Poems in the Attic

Nikki Grimes, illus. by Elizabeth Zunon. Lee & Low, $19.95 (48p) ISBN 978-1-62014-027-7
During a visit to her grandmother's house, a seven-year-old African-American girl discovers poems her mother wrote in her youth, giving the daughter a window into her mother's peripatetic upbringing as an Air Force brat. Grimes (Chasing Freedom) alternates between the daughter's free-verse poems and her mother's five-line tanka poetry. In one scene, the girl's grandmother shows her how to make paper luminarias, just as she did with her daughter while they were living in New Mexico ("After we were done,/ our brown bag candleholders/ bloomed bright, lighting up the night"); a Japanese dinner between girl and grandmother ties into a trip to Japan. (In author's notes, Grimes highlights the poetic forms she uses, as well as the Air Force bases that correspond to locations in the book). Fully in step with Grimes's empathic writing, Zunon's (One Plastic Bag) warmly painted collages carry readers from the waterways of Virginia to a German castle atop a hill, highlighting the powerful emotional ties between the girl and her elders, as well as her mother's adventurous spirit. Ages 6–11. Author's agent: Elizabeth Harding, Curtis Brown. Illustrator's agent: Lori Nowicki, Painted Words. (May)
Reviewed on: 05/11/2015
Release date: 05/01/2015
Genre: Children's
Compact Disc - 978-1-5019-0781-4
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