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A Home for Mr. Emerson Hardcover – February 25, 2014
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From School Library Journal
Gr 2–4—This introduction to the life of Ralph Waldo Emerson will help readers begin to understand the thoughts and values of this great American thinker. Emerson grows up in Boston, but yearns to make a life closer to nature where he can surround himself with books and friends. He finds a perfect home in Concord, Massachusetts, where he and his wife raise a family. Emerson eagerly becomes a part of the community, even playing the role of hog reeve, gathering up the town's runaway pigs. After collecting his thoughts in journals, Emerson begins traveling across the country to lecture, attracting visitors from around the world to his doorstep. A house fire later in his life devastates Emerson, but allows the town to demonstrate their affection for him as they rebuild his home. Emerson, who is likely little known to younger students, is brought to life in an approachable biography. The colorful depictions of Emerson are warm, cheerful, and full of movement. Children will love the cartoonlike illustrations that make Emerson seem like a superhero as he dives into oversized books and flies through the sky on another giant tome. Quotes from his writings are liberally used to illuminate moments of his life, allowing readers to get to know the man through his own words. The author's note provides further information about Emerson and his philosophy of thought. An eye-catching, kid-friendly biography that is a wonderful addition to any collection.—Marian McLeod, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich, CT
Kerley and Fotheringham are known for their upbeat picture books about famous historical figures. This work about Ralph Waldo Emerson—someone who is probably not known to many children—is a tale of deep love for his home and community in Concord, Massachusetts. After a fire destroys Emerson’s house, neighbors rally around him, returning some of the generosity and affection received from his family over the years. This has the same format and style of Kerley and Fotheringham’s earlier works, with colorful illustrations featuring cartoon-style figures in a pleasing, open layout. The brief text focuses on the story of Emerson’s community life and doesn’t bother much with why he was famous, which works well for the storytelling even as it may leave some readers wondering just who he was. Some of his famous quotes are placed in the endpapers and woven into the story. Back matter includes a helpful author’s note and a page of suggestions to encourage readers to examine their own lives and values. Grades 2-4. --Randall Enos
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Emerson's fame through his books, lectures, etc. is depicted as drawing people from all over to his cozy home, which is always open to friends and visitors. However, the book also depicts a dark period in Emerson's life, that of the time when a fire destroyed his home and possessions. Despite acts of kindnesses by his neighbors, Emerson sinks into despair, and is taken abroad to recuperate. When he returns with his daughter Ellen, a surprising welcome awaits him that revives his spirits and reinforces Emerson's belief in community and fellowship.
At the end, the book provides some historical background on Emerson and his family life in Concord, MA, followed by suggestions on how to "build a world of your own", including prompts based on Emerson's famous sayings which can be developed into journal-writing activities as well as other discovery-themed activities. This is an uplifting book with beautiful illustrations and wise words, written in an engaging manner, and will inspire young and old alike. We got our copy from the library, but I plan to get one for our home library. Highly recommended!
Absolutely loved it.