by Barbara Kerley; Illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham
Scholastic Press (February 25, 2014)
Nonfiction * Biography * American Writers
From the award-winning creators of THOSE REBELS, JOHN & TOM, a joyful portrait of an American icon and an inspiring blueprint for how to live your life.
"All life is an experiment.
experiments you make
Before Ralph Waldo Emerson was a great writer, he was a city boy who longed for the broad, open fields and deep, still woods of the country, and then a young man who treasured books, ideas, and people. When he grew up and set out in the world, he wondered, could he build a life around these things he loved?
This moving biography--presented with Barbara Kerley and Edwin Fotheringham's inimitable grace and style--illustrates the rewards of a life well-lived, one built around personal passions: creativity and community, nature and friendship.
May it inspire you to experiment and build the life you dream of living.
My thoughts on this book:
In honor of my recent trip to Massachusetts, I am sharing a few vacation pictures and some thoughts on Barbara Kerley's book A Home for Mr. Emerson.
Emerson's Concord home was one of the sites I wanted to see while visiting Massachusetts. I have to admit that I did not know a lot about the famous American writer and thinker of the 19th century. Sadly, it seemed that anything related to Emerson was not to be. Notice the "closed" sign.
I felt a bit weird trespassing since there was an actual fence around the property. However, It didn't stop me from taking pictures of Emerson's home from the roadside. I had this image in my mind as I read the book. I love this quote about the house from Emerson included in the book.
"But we shall crowd so many books and papers, and, if possible, wise friends, into it that it shall have as much wit as it can carry."
Emerson loved his home, he loved Concord, and he loved the people. In turn, they loved him.
In the story, Kerley writes about a fire. It is through the help and support of his neighbors and friends that so much of his belongings and writings survived the fire. In Kerley's end notes, she indicates that during the repairs Emerson spent time at the Old Manse Home, as well as, overseas.
As I said, I was two for two in not getting to spend time visiting any of the places that he called home. There was a big "closed" sign at the Old Manse House too.
The Old Manse home was a gathering place for many of the great thinkers and writers of that time. Can you imagine a place where Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Bronson Alcott, Henry David Thoreau and many more would have spent time talking with one another? I would have loved to have listened in on these conversations.
Since I was unable to visit Emerson's home or the Old Manse House, I did track down where Emerson's family burial plot was located. The cemetery was called Sleepy Hollow Cemetery (no connection with the one in NY and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow).
Apparently, all these amazing writers & thinkers who were friends in real life were buried within walking distance of each other. Some were across the pathway from one another.
I did manage to get to see Louisa May Alcott's home in Concord where she wrote Little Women. It was during this tour that I was able to get a glimpse not only into my favorite childhood writer but also in the character of Ralph Waldo Emerson. Below is a quote and a paraphrase of how Alcott felt about one of her favorite authors.
"When the book-mania fell upon me at fifteen I used to venture into Mr. Emerson`s library and ask what I should read, never conscious of the audacity of my demand, so genial was my welcome." - Louisa May Alcott
As I was on the tour of the Alcott home, the tour guide spoke of Louisa's sister Anna's wedding day. At the wedding, Mr. Emerson gave the bride a kiss on her cheek in congratulations. The guide said that Louisa, who never married, commented that she might actually consider marriage if she could also receive a kiss from Emerson. It was evident from the tour that Emerson was a beloved friend of the Alcott family and a wonderful, and kind man.
And it is also evident from the work of Kerley and Fotheringham that they too discovered that Emerson was a well loved neighbor and friend. Pick up a copy of A Home for Mr. Emerson at your local indie bookstore or library, and discover the amazing world of Ralph Waldo Emerson.
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