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cover artFor better or worse I am a sucker for things Emily Dickinson. I love her poems so very much and she was such an interesting person — poet, gardener, baker of bread. So when offered the chance to review The Illustrated Emily Dickinson Nature Sketchbook I could not say no. Unlike past times I couldn’t say no, I was not disappointed this time around.

Just in time for National Poetry Month comes this gorgeous book that collects some of Dickinson’s poems about nature. But it isn’t just poetry. Illustrator Tara Lilly from Portland, Oregon, has created page illustrationvisually enchanting artwork to go along with the poems. Birds and flowers and mushrooms, butterflies and bees, I love the colors and just sat looking at them and smiling. Together with Dickinson’s poems, the art creates an uplifting and pleasant experience.

But that is not all. Perhaps inspired by the popularity of adult coloring books, The Illustrated Emily Dickinson is also a sketchbook. Most of the poems have blank pages opposite on which the reader is encouraged to create her own art while under the influence of Emily. And maybe you believe you cannot draw anything worthwhile. You don’t have to draw if you don’t want to. Maybe you just have fun swirling some colors around the page. Or, the pages are thick and could support collage if that takes you fancy.

sketch pageThere is no need to fear your own personal creations will be somehow lacking especially up next to Lilly’s art. Her illustrations are of the simple sort that look so easy anyone can do them. And even though we all know that is a difficult thing to pull off, it is comforting to the art-challenged because you feel like you can make a go of it. In other words, the illustrations are not intimidating but heartening. You could also use the book as a writing journal or even use the poems as writing prompts and the sketch pages as your writing area.

Even if you never find the confidence to add your own art, it is still a lovely book all on its own. It would also make a great gift for anyone with an artsy bent or who just plain loves Emily Dickinson.

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