Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

Emily and Carlo

Emily and Carlo

Marty Rhodes Figley
Illustrator:   Catherine Stock 
Nonfiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Charlesbridge Publishing, 2012   ISBN: 978-1580892742

Emily Dickenson was a shy person who was happiest when she was at home with her family. When she was nineteen, Emily’s sister left home to attend school, and her brother went to college. Emily felt rather lonely in the big family home. Her father, seeing his daughter’s sadness, got her a puppy to keep her company, and soon Emily and her black dog Carlo were inseparable.

Everywhere Emily went, Carlo went with her. Having Carlo’s companionship helped Emily to have “the confidence to explore the world” around her. Emily and Carlo would walk around town, stopping to visit friends and to give them little gifts that Emily made. Sometimes she gave people flowers from her gardens, and sometimes one of the blooms would have one of her poems tucked inside. She also gave people heart-shaped cakes that she made. Carlo was very partial to these, and Emily often “treated him to a taste.”

Over the years, Carlo shared so many of Emily’s adventures, and she often mentioned him in her letters and in her poetry. Emily strongly believed that “The Dog is the noblest work of Art…/his mistress’s rights he doth defend.” He was her dearest friend.

Then Emily’s eyes became painful, and she needed to leave home so that a city doctor could treat her. Twice she left Carlo, and she missed him terribly, as he missed her. Being apart hurt them both deeply, and when they were reunited their happiness was complete.

In this beautifully written picture book, the author weaves together her prose with excerpts from Emily Dickinson’s writings to give readers a very moving portrait of one of the world’s most beloved poets.