________________ CM . . . . Volume IX Number 21 . . . . June 20, 2003


Emily Carr: At the Edge of the World.

Jo Ellen Bogart. Illustrated by Maxwell Newhouse.
Toronto, ON: Tundra, 2003.
40 pp., cloth, $24.99.
ISBN 0-88776-640-4.

Subject Headings:
Carr, Emily, 1871-1945-Juvenile literature.
Painters-Canada-Biography-Juvenile literature.

Grades 4-7 / Ages 9-12.

Review by Lorraine Douglas.

**** /4


It seemed as if Emily Carr was born at the edge of the world. In 1871, Victoria, British Columbia was an isolated place – a five-hour ferry ride to the mainland and thousands of miles to Canada’s eastern shore.

Emily’s British father, Richard Carr, had chosen Victoria for its beautiful natural setting, mild climate, good economic prospects, and very British flavor. He settled his family there, building a prosperous grocery business and a lovely house with English style gardens. The robust and lively Emily – her father’s pet – loved playing with the animals in the cow yard, singing at the top of her voice and getting dirty. Emily’s older sisters often scolded her for improper behavior, but she was allowed to explore the nearby countryside and beach she loved.

This beautiful biography explores the life and art of Emily Carr, one of Canada’s foremost visual artists. It will interest a wide variety of readers as it conveys the unique vision and creative life of an artist who overcame many obstacles. Emily Carr lived an unconventional life and was a complex person. Bogart explores the idea the Carr lived at the edge of society’s expectations and was able to forge her own vigorous and powerful art based on her belief that she could create a spiritual experience through her art.
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     The book has a similar format to Bogart’s previous biography about a Canadian artist, Capturing Joy: The Story of Maud Lewis (Tundra, 2002). In both books, high quality full colour reproductions of the artist’s paintings appear on the right hand page, and the text and black and white illustrations detailing the artist’s life are on the verso. In this biography of Emily Carr, the author has chosen to write a straightforward narrative account of Emily’s life. The finely detailed line drawings of Emily and her world by folk artist Maxwell Newhouse capture the very essence of Emily’s appearance, her charming pets and her vigorous creativity.

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     The text is thoughtful, sensitive and respectful as it delineates the major influences and high points of Emily’s life and art. As in the award-winning biography of Jackson Pollack, Action Jackson by Jan Greenberg (Millbrook, 2002), Jo Ellen Bogart is able to give the reader a glimpse into the creative heart of an artist and let readers know about the person in a very accessible and readable book. This biography of Carr is a perfect extension for older readers to The Art Room by Susan Vande Griek (Douglas & McIntyre, 2002). This picture book tells the story of Emily’s teaching and how it transformed the young artists in her class. Upper elementary readers will also be interested in Four Pictures by Emily Carr by Nicolas Debon (Groundwood, 2003) which tells the story of Emily’s life in an alternate way – through a comic strip format which focuses on four paintings expressing different periods of her life. Emily Carr: At the Edge of the World joins the growing number of intelligent books on Canadian art for children, books like Richard Rhodes’ A First Book of Canadian Art (Owl Books, 2001) and Meet the Group of Seven by David Wistow and Kelly McKinley (Kids Can, 1999).

Highly Recommended.

Lorraine Douglas is the Administrative Coordinator of Youth Services for the Winnipeg Public Library Services.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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The Manitoba Library Association
ISSN 1201-9364
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