Succinct poetry shines in this impassioned celebration of history; the stories of this African-American family traveling the...

POEMS IN THE ATTIC

A girl discovers her mother’s childhood poems in her grandmother’s attic and embarks on a journey through family history that inspires her own poetic tribute to her mother.

The mother’s poetry tells of a childhood of constant resettling as the daughter of a base-traveling Air Force captain. Grimes’ poems and Zunon’s paint-and-collage illustrations take readers through the lands and cultures surrounding global U.S Air Force bases, including stories of aurora borealis observed in Alaska, the cherry blossoms seen in Japan, the hills hiked in Germany, and the mountains climbed in Colorado. (The specific bases are identified in a note in the backmatter.) Poetic forms alternate between the free verse of the daughter and her mother’s tanka, an ancient five-line poetry form originating in Japan (and also further explained in the backmatter). Each spread presents one of her mother’s poems within a large, bright illustration and the narrator’s free-verse rumination on it, placed above a smaller, oval vignette. According to her author’s note, Grimes drew on the varied stories of friends who grew up as military brats to create this imagined intergenerational dialogue. The standout “Grandma Says” enlightens readers to the power of reflective writing: “My mama glued her memories with words / so they would last forever.”

Succinct poetry shines in this impassioned celebration of history; the stories of this African-American family traveling the globe are rich with heart and color. (Picture book/poetry. 6-11)

Pub Date: May 15, 2015

ISBN: 978-1-62014-027-7

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Lee & Low Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 23, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2015

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This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for...

DOG DAYS

From the Carver Chronicles series , Vol. 1

A gentle voice and familiar pitfalls characterize this tale of a boy navigating the risky road to responsibility. 

Gavin is new to his neighborhood and Carver Elementary. He likes his new friend, Richard, and has a typically contentious relationship with his older sister, Danielle. When Gavin’s desire to impress Richard sets off a disastrous chain of events, the boy struggles to evade responsibility for his actions. “After all, it isn’t his fault that Danielle’s snow globe got broken. Sure, he shouldn’t have been in her room—but then, she shouldn’t be keeping candy in her room to tempt him. Anybody would be tempted. Anybody!” opines Gavin once he learns the punishment for his crime. While Gavin has a charming Everyboy quality, and his aversion to Aunt Myrtle’s yapping little dog rings true, little about Gavin distinguishes him from other trouble-prone protagonists. He is, regrettably, forgettable. Coretta Scott King Honor winner English (Francie, 1999) is a teacher whose storytelling usually benefits from her day job. Unfortunately, the pizzazz of classroom chaos is largely absent from this series opener.

This outing lacks the sophistication of such category standards as Clementine; here’s hoping English amps things up for subsequent volumes. (Fiction. 6-9)

Pub Date: Dec. 17, 2013

ISBN: 978-0-547-97044-8

Page Count: 128

Publisher: Clarion

Review Posted Online: Oct. 2, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2013

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A moving exploration of the places we come from and the people who shape us—not to be missed.

SOME PLACES MORE THAN OTHERS

On a birthday trip to New York City, a girl learns about her roots, Harlem, and how to stay true to herself.

Eleven-year-old sneakerhead Amara is struggling to feel seen and heard. A new baby sister is on the way, her mom still wants to put her in dresses, and that birthday trip from the Portland, Oregon, suburbs to New York City that she so desperately wants feels out of reach. When Amara gets a family-history assignment, she is finally able to convince her mom to say yes to the trip, since it will allow Amara to meet her dad’s side of the family in person. In addition to the school project, her mom gives Amara a secret mission: get her dad and grandpa to spend time alone together to repair old wounds. Harlem proves unlike any place Amara has ever been, and as she explores where her father grew up she experiences black history on every street. Watson is a master at character development, with New York City and especially Harlem playing central roles. Through her all-black cast she seamlessly explores issues of identity, self, and family acceptance. Although the ending feels rushed, with no resolution between Amara and her mom, Amara’s concluding poem is powerful.

A moving exploration of the places we come from and the people who shape us—not to be missed. (Fiction. 9-11)

Pub Date: Sept. 3, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-68119-108-9

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: May 8, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2019

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