Poems in the Attic

By Nikki Grimes
Illustrations by Elizabeth Zunon

1. You mention that moving around a lot meant making new friends, then having to leave them.  Do you have a fail-proof ice breaker to start talking to someone new?
I have nothing original to offer, in this regard.  I simply introduce myself and ask that person's name, find out where they're from, and take it from there.  Generally, a warm, authentic smile is all the ice breaker you'll ever need.  Beyond that, it helps to chat long enough to discover some common ground.

2. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you choose and why?
I lived in Sweden for six years, and I'd love to return.  The country is beautiful, I have good friends there, and I enjoy living in an international environment where many languages are spoken.  Of course, the same could be said of many major cities in America, so I think I'll just stay here!  Home is best.

3. Who is your favorite poet and why?
That's always an impossible question, because I have many, many favorites!  On this day, though, I'll choose Lucille Clifton.  I'm particularly partial to poets who are equally accessible to children, young adult, and adult readers.  Clifton's poetry, in particular, is stylistically original, deceptively simple, always layered and complex, and written with an impeccable ear for lyrical language.  Her work is thoughtful, provocative, and inviting, and her voice is so clear, it is nearly audible.  When I read her poetry, I walk away with the sense that I've just had a wonderful visit with a remarkable friend.  And I have.

4. Were either of your parents in the Air Force?  If not why did you choose to focus on that branch of the military for Poems in the Attic?
My parents were not in the Air Force, but several of the military brats I interviewed for this book had parents, or spouses who were.  There was a secondary reason for my choice, though.  There were certain regions of the world I wanted to include in my story, so some of my choices were dictated by whatever military base was situated nearest the location in question.  More often than not, those bases belonged to the Air Force.

5. What do you hope readers will take away from Poems in the Attic?
For children who are military brats, themselves, and children who, for whatever reason,  face repeated uprooting, I want them to know they are not alone.  I hope they will make an effort to discover the positive aspects of each place they live in.  Finally, I hope they will latch onto poetry as a way to express their feelings about their lives, and to celebrate whatever place they call home.

About This Title

Guided Reading:




Interest Level:

Grades 1 - 6

Reading Level:

Grades 4 - 5


African/African American Interest, Childhood Experiences and Memories, Families, Friendship, Heroism, Home, Identity/Self Esteem/Confidence, Leadership, Mentors, Mothers, People In Motion, Realistic Fiction, Respect/Citizenship, Responsibility, Poetry


Poetry Grades 3-6, Lee & Low Poetry Collection, Bank Street College of Education Best Books of 2016 Collection, Mother's Day Collection, Family Diversity , Bestsellers and Favorites Collection, African American English Collection Grades PreK-2, African American English Collection Grades 3-6, Pedro Noguera Diverse Collection Grades 3-5, Social and Emotional Learning Collection, Perspective-Taking Collection

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