Poems in the Attic

By New York Times

A 7-year-old girl, exploring in Grandma’s attic, finds a box of poems her mother wrote as a child. On each lefthand page, Grimes (“Chasing Freedom,” “Words With Wings”) has her narrator write in short bursts of free verse, while on the right-side pages the poems her mother wrote are in the Japanese five-line form tanka. The result is a story that conveys decades of family history with an almost magical concision. The little girl follows her mother’s many moves around the world as an “Air Force Brat,” as the girl’s first poem is titled. We see the mother as a young girl in Texas, Japan and Germany, sharing adventures with her own father when he’s on leave and missing him when he is not. Through reading her mother’s poems, the girl realizes how much she misses her after just three days. Elizabeth Zunon’s warm, bright illustrations provide a cheerful balance, but it’s the ache of a parent’s absence that most powerfully animates the book.