are placed on the pages give the appearance of poetry. Although relatively lengthy, the text moves along smoothly with plenty of appealing turns of phrase and engaging images. Davenier’s lively illustrations, created with watercolor ink, vary in size and placement. Lightly sketched settings and period details offer some context. The author’s note fills in a few details while acknowledging that little is known about Dickinson’s childhood. The appended poems relate to words and ideas that appear in the story.

A warm portrait that even those unfamiliar with the iconic poet will likely enjoy. (bibliography) (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Feb. 4, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-12808-9

Page Count: 40

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Dec. 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Natural history from decidedly offbeat angles.


Wielding crayons and broad, inked brushes, a Finnish artist offers freestyle images of 26 wild animals of land and sea.

The free-verse poetic flights (or Jeremiah’s translations) that Järvinen pairs to each of Merz’s animal portraits are technically accurate but sound fanciful: “Here comes the multi-purpose marvel of the jungle, / Elephant and TRUNK!” And: “The bear combs through the ant hill with its big paws / and pops its occupants into his mouth.” Sharing a like disregard for the conventional approach, the art, inspired (as the artist explains) by dim childhood memories rather than actual models, is largely composed of semi-abstract jumbles of geometric shapes and shadowy blobs, disconnected or oddly jointed limbs rendered with a few quick strokes, and scribbles or washes of thin primary hues. The creatures are largely unrecognizable without the printed cues adjacent, but the overall effect is one of lively activity, with occasional surprises, such as a clump of sinuous, scary-looking jellyfish on a vivid blue background—think H.P. Lovecraft à la Henri Matisse—and a trio of polar bears, two of which are pitch black (as polar bears are, beneath their fur), to give viewers pause. Leading questions or suggestions at each poem’s end (“Have you tried walking like a camel?”) will provoke further reactions from fledgling animal lovers. (This book was reviewed digitally with 9.8-by-24-inch double-page spreads viewed at 52% of actual size.)

Natural history from decidedly offbeat angles. (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-63206-268-0

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Yonder

Review Posted Online: June 3, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 15, 2020

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

Effectively soporific, though less broadly diverse in culture than casting.



Intricate cut-paper borders and figures accompany a set of sleepy-time lyrics and traditional rhymes.

Aside from “All the Pretty Little Ponies,” which is identified as “possibly African American,” the selections are a mostly Eurocentric sampling. It’s a mix of familiar anonymous rhymes (“Oh, how lovely is the evening,” “Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, / Bless this bed that I lie on”) and verses from known authors, including Jane Taylor’s “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star” (first verse only), Robert Louis Stevenson’s “My Bed is a Boat,” and Rudyard Kipling’s “The White Seal’s Lullaby.” Melodramatic lullabies such as “Rockabye Baby” have been excluded in favor of more pacifistic poems, and in keeping with the cozy tone (though she does show one cat looming hungrily over a mouse hole), Dalton enfolds each entry in delicately detailed sprays of leaves or waves, graceful garlands of flowers, flights of butterflies, and tidy arrangements of natural or domestic items, all set against black or dark backgrounds that intensify the soft colors. A parade of young people—clad in nightclothes and diverse of facial features, hair color and texture, and skin hue—follow a childlike, white angel on the endpapers and pose drowsily throughout.

Effectively soporific, though less broadly diverse in culture than casting. (Picture book/poetry. 6-8)

Pub Date: July 11, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-4521-1673-0

Page Count: 32

Publisher: Chronicle Books

Review Posted Online: April 17, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2017

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet