cover image Meet Danitra Brown

Meet Danitra Brown

Nikki Grimes. HarperCollins Publishers, $16 (1pp) ISBN 978-0-688-12073-3

In a series of poems, an African American girl sings the praises of her best friend and their special relationship. According to Zuri, the speaker here, Danitra is ``the most splendiferous girl in town.'' Zuri respects Danitra's quirks (she wears only purple clothing) and admires her ability to walk away from boys who taunt her about her glasses. Zuri is, moreover, grateful that ``Danitra knows just what to say to make me glad.'' Grimes's poetry has a very deliberate rhyme scheme, but it also smoothly describes a number of vignettes and links them with consistent themes and characterizations. Issues of race, feminism and family structure are delicately incorporated, and successfully build an emotional connection for the reader. Cooper's misty oil paints depict two proud, happy kids in an often grim urban landscape. Splashes of green leaves and storefront fruit and flower displays further brighten the sidewalks and apartment-building stoops. Though the selection may be especially touching for African Americans, anyone who has a best friend can relate to this realistic but bubbly volume. Ages 5-up. (Apr.)