By Marty Rhodes Figley, Illustrated by Catherine Stock
Charlesbridge, $15.95, 32 pages
Emily and her Shaggy Friend
Emily and Carlo is a sweet and classically written children’s book about the relationship between the poet Emily Dickinson and her dog that is sure to warm the hearts of all who read it. Not only does author Marty Rhodes Figley spin a jovial tale in her third children’s book, she includes short excerpts of Dickinson’s letters and poetry that will introduce young readers to her personality and work as a writer. Figley’s story begins in 1849, just before Emily turns nineteen. Her brother Austin is at college, and her younger sister Vinnie is off at school. Emily is very lonely in the empty home, and her father buys her a puppy. Emily names him Carlo after the dog in Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre, one of Dickinson’s favorite books.
With Carlo around, Emily is not so lonely. Over the years, the odd pair goes on many adventures together through gardens, woods and meadows. Emily teaches Carlo manners, hides poems in flowers, and feeds Carlo heart-shaped cookies. After many years together, Carlo grows old and passes away. Emily misses her old companion dearly, but carries his spirit with her. I highly recommend Emily and Carlo for children and their parents. It is a lovely story, an accessible introduction to poetry and a moving tale of companionship and loss perfect for younger readers.
Reviewed by Emily Davis