A Home for Mr. Emerson

by Barbara Kerley (Author) Edwin Fotheringham (Illustrator)

A Home for Mr. Emerson
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade
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.
The more
experiments you make
the better."

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.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review

The team behind What to Do About Alice?, The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy), and Those Rebels, John & Tom continue their tradition of excellent and exuberant studies of historical figures with a theatrical story about writer Ralph Waldo Emerson's relationship with his beloved Concord, Mass., home and community. Fotheringham pours visual variety onto the pages: in one image, Emerson contentedly reads while encircled by a whirlwind of books; on an especially powerful wordless spread, Emerson stands in shadow before the burning ruins of his estate, which caught fire in 1872. Well-sourced quotations appear throughout the story (and fill the endpapers), both contextualizing Emerson's life and standing as testament to the value of an open mind and a generous heart. Appended materials offer additional details about Emerson and encourage readers to "choose the life you create for yourself," as he did. Ages 8-12. Illustrator's agent: Pat Hackett. (Feb.)

Copyright 2013 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

School Library Journal

Gr 2-4--This introduction to the life of Ralph Waldo Emerson will help readers begin to understand the thoughts and values of this great American thinker. Emerson grows up in Boston, but yearns to make a life closer to nature where he can surround himself with books and friends. He finds a perfect home in Concord, Massachusetts, where he and his wife raise a family. Emerson eagerly becomes a part of the community, even playing the role of hog reeve, gathering up the town's runaway pigs. After collecting his thoughts in journals, Emerson begins traveling across the country to lecture, attracting visitors from around the world to his doorstep. A house fire later in his life devastates Emerson, but allows the town to demonstrate their affection for him as they rebuild his home. Emerson, who is likely little known to younger students, is brought to life in an approachable biography. The colorful depictions of Emerson are warm, cheerful, and full of movement. Children will love the cartoonlike illustrations that make Emerson seem like a superhero as he dives into oversized books and flies through the sky on another giant tome. Quotes from his writings are liberally used to illuminate moments of his life, allowing readers to get to know the man through his own words. The author's note provides further information about Emerson and his philosophy of thought. An eye-catching, kid-friendly biography that is a wonderful addition to any collection.--Marian McLeod, Convent of the Sacred Heart, Greenwich, CT

Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes


Sibert Honor Book
Boston Globe-Horn Book Honor Book

"Kerley reveals the essence of Alice in an upbeat account of her life."—THE NEW YORK TIMES

*"Spectacular art."—BOOKLIST, starred review

*"A gleeful celebration."—KIRKUS REVIEWS, starred review


Washington Post Best Book for Young Readers
New York Public Library Best Children's Book

*"A masterfully perceptive and largely visual biography . . . dynamic and lovely . . . a joy to peruse."—SCHOOL LIBRARY JOURNAL, starred review.

"A great new book."—THE NEW YORK TIMES

*"Accessible and inventive."—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred review


NCTE Orbus Pictus Honor Book
NAPPA Gold Award Winner

*"Witty and wise."—PUBLISHERS WEEKLY, starred review

*"Fun, energetic . . . clever . . . skillful . . . a terrific book to lead the charge in learning about the Revolution."—BOOKLIST, starred review

Barbara Kerley
Edwin Fotheringham's stylish, award-winning illustrations have graced the pages of The New Yorker, The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and many other publications. He has illustrated numerous highly acclaimed nonfiction picture books, such as Barbara Kerley's What to Do About Alice?, a Sibert Honor Book and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award Honor Book; The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy), a New York Public Library Best Children's Book; Those Rebels, John & Tom, an NCTE Orbis Pictus Award Honor Book; and A Home for Mr. Emerson, a NAPPA Gold Award winner; as well as younger fiction picture books, such as Pam Muñoz Ryan's Tony Baloney and the eponymous beginning reader series, Jennifer Hamburg's Monkey and Duck Quack Up!, a spring 2015 Indie Favorite, and Andria Rosenbaum's Big Sister, Little Monster. Ed lives in Seattle, Washington. Visit him online at edfotheringham.com.
Barbara Kerley is a two-time Sibert Honoree and a Boston Globe-Horn Book Honoree whose award-winning biographies include What to Do About Alice?, The Extraordinary Mark Twain (According to Susy), Those Rebels, John & Tom, and A Home for Mr. Emerson, all illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham; Tigers & Tea with Toppy, illustrated by Matte Stephens; and The Dinosaurs of Waterhouse Hawkins and Walt Whitman: Words for America, illustrated by Brian Selznick. Kerley's books have all been praised for their lively prose, meticulous research, and artistic presentation style. She lives in Portland, Oregon. Visit her online at barbarakerley.com.
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Scholastic Press
Publication date
February 20, 2014
Parents Choice Awards (Spring) (2008-Up)
Gold Medal Winner 2014 - 2014
Orbis Pictus Award
Honor Book 2015 - 2015

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