Emily and Carlo by Marty Rhodes Figley, illustrated by Catherine Stock
When Emily Dickinson was 19 years old, she was lonely in the big home in New England since her siblings were off at school. So her father bought her a puppy that she named Carlo. The quiet and reclusive poet was an odd match with her bounding, huge Newfoundland. Carlo gave Emily more courage to be out and about, visiting others. He was with her always, a large drooling dog. They explored Amherst together with its woods, meadows and ponds. Their time together inspired her poetry, as shown in this book through stanzas that she wrote. This friendship with a dog makes this literary figure much more human and approachable for children. It’s a very special way to see an author.
Figley truly found the key to Emily Dickinson’s personality for children. All it took was a large messy dog to break through into Dickinson’s quiet, contemplative world. Interspersing the verse with the story also makes this a friendly window into Dickinson’s work. The book maintains a fresh, light tone throughout, showing the two friends aging together.
Stock’s art is a radiant mix of playfulness and contemplation, matching the subject matter beautifully. It shows the deep connection of woman and dog, the natural world they explored, and pays homage to the verse that is embedded in the book.
A simply lovely look at Emily Dickinson through her love of a pet, this book should be used with anyone working with Dickinson’s poetry and children as a lens through which to view the person and her writing. Appropriate for ages 6-8.
Reviewed from copy received from Charlesbridge.