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Bedard, Michael
Illustrated by Barbara Cooney Toronto, Lester Publishing, 1992. 40pp, cloth, $18.95, ISBN 1-895555-01-9. CIP

Grades 4 to 9/ Ages 9 to 14

Reviewed by Gillian Martin Noonan

Volume 21 Number 1
1993 January

Michael Bedard has created in Emily a provocative story about the unexpected encounter between a young girl and her mysterious neighbour. The neighbour turns out to be the poet Emily Dickinson, and the encounter results in the exchange of unusual but simple gifts.

The story is told completely through the words of the young girl simple yet most eloquent. The reader is drawn in by the story as it quite believably reveals something of the young girl's life, how she sees her mysterious neighbour, and how she comes to meet her face to face. When read aloud, the language displays a true poetic quality, which is most fitting for this story.

Barbara Cooney's illustrations meld with Bedard's words to create this tale. By using Dickinson's house in Amherst, Massachusetts, as well as the house across the road as models for the houses found in the story, Cooney is able to transport the reader to the beauty of nineteenth-century New England.

While the reading level is appropriate for grades 2 and up, this book would be an excellent introduction to the poet Emily Dickinson and her world for grades 4 through 9. Definitely a must for any school library interested in stirring young readers' interest in poetry.

Gillian Martin Noonan is a teacher-librarian living in Old Perlican, Newfoundland
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