My Uncle Emily

Yolen, J. (2009). My uncle Emily. New York, NY: Philomel.

This picture book explores the life of Emily Dickinson, the famous poet, through the eyes of her nephew, who calls her “Uncle Emily”. Dickinson’s nephew goes through a bit of strife around “telling the truth” in this story, but it never fails that his faith, interest, and caring for Uncle Emily’s poems bring him a solution to his troubles-most important, Dickinson’s poem “Tell all the truth, but tell it slant.”

Genre: Biographical fiction/poetry picturebook

Grade:2nd-4th

Readers who would like this book: Children who enjoy poetry, children who have a close relationship with an extended family member, children who enjoy stories involving a strong moral.

Rating and response: 5; This book is truly beautiful. Yolen’s mix of biographical and nonfiction information with added fictional enhancements make Dickinson’s work and life understandable to children. Written in free verse form, this picturebook might be challenging for younger students to comprehend, but would serve as a great read aloud text for the entire classroom. The illustrations included in the book are detailed, whimsical, and easily readable, which would add ease and emphasis to making this text part of a read aloud. This picturebook would serve as a fantastic introductory text to a poetry unit on Emily Dickinson’s work, and I think students would really enjoy this most personal story.

Question: Why is it important to tell the truth?

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