Emily Dickinson: A Biography

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Milton Meltzer's latest in his series of biographies for middle-grade readers delves into the life and times of the poet Emily Dickinson with intelligence and respect. His picture of the shy young woman—for she seems, like Peter Pan, never to have completely grown up and old—is developed from portraits of her conservative family and Amherst environment, her letters, and most especially her poems. Although Dickinson attended Mt. Holyoke for a year, that was nearly the last of her public appearances or travels. Hermit-like, she spent the rest of her days cloistered in the bosom of her family: caring for her ill, aging mother; piecing together tiny books of poems that she refused to have published. One is left with the image painted by a rare visitor, "A little plain woman . . . in white pique . . . thoroughly ingenuous and simple." But in her mind, Emily Dickinson soared. The volume is handsomely designed and produced, with a reinforced binding. Its thick stock shows off the well-selected photos and period illustrations. This would be a wise addition to any middle- or upper-school library. 2006, Twenty-First Century Books, Ages 10 up.
—Kathleen Karr
VOYA
The juxtaposition of Emily Dickinson's vivacious and original poetry against her apparently quiet and private life has long provided biographers with a challenge. Meltzer's take approaches the problem by describing the opportunities and complexities of the time and place into which Dickinson was born even when no one knows for certain how she felt about them. In addition to describing the education Dickinson received and quoting richly from letters she penned while away at school, he also talks about nineteenth-century attitudes toward women's education. Although Dickinson herself wrote little directly about abolition, slavery, or even the Civil War, Meltzer outlines the issues for readers and explains how others in her circle and in her community felt about them. He introduces readers to the men with whom she corresponded and who inspired or encouraged her poetry, but he refrains from speculating about her relationships with them, limiting himself, appropriately, to the records, generally letters, left by Dickinson and her friends. Very readable and informative, the volume is in most ways a fine example of biography for young people and paints a memorable portrait of the woman behind the famous poems. Perfectionists, however, may quibble with some undocumented particulars, such as Meltzer's claim that only one in eight children born in Dickinson's era lived past the age of two or the annoying absence of note numbers to tie the many quotations from letters and poems to the source notes listed in the back of the book. VOYA CODES: 4Q 3P J (Better than most, marred only by occasional lapses; Will appeal with pushing; Junior High, defined as grades 7 to 9). 2006, Lerner, 128p.; Index.Photos. Biblio. Source Notes. Chronlogy., PLB . Ages 12 to 15.
—Megan Lynn Isaac
School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up-This introduction to an important American literary figure is notable for its clear and succinct writing. Beginning with descriptions of Dickinson's family, early childhood, and formal education, the narrative is enhanced by many black-and-white photos, illustrations, lithographs, and facsimiles. Described by one of her teachers as "shy and nervous," Dickinson buried her feelings in her poetry and letters. Meltzer speculates about her poor health, her family responsibilities, her love life, and her reluctance to leave familiar surroundings. During her lifetime, Lincoln was elected and assassinated, the Women's Suffrage Movement was born, Civil War broke out, and slavery was abolished. Despite these important events, the poet preferred to write about the natural world outside her window and everyday occurrences. Excerpts from her letters and poems appear throughout. A worthwhile book for students who might have difficulty with more scholarly works.-Pat Bender, The Shipley School, Bryn Mawr, PA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780761329497
  • Publisher: Lerner Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 12/28/2005
  • Series: American Literary Greats Series
  • Format: Library Binding
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 1,407,913
  • Age range: 12 - 17 Years
  • Product dimensions: 7.30 (w) x 10.10 (h) x 0.60 (d)

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