Poems in the Attic by Nikki Grimes Book Review

Poems in the Attic by Nikki Grimes
Illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon
Publisher: Lee & Low Books
Release Date: May 15, 2015

While she is visiting her grandma, a young girl discovers a box of poems in the attic, written by her mother as she was growing up. As her mother moves around the United States as a "military brat" her mother used her poems as a way to record her experiences. The connection to her mother feels closer and closer and the girl decides she should leave some poems of her own for another young girl or boy to find and bond over.

The most embarrasing thing I have ever said to an author was to Nikki Grimes. "I love your books," I had gushed and then added, "I don't usually like or read poetry but yours are great." I'm sure I am not the only one who has said something similar, but the look on Ms. Grimes' face was withering and I immediately knew how stupid that had sounded. It was also untrue. I read poetry a lot. I have numerous poems memorized which I can (and have) pulled out at parties. I have enjoyed novels in verse, understand the difference between a sestina and pantoum, and have read most "classic" poems. When I began at Hamline University, I felt challenged by all these wonderful advisors to really understand poetry and so I read a couple of books about the history of poetry, forms, and analysis. All that said, I am a terrible poet and gave up writing anything decent long ago. I imagine that to a poet, someone, especially someone who claims to be a writer, saying they don't like poetry is the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard.

I know that is a lot of unnecessary information for a book review, but it is important that I let you know (and Nikki Grimes) that I do enjoy poetry greatly and what I really meant was, I am a terrible poet and I am in awe of people who can use language so wonderfully.

This story is such a lovely combination of words and pictures, carefully drawing out the pathos of the characters using two styles of poetry. Although there were moments when the poetic forms felt limiting as I would have liked more descriptions of the places that her Mama found herself in, I felt that the collection as a whole was complete. Obviously this book is relateable for kids whose parents are in the military, but I found myself relating simply because my parents moved me around a bit when I was a kid. I especially love that this book encourages child to write out their feelings and that writing can bring us closer to the people we love.