Friday, February 08, 2008

Poetry Friday: The Mouse of Amherst

For Poetry Friday with my kids, I plan to reread an old favorite to them (though it will be new to Ramona):

The Mouse of Amherst, by Elizabeth Spires, with pictures by Claire A. Nivola, is a delightful little book that we've loved since Anne-with-an-e was in first grade (our first year of homeschooling ... oh, my, how these years are flying with the speed of light ... she cannot be in eighth grade now .... )


But, enough of my incredulous nostalgia. This is a charming little book, and rather deceptively simple. The life and adventures of a mouse named Emmaline, who lives in Emily Dickinson's room, help us to consider what poetry is, what makes a poet (or poetess, or poet-mouse) , and what purpose poetry serves.

When we first read this book (so sorry ... I'm back to the nostalgia) Betsy was four years old and took a liking to my beloved Emily. She asked to listen to "Because I Could Not Stop for Death" (we had a recording of it on an encyclopedia cd) repeatedly. Then she strolled around the house reciting it in an irresistible, four-year-old way:

Because I could not stop for deff
He kindwee stopped for me
The cawwiage held but just aw-selves
and immortowity.

Anne-with-an-e had become an instant fan, too, when she discovered that the Belle of Amherst was a kindred spirit who recognized the power of words. "She loves books, too, Mommy!"

Indeed.

And today, I predict that we will add Ramona to our circle of Amherst fans, because:

There is no Frigate like a Book
To take us Lands away,
Nor any Coursers like a Page
Of prancing Poetry –
This Traverse may the poorest take
Without oppress of Toll –
How frugal is the Chariot
That bears the Human soul.

The Poetry Friday round-up is at AmoXcalli today.

And, just because I love it, here's an extra quote for this Poetry Friday:

“To acquire the habit of reading is to construct for yourself a refuge from almost all of the miseries of life.” ~~ W. Somerset Maugham

7 comments:

jama said...

This looks like a charming little book -- why haven't I seen it before? Thanks so much for featuring it!

Nina said...

I just read The Mouse of Amherst a few months ago and thought it was ever so cute. There isn't anything cuter than a dear child reciting poetry.

I do agree with your last quote. I've often thought if I had just a library card I could easily live without much else. A warm library, a meal and books is indeed a wonderful refuge.

writer2b said...

I'm definitely putting this book on my reading list! So glad to learn of it.

Kelly Fineman said...

I'll have to see if the library has it - it looks cute. I posted some Emily on Tuesday: Who never lost, are unprepared. How great that your kids are fans in the making already!

turtlemama said...

Just put this on hold from the library. Looks ever so cute, and something that my girls would enjoy. Emily Dickinson is our poet this term and, honestly, we are not enjoying her work like I had anticipated we would. Looking forward to trying this title. Interestingly, it never came up as an option when I was looking for Dickinson titles earlier this year.

Thanks,
Sarah

TadMack said...

A wee one proudly reciting a poem about Death... is very funny! I love that she already loves poetry (AND Anne-with-an-e!!!!)

Becky at Farm School said...

We love this book too. I couldn't believe my luck when I found it in paperback at the Goodwill when my eldest was a baby; I hadn't heard of it before. I still can't fathom why anyone would get rid of it, but that person's loss was certainly our gain!