A Home for Mr. Emerson

( 1 )


From the award-winning creators of THOSE REBELS, JOHN & TOM, a joyful portrait of an American icon and an inspiring blueprint for how to live your life.

"All life is an experiment.
The more experiments you make the better."

Before Ralph Waldo Emerson was a great writer, he was a city boy who longed for the broad, open fields and deep, still woods of the country, and then a young man who treasured books, ...

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From the award-winning creators of THOSE REBELS, JOHN & TOM, a joyful portrait of an American icon and an inspiring blueprint for how to live your life.

"All life is an experiment.
The more experiments you make the better."

Before Ralph Waldo Emerson was a great writer, he was a city boy who longed for the broad, open fields and deep, still woods of the country, and then a young man who treasured books, ideas, and people. When he grew up and set out in the world, he wondered, could he build a life around these things he loved?

This moving biography--presented with Barbara Kerley and Edwin Fotheringham's inimitable grace and style--illustrates the rewards of a life well-lived, one built around personal passions: creativity and community, nature and friendship.

May it inspire you to experiment and build the life you dream of living.

A 2014 Parents' Choice Gold Award Winner for Picture Books
A 2015 Orbis Pictus Honor Book

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 12/02/2013
The team behind What to Do About Alice?, The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy), and Those Rebels, John & Tom continue their tradition of excellent and exuberant studies of historical figures with a theatrical story about writer Ralph Waldo Emerson’s relationship with his beloved Concord, Mass., home and community. Fotheringham pours visual variety onto the pages: in one image, Emerson contentedly reads while encircled by a whirlwind of books; on an especially powerful wordless spread, Emerson stands in shadow before the burning ruins of his estate, which caught fire in 1872. Well-sourced quotations appear throughout the story (and fill the endpapers), both contextualizing Emerson’s life and standing as testament to the value of an open mind and a generous heart. Appended materials offer additional details about Emerson and encourage readers to “choose the life you create for yourself,” as he did. Ages 8–12. Illustrator’s agent: Pat Hackett. (Feb.)
From the Publisher


Sibert Honor Book
Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book

"Kerley reveals the essence of Alice in an upbeat account of her life."--THE NEW YORK TIMES

*"Spectacular art."--BOOKLIST, starred review

*"A gleeful celebration."--KIRKUS REVIEWS, starred review


Washington Post Best Book for Young Readers
New York Public Library Best Children's Book

*"A masterfully perceptive and largely visual biography . . . dynamic and lovely . . . a joy to peruse."--SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, starred review.

"A great new book."--THE NEW YORK TIMES

*"Accessible and inventive."--PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred review


NCTE Orbus Pictus Honor Book
NAPPA Gold Award Winner

*"Witty and wise."--PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred review

*"Fun, energetic . . . clever . . . skillful . . . a terrific book to lead the charge in learning about the Revolution."--BOOKLIST, starred review

Children's Literature - Jean Boreen
This over-sized book focused on Ralph Waldo Emerson and his life with his family and friends in Concord, Massachusetts from the 1830’s through the 1870’s fits well the amazing writer and thinker who helped guide the Transcendentalist movement in America. Using actual quotes from a number of Emerson’s books and diaries, the author provides readers with a strong sense of the person Ralph Waldo Emerson was and why the community of Concord was so important to his writing and his sense of identity, both personal and American. For example, Emerson’s admonition that: “Every spirit builds itself a house, and beyond its house a world…Build therefore your own world.” beautifully illustrates Emerson’s goals for himself and his family as citizens of Concord. The illustrations for this book are colorful yet realistic and bring a good sense of the historical aspects of Emerson’s story—his home, Concord, his travels—both domestic and abroad—and his family. This type of book, of which the author and illustrator have a great track record creating, is a perfect set-up for younger readers to learn about great American writers who they should then be interested in reading more about and eventually delving into the texts these people wrote. This book is a great choice for elementary libraries. Reviewer: Jean Boreen, Ph.D.; Ages 6 to 12.
School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—This introduction to the life of Ralph Waldo Emerson will help readers begin to understand the thoughts and values of this great American thinker. Emerson grows up in Boston, but yearns to make a life closer to nature where he can surround himself with books and friends. He finds a perfect home in Concord, Massachusetts, where he and his wife raise a family. Emerson eagerly becomes a part of the community, even playing the role of hog reeve, gathering up the town's runaway pigs. After collecting his thoughts in journals, Emerson begins traveling across the country to lecture, attracting visitors from around the world to his doorstep. A house fire later in his life devastates Emerson, but allows the town to demonstrate their affection for him as they rebuild his home. Emerson, who is likely little known to younger students, is brought to life in an approachable biography. The colorful depictions of Emerson are warm, cheerful, and full of movement. Children will love the cartoonlike illustrations that make Emerson seem like a superhero as he dives into oversized books and flies through the sky on another giant tome. Quotes from his writings are liberally used to illuminate moments of his life, allowing readers to get to know the man through his own words. The author's note provides further information about Emerson and his philosophy of thought. An eye-catching, kid-friendly biography that is a wonderful addition to any collection.—Marian McLeod, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich, CT
Kirkus Reviews
The team behind creative picture-book biographies The Extraordinary Mark Twain (2010) and What To Do About Alice? (2008) turns its attention to 19th-century American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emersonian quotations adorn the pages and endpapers ("Every spirit builds a house, and beyond its house a world….Build therefore your own world"), but the philosopher's ideas and historical context are not the focus of this visually dynamic biography. Instead, this is largely the story of a natural scholar who loves his cozy home in Concord, Mass., so much that when it is damaged in a terrible fire, he mourns it like the death of a person. The illustrations--prancing across oversized pages--are cheery, inventive, bright and busy, depicting a contented-looking man in coat and tails basking in the magnificence of life. In bold and whimsical spreads, Emerson literally dives into books, strides across a U.S. map and, most dramatically, looms as a silhouette amid the flaming ruins of his beloved house. It's hard to say whether this tale will inspire children to further investigation into the philosopher's life and work, but the author's note does help round out the portrait, including Emerson's friendships with Henry David Thoreau and Louisa May Alcott. A small, inviting window into the life of Ralph Waldo Emerson and an inspiring tribute to a life's dream realized. (author's note, philosophical prompts, source notes, acknowledgments) (Picture book/biography. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780545350884
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 2/25/2014
  • Pages: 48
  • Sales rank: 383,186
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Lexile: 830L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.60 (w) x 12.10 (h) x 0.40 (d)

Meet the Author

Barbara Kerley's award-winning biographies--including WHAT TO DO ABOUT ALICE?, THE EXTRAORDINARY MARK TWAIN (ACCORDING TO SUSY), and THOSE REBELS, JOHN & TOM, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham, and THE DINOSAURS OF WATERHOUSE HAWKINS and WALT WHITMAN: WORDS FOR AMERICA, both illustrated by Brian Selznick--are consistently praised for their lively prose, meticulous research, and artistic presentation style. Kerley lives in Portland, Oregon. You can learn more about her online at www.barbarakerley.com.

Edwin Fotheringham has illustrated several award-winning picture book biographies, including Barbara Kerley's WHAT TO DO ABOUT ALICE?, THE EXTRAORDINARY MARK TWAIN (ACCORDING TO SUSY), and THOSE REBELS, JOHN & TOM. He is also the illustrator of Shana Corey’s MERMAID QUEEN and Pam Munoz Ryan's TONY BALONEY, as well as a new TONY BALONEY reading series, beginning with TONY BALONEY SCHOOL RULES. Edwin lives in Seattle, Washington. You can learn more about him online at www.edfotheringham.com.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 21, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    This is a beautifully written and illustrated biography of Ralph

    This is a beautifully written and illustrated biography of Ralph Waldo Emerson written with the very young child in mind. It is of value to begin introducing young children to people and authors of note at a young age. But it must be done in a manner that is appealing and not boring.

    Inside the front cover are quotes in "squares" of varying colors and type. "Love the day. Do not leave the sky out of your landscape." "Adopt the pace of nature. Her secret is patience." "Write it on your heart that every day is the best day in the year." And one of the best..... "The only way to have a friend is to be one."

    This picture book focuses on Emerson's desire to have the home in adult life that he never had as a child. He achieves this with his wife and delights in ownership and enjoyment of its merits. His home is eventually lost, but he was so loved by those in his little town, that they eventually rebuilt it for him. And Mr. Emerson was home.

    The book has life-living lessons as well as lessons in caring for others.

    DISCLOSURE: A complimentary gallery of this book was provided for the purpose of our review by Scholastic Press. Opinions expressed are solely our own. No compensation was received for this review.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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