Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews



Michael Bedard
Illustrator:   Barbara Cooney 
Historical Fiction Picture Book
For ages 6 to 8
Random House, 2002   ISBN: 978-0385306973

A little girl, her mother and her father have only recently moved to the town of Amherst in Massachusetts. One day the little girl hears a letter coming through the slot on the front door. The letter is from the lady who lives in the yellow house across the road. In the letter she asks the little girl’s mother, who is a pianist, to come and play for her sometime. Some people call the lady in the yellow house “The Myth” because she is so odd and reclusive. Father tells his daughter that the lady likes to garden and that it is said that she writes wonderful poetry.

Then comes the day when Mother is going to play for The Myth. The little girl goes with her wondering all the while why the lady in the yellow house hides herself from the world. Could it be that she is afraid of the world? Could it be that maybe she needs someone to reach out to her?

This remarkable story about a fictional child who meets the famous poet Emily Dickinson, evokes the same mood often found in Emily’s poetry – a mood of mystery, beauty, and understanding. In real life Emily often made friends with the children who lived on her street, giving them gingerbread and watching them from her second storey window. Together the little girl and the mysterious young woman share their love of flowers and growing things, exchanging meaningful gifts which will give pleasure to each of them for years to come.

Barbara Conney’s spare and evocative artwork compliments the lyrical text capturing special moments in the story and fixing them in the mind of the reader long after the cover of the book is closed.