MR. EMERSON'S COOK by Judith Byron Schachner


Age Range: 6 - 8
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Schachner (Willy and May, 1995, etc.) presents Ralph Waldo Emerson and his world through the eyes of his Irish cook (and the author’s ancestor), Annie Burns. Upon arriving in the US, Annie answers an advertisement for “an extraordinary cook” to feed an “acclaimed poet and philosopher who has stopped eating due to an overactive imagination.” When she arrives at the farm, Annie is met by chickens wearing tiny boots (the work of Henry David Thoreau), and realizes she’s in for an unusual experience. The differences between immigrant Annie’s tough, sensible constitution and Emerson’s dreamy, thoughtful disposition are made clear, but not recklessly so: “Once I had a dream. An angel offered me the world in the size and shape of an apple. ‘This thou must eat,’ said the angel, and I ate the world,” Emerson tells Annie, who responds, “The last time I ate an apple, sir, ‘twas merely an apple.” Living on the Emerson farm opens up her creative side, and little by little Annie’s literal take on the world changes. A token from home, reminding her of the fanciful musings of childhood, inspires her to create a dish Emerson will eat. Annie’s transformation is full of poetic imagery and whirling lines; readers will become swept up in this fascinating story of self-discovery that also perfectly captures the great poet’s nature. An informative afterword gives Emerson’s and Annie’s backgrounds. (Picture book. 6-8)

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1998
ISBN: 0-525-45884-0
Page count: 32pp
Publisher: Dutton
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15th, 1998


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