Friday, August 1, 2014

A Home For Mr. Emerson

by Barbara Kerley

Ages: 5 and up (approximately grades K and up)

Many people know Ralph Waldo Emerson was a writer, essayist and poet. He was also a loyal friend, active community member, and avid naturalist. This engaging picture book biography illustrates how a city boy embraced nature and created a loving home in the friendly, tight-knit community of Concord, Massachusetts.

After moving from city to city while growing up, Emerson dreamed of a place he could make his own. This place would have open, grassy fields and deep, still woods. After college, Emerson and his new bride moved to Concord, Massachusetts. They bought a farmhouse and planted fruit trees, pumpkins, and flowers. They stocked the library with books and Emerson’s writing. Emerson’s vision was slowly coming to life. Once Emerson befriended his neighbors and fellow villagers, the buzz of happy chatting and laughing filled the house and it truly became his dream home. Years went by and all was well until disaster struck and fire ravaged the house. Devastated by the loss, Emerson embarked on an overseas trip with his eldest daughter as a way to rejuvenate his spirit. After two weeks, Emerson returned home to see that the entire village had come together to rebuild the house, a place that meant so much to everyone in Concord.

Emerson was a true literary pioneer, championing the ideas of speaking your own mind and encouraging other to embrace independence and self-reliance. While this particular version provides an overview rather than a detailed approach to Emerson’s life, the essence of his views are very apparent through direct quotes from his writings. The bright and cartoon-like illustrations convey Emerson’s spirit with intellect and whimsy. An author’s note with additional information about Emerson and a discussion guide about his writing is included in the back of the book. Overall, this picture book biography is a winning combination of Emerson’s heartfelt story and lively illustrations that are sure to engage readers. This title is recommended for grades K and up.

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