A small sonnet that shaped the hearts and minds of the whole nation

Each day leading up to the April 16 announcement of the Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today, we feature 2011 Children’s Literature Finalist:

Emma’s Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty
Linda Glaser, paintings by Claire A. Nivola
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Category Sponsor: Books For Africa:


An excerpt from an interview with Linda Glaser:

“[Emma Lazarus] felt passionately about immigrants and she used her pen to champion them. She was a woman ahead of her time. It strikes me that if she herself had not been outspoken and a feminist, she would never have imagined giving the statue such bold words to speak. But thank goodness she was and she did. And with that one poem she helped shape the hearts and minds of our country. She never lived to know the profound impact that her poem would have on countless immigrants, even to this day. I find all of this very inspiring. And I hope that some of this comes through in Emma’s Poem.

In 1883, young Emma Lazarus, moved by the arrival of immigrants from Eastern Europe, wrote a small sonnet to give a welcoming voice to the Statue of Liberty. Over time, her poem would inspire an entire nation, defining the United States of America as a place that welcomes people who come to our shores.


Linda Glaser has written over 25 books. The topics of her books span from nature and the environment to Hanukkah and immigration. Linda lives, writes, and teaches writing in Duluth, Minnesota.


Claire A. Nivola has illustrated several children’s books. She lives in Newton Highlands, Massachusetts.


Emma’s Poem impressed me both with the text and the illustrations.  I really didn’t know anything about Emma, and was happy to learn about her.  Her story is presented in a way that makes it easy to understand.  Almost poetic.”  – Minnesota Book Awards Preliminary Judge

“The art and words are moving in this picture book, which pairs free verse with detailed, fullpage paintings in watercolor, ink, and gouache to tell the history behind Lazarus’ famous inscription on the Statue of Liberty.” – Booklist

“The pictures, with their slight folk-art feel, capture both the time and action of the story while the text illuminates the woman.” – School Library Journal

“Nivola’s rectilinear compositions and poses, her generalized figures, and her bright, limited palette recall Barbara Cooney’s period scenes, capturing New York City’s opulent upper crust and the indigent yet dignified newcomers with equal skill. An excellent introduction to both Lady Liberty and the poem.” – Horn Book, starred review 


Get to know the book’s illustrator, Claire A. Nivola on the books blog, Seven Impossible Things Before Breakfast


Award winners will be announced at the 23rd Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 16, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in downtown Saint Paul. The opening reception begins at 6:30 p.m.; followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. Tickets are $45 and are available by clicking here or calling 651-222-3242.

Have you read Emma’s Poem? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!


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