Margo Tanenbaum's Reviews > Emily and Carlo

Emily and Carlo by Marty Rhodes Figley
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Mar 10, 12

bookshelves: picture-books, biography, women-s-history
Read in March, 2012

I have to admit I've never been a big fan of Emily Dickinson--I've always found her poetry challenging and thought of her as the reclusive, dour-looking New England spinster that we've all seen in photographs.

What a different Emily we encounter in the wonderful new picture book, Emily and Carlo, by Marty Rhodes Figley. When Emily's siblings both left the Dickinson home, we learn that her father brought her home a big, black, slobbery puppy (probably a Newfoundland) to entertain her and keep her company. She named him Carlo, after one of the dogs in Jane Eyre, and thus began a wonderful friendship that lasted sixteen years. Figley's text combines excerpts from Dickinson's poems and letters with narrative that brings to vivid life Emily and Carlo's close relationship over the years. With the big dog by her side, the normally shy Emily explored the town of Amherst and the woods and meadows nearby. Through the book, we see Emily and Carlo grow older together, with the inevitable loss that must come when Carlo dies. The author writes in simple but eloquent text:

"Emily missed her best friend. Carlo was her only dog for sixteen years. She never had another."

There are not that many picture books for children that are based on scholarly papers published in academic journals. Emily and Carlo is one, however; Figley is not only a member of the Emily Dickinson International Society, but also the author of an academic paper on Emily and Carlo that was published in The Emily Dickinson Journal.

Back matter includes an Author's Note, additional biographical information on Dickinson, sources of quotations, and a brief bibliography.

After reading Emily and Carlo, I am eager to rediscover Emily Dickinson's poetry, and I'm sure many sensitive young readers would feel the same. The book provides a fresh perspective on this celebrated author, one that makes her accessible to children and adults alike. This would be a terrific book to use in conjunction with a lesson on Emily Dickinson and her poetry, or just to read and enjoy for its luminous watercolor artwork by Catherine Stock and its quietly moving text about the powerful love between a dog and its owner.
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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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message 1: by Sue (new)

Sue Margo- May I copy this review and forward it to the librarians in the Bonita District, please? Sue Fernandes


Margo Tanenbaum I'd be delighted! Please feel free.


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