Poems in the Attic
By School Library Journal
During a visit to Grandma’s, a seven-year-old girl discovers a stash of poems in the attic written by her mother as a child. Each subsequent set of pages pairs a poem written by the girl with one by her mama. An air force brat, Mama wrote a different entry in each new place her family was stationed, showcasing the experiences of her “childhood on wings,” from painting luminarias in New Mexico to kayaking in Virginia to catching cherry blossoms like snowflakes in Japan. Her writing also touches upon painful situations, such as leaving her friends behind when she moved and missing her father when he was away. The daughter’s poems compare her and her grown-up mother’s lives with the experiences detailed by Mama as a girl (“It’s funny to think of Mama/making a mess with arts and crafts”). Sweet and accessible but never simplistic, this collection captures the experience of a military childhood with graceful sophistication. Grimes uses different styles of poem for each voice (free verse for the daughter and tanka poems for the mother), a choice that she discusses in an explanatory note on poetry forms that will serve budding poets and teachers alike. Rendered in acrylic, oil, and collage, Zunon’s warm, vibrant illustrations complement the text perfectly. Readers with an especially keen interest in the locations highlighted can look to a complete list of Air Force Bases appended. VERDICT A gem of a book.