Monday, April 18, 2016

Poems in the Attic, by Nikki Grimes: memories glued with words (ages 6-9)

I have loved sharing Nikki Grimes' poetry and stories with students for years, and am delighted to share her most recent picture book today. Poems in the Attic shows how poetry can capture memories and connect generations together, as a young girl reads about her mother's childhood memories. Please join me later this week on Wednesday for an interview with Grimes.
Poems in the Attic
by Nikki Grimes
illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon
audiobook narrated by Sisi Aisha Johnson
Lee & Low Books, 2015
audiobook, Recorded Books, 2015
Your local library
ages 6-9
While visiting her grandma, a seven-year-old girl discovers a cedar box filled with poems--written by her own mother when she was a girl. The girl today writes her own free verse, sharing her discoveries about her mother.
"Grandma's attic is stacked with secrets"
The story unfolds with alternating voices, between the young girl and her mother's poems. Her mother describes her childhood experiences traveling from California to Alaska, and Germany to Japan as a military child.
"Memories can be like sandcastles
the waves wash away.
My mama glued her memories with words
so they would last forever."
I especially love the way the alternating voices let the poems show both internal reflections and special memories. In the page above, the modern young girl contemplates on the way words can "glue her (mother's) memories," so they last and can be shared. The mother's poem brings to life the memory of a special night outing with her dad. These memories act like Wordsworth's "spot of time," helping us savor the moment.

I have enjoyed sharing the picture book, with Elizabeth Zunon's warm illustrations. I have just listened to the audiobook and it's a delightful way to share this story, as well. Sisi Aisha Johnson conveys both the light, young voice of the narrator as well as the gentle, joyous rhythm of the poetry. In my view, the audiobook will work best in companion with the picture book, letting children read and hear the story at the same time.

Please join me on Wednesday for an interview with Nikki Grimes, as part of my series interviewing California poets for young people. The review copies were kindly sent by the publisher, Lee & Low Books. If you make a purchase using the Amazon links on this site, a small portion goes to Great Kid Books. Thank you for your support.

©2016 Mary Ann Scheuer, Great Kid Books


  1. I love your review! Would you be interested in linking up this post with the Diverse Children's Books Link-up? You can find it at Thanks!

  2. So perfect for April! Thanks so much for sharing at the Diverse Children's Book Linky!