Reviews for Mouse of Amherst


Booklist Monthly Selections - #2 March 1999
Gr. 2^-5. A young mouse named Emmaline moves into the small, daintily furnished hole in Emily Dickinson's bedroom. The observant little rodent notices that Emily writes poems, and, overcome with emotion at reading words that express her own feelings so beautifully, writes her own poems on the back of Dickinson's pages. The simple story gives young readers a first taste of Dickinson's poetry as well as an idea of the relationship formed between a poet and a reader. It also includes the usual mouse adventures--encounters with cats. The small trim size and delicate line drawings, contributed by Clair Nivola, are in keeping with the story. A brief biography of Dickinson concludes this ethereal charmer. ((Reviewed March 15, 1999)) Copyright 2000 Booklist Reviews

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Kirkus Reviews 1999 February #2
A mouse becomes the perfect poetic companion to the reclusive poet Emily Dickinson in this heartfelt daydream from Spires (With One White Wing, 1995, etc.). When the small mouse Emmaline moves into the Dickinson household, she accidentally reads some scraps of verse penned by Emily. Reading poems inspires the rodent to write her own lines on the back of Emily's paper, and to leave it for the poet to find. Thus the two become ``pen pals,'' writing verse and sharing it with each other, though rarely face to face. Readers gain a fanciful mouse's-eye view of Emily's life at home, where she is visited by an editor, and where she delivers homemade gingerbread to the neighborhood children by lowering a basket to them on a rope. Emmaline's life is not as quiet as her human mentor's; she's chased by a cat, rooted out by a ferret, and eventually decides she must move on. Years later, Emmaline passes on her appreciation of poetry to her mice children, and continues to write. This diminutive little book, with its shy black-and-white line drawings and amusing plot, is an ideal introduction to Dickinson's poetry. It's also a strong advocate for the power of the written word, even in the absence of fame or speech, to communicate, to inspire friendships, and to stir the heart. (Fiction. 8-11) Copyright 1999 Kirkus Reviews

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Publishers Weekly Reviews 1999 January #4
The title of this fanciful sliver of a novel is a delectable double entendre, expressing the characters of both Emily Dickinson and Emmaline, a poetry-penning mouse who lodges in the wainscoting of the poet's bedroom. Emmaline, who narrates the book, considers herself "nothing more than a crumb gatherer, a cheese nibbler, a mouse-of-little-purpose." But as the inquisitive mouse watches Emily scribbling and scratching away on small scraps of paper for much of the day and night, a gust of wind sends one of the scraps close to her mousehole and Emmaline dashes out to retrieve it. Much to her surprise, she discovers it is a poem so moving ("I felt giddy and inspired, as if a whirligig were spinning in my brain") that it prompts Emmaline to write a verse of her own. She returns both to Emily's desk, and soon the two are exchanging poems inspired by their experiences within the household (eight of Dickinson's, and eight written by Spires in the guise of Emmaline, are included). While Spires (With One White Wing) employs a formal 19th-century tone and vocabulary for her rodent protagonist, it is never stiff or off-putting, but filled with ardency and wit; the poems that Emmaline "writes" echo the style and substance of Dickinson's to a striking degree. Emmaline's newfound enthusiasm and interpretations of Dickinson's poetry will likely coincide with readers' own responses. A brief afterword with biographical information explains just how this clever novel unmasks the "mouse" who rarely ventured past her garden and invites readers into the work and life of one of America's most important poets. Final artwork not seen by PW. Ages 8-up. (Mar.) Copyright 1999 Publishers Weekly Reviews

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School Library Journal Reviews 1999 May
Gr 2-4-Emmaline, a young mouse who lives in the wall of Emily Dickinson's bedroom, discovers the poet's jottings and is inspired to write some poems of her own. The woman and the mouse begin to trade poems as Emmaline learns the household routine. She learns to hide from the family cat and quickly gather crumbs from under the dining-room table. Their poetic exchange ends abruptly when Lavinia, Emily's older sister, calls in "the ratcatcher," who sets some traps and then unlooses a fearsome stoat who is impossible to ignore. Emmaline leaves the Dickinson home with a cherished volume of poetry in tow. Facts about Dickinson are wedged in between the poems. Nivola's pen-and-ink drawings convey a delicacy about both the mouse and Emily, which is borne out by their relationship in the text. Readers will enjoy the story of the mouse and her life in the Dickinson house; however, those not familiar with the poet prior to reading this book may believe that she is a fictional character as well. An additional purchase.-Susan Marie Pitard, Weezie Library for Children, Nantucket Atheneum, MA Copyright 1999 School Library Journal Reviews

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