During a visit to her grandma's house, a young girl discovers a box of poems in the attic, poems written by her mother when she was growing up. Her mother's family often moved around the United States and the world because her father was in the Air Force. Over the years, her mother used poetry to record her experiences in the many places the family lived.
Reading the poems and sharing those experiences through her mother's eyes, the young girl feels closer to her mother than ever before. To let her mother know this, she creates a gift: a book with her own poems and copies of her mother's. And when she returns her mother's poems to the box in the attic, she leaves her own poems too, for someone else to find, someday.
Using free verse for the young girl's poems and tanka for her mother's, master poet Nikki Grimes creates a tender intergenerational story that speaks to every child's need to hold onto special memories of home, no matter where that place might be.
Grades 2-5. A book about discoveries, this celebrates poetry and the quixotic life of a military family. A young girl responds in free verse to the poems she uncovers in the attic, poems her mother wrote in tanka (a form of Japanese poetry) about the wonder of her experiences living throughout the world. The mother’s voice dominates through longer poems and Zunon’s larger illustrations, but the daughter’s poems appear first on each page, and the connection between the poems is heartfelt. Their love of language and the natural world bind them together. There is also a rhythm to their experiences as well (the daughter writes of sand castles, and the mother, of a grunion run). Notes encourage readers to try their hands at either poetic form, while the pictures, a combination of acrylic, oil, and collage, encourage interest in the many places described. Pair with How I Discovered Poetry, by Marilyn Nelson (2014), for a slightly older audience interested in writing poetry and understanding the turmoil and adventure of being raised in a military family.