Thursday, March 29, 2012

"The dog is the noblest work of Art"

Almost midnight. I sit on the sofa, laptop on my lap. Beside me sprawls a big, beautiful, golden-haired dog. His name is Hucks and he is my best buddy. I catch his eye. "How did it get so late?" I ask him. "How could I leave my blog until the last minute?" I sigh. He sighs. He understands. He's been here with me before.

And then I get an idea. "Hey Hucks, maybe I could write about Emily and Carlo? Even though it's cataloged as fiction, it's still a true story, it's thoroughly researched and beautifully written and illustrated, and it's a wonderful introduction to Emily Dickinson's life and poetry, and it's only two days until National Poetry Month...and it's about a DOG!" He cocks his head at me. I can tell he thinks it's a great idea.

Written by Marty Rhodes Figley and illustrated by Catherine Stock in color-drenched watercolors, Emily and Carlo tells the story of the shy poet and her best friend for 16 years, her "shaggy ally," a huge, floppy, slobbery Newfoundland named Carlo. Featuring excerpts from Emily's poems and letters, it's a book about love and friendship ("I started early, took my dog, / And visited the Sea") and eventually, loss ("Carlo died...Would you instruct me now?). Kirkus Reviews called the book "a pleasing little window into Dickinson's life and an invitation to learn more about the fresh-breathed poet from Amherst."

My own shaggy ally is snoring now. I'll take that as a hint and wrap things up. Hucks and I recommend celebrating National Poetry Month by checking out Emily and Carlo. And we agree with Emily, by the way: The dog is the noblest work of Art.

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