Books by Hope Anita Smith

Released: Aug. 13, 2019

"A deeply moving, beautifully written portrayal of an evil that cannot be allowed to be forgotten. (author's note) (Historical verse fiction. 10-adult)"
Moishe Moskowitz's painful experiences in the Holocaust are expressed in brief, gut-wrenching poems. Read full book review >
Released: May 16, 2017

"A masterful salute to fatherhood. (Picture book/poetry. 5-9)"
A collection of poetry that celebrates dads and all they do with and for their children. Read full book review >
MOTHER POEMS by Hope Anita Smith
Released: April 1, 2009

Having taken on the departure—and subsequent return—of a father in The Way a Door Closes (illustrated by Shane W. Evans, 2003) and Keeping the Night Watch (illustrated by E.B. Lewis, 2008), Smith turns to the loss of a mother. "[C]an't nobody love me / like my momma do," exults the narrator, a little girl at the opening of the book. Her mother is the center of her life, her stepfather notable only when he's away and she can snuggle in bed with her mother. So when her mother dies, the now-preteen girl is a "motherless shell." The raw emotion contained in these poems is undeniably visceral. But the unnamed narrator seems to exist in a vacuum; the glancing references to friends and relatives are not enough to answer readers' natural questions about whom she lives with, how they help (or not) the grieving child—a curiosity after two such piercing looks at the effect of a loss on an entire family. The author supplies her own visual accompaniment, lovely torn-paper collages that complement but do not fill the gaps in the text. Beautiful but incomplete. (Poetry. 8-12)Read full book review >
Released: April 1, 2008

C.J. and his family return in this companion to 2003's The Way a Door Closes, winner of the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe Award for New Talent in 2004. As this slim verse volume opens, C.J.'s father has returned to the fold, but his betrayal has left C.J. raw. He sees his brother playing one-on-one with Daddy, sees his sister snuggle up to Daddy for bedtime stories instead of him, and he hopes, "one day, / that my snowy mountain of anger will be / so weighed down with Daddy's apology / I will be overwhelmed / by an avalanche of forgiveness." Spring follows fall, however, and even as C.J. gropes his way through adolescence he finds himself understanding that, "In spite of everything, / our foundation is firm." Smith's verses capture anger, sadness, fear, disillusionment and reconciliation. Lewis's watercolors, though characteristically beautiful, lack the emotional intensity of Shane Evans's illustrations in the previous volume; in electing to illustrate the poems' images, moreover, they leach the language of its poetic potential. Something of a disappointment visually, but the essential poignancy shines through. (Poetry. 10-14)Read full book review >
THE WAY A DOOR CLOSES by Hope Anita Smith
Released: May 1, 2003

A spare cycle of mostly free verse details the anguish of one family when the father loses his job. Thirteen-year-old C.J. traces, in separate poems, the arc taken by his family from pre-layoff security to despair when his father leaves, shutting the door behind him, "and we were vacuum-sealed inside. . . . I can tell a lot by / the way a door closes." C.J.'s own transformation from youthful hero-worship to pained disillusionment is delicately limned, making his conscious decision to commit to his family all the more poignant. Evans's illustrations are characteristically powerful, the naturalistic renderings carrying great emotion. Newcomer Smith's verse is not so well-seasoned; it is occasionally more prosaic than poetic, and its one attempt at rhymed verse seems quite forced. For all this, however, C.J.'s story is a touching and memorable one, its eventual happy ending not a capitulation but a blessing. (Poetry. 8-12)Read full book review >