cover image When Gorilla Goes Walking

When Gorilla Goes Walking

Nikki Grimes, , illus. by Shane Evans. . Scholastic/Orchard, $16.99 (32pp) ISBN 978-0-439-31770-2

A girl’s keen and loving observations of her audacious, “rain-cloud gray” cat—the Gorilla of the title—are the inspiration for this wonderful suite of poems by Grimes (Dark Sons ). The book also serves as a kind of primer on poetry, proving that the medium is infinite in its versatility; Grimes offers up everything from multi-stanza paeans (both rhyming and not) to a sort of haiku (“Gorilla gazes/ into a puddle. Does she/ know she’s beautiful?”). Her word choices are always lively and evoke an appropriately feline combination of affection and entitlement (“I scratch Gorilla’s belly when/ she commandeers my lap”). Of course, it helps to have such a rich subject—Gorilla loves to fight with ivy, cuddle on a sick bed, interrupt homework, eat soul food and pine for a tom cat. Evans’s (Here We Go Round ) poster-like paintings are the perfect accompaniment—the illustrator beautifully captures the many moods of both the supremely confident Gorilla and her adoring mistress. A winner for youngsters, cat fans and poetry lovers of all ages. Ages 4-8. (May)