“A powerfully poetic expression of a black child’s varied experiences.”
Award-winning Elliott powerfully expresses a child’s range of emotions resulting from carefree summer days, a news broadcast about the shooting of a black girl, a Black Lives Matter protest, and finding oneself through identifying with a community. As the text follows the boy’s emotional journey, each stanza of the poetry talks about an emotion “inside of me . . . deep down inside of me,” paired with descriptive, resounding feelings. Beginning with the joy felt while skateboarding, the boy moves through sorrow, fear, and anger at the news of the shooting, followed by peace, compassion, hope, and love as his desire and hunger to be free builds to self-realization and a newfound pride for his people. Elliott’s passionate text is moving, with diction like “a knot of electric emotion / seething, sizzling, burning,” though the repetitive motif of “inside of me” feels a little tiring by the end of the book. As a debut picture book for Denmon, the beautiful use of color and modern style are praiseworthy, perfectly fitting the eloquent text and capturing the overall tone of cultural heritage. While the message of Elliott’s text and the focus on working through emotions is applicable to any child affected by a difficult life experience, the book is less of a tool to talk about emotions and more of a focus on heritage.
In this powerful, affirming poem by award-winning author Zetta Elliott, a Black child explores his shifting emotions throughout the year.
There is a place inside of me
a space deep down inside of me
where all my feelings hide.
Summertime is filled with joy―skateboarding and playing basketball―until his community is deeply wounded by a police shooting. As fall turns to winter and then spring, fear grows into anger, then pride and peace.
In her stunning debut, illustrator Noa Denmon articulates the depth and nuances of a child’s experiences following a police shooting―through grief and protests, healing and community―with washes of color as vibrant as his words.
Here is a groundbreaking narrative that can help all readers―children and adults alike―talk about the feelings hiding deep inside each of us.
<b>Zetta Elliott </b>is a black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels, and stories for children. Her poetry has been published in <i>We Rise, We Resist, We Raise our Voices, </i>and her picture book, <i>Bird</i>, won the Honor Award in Lee & Low Books’ New Voices Contest and the Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers. She lives in West Philadelphia.
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