“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.
What Kind of Book is A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart
Zetta Elliott is a black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels, and stories for children. Her poetry has been published in We Rise, We Resist, We Raise our Voices, and her picture book, Bird, won the Honor Award in Lee &amp;amp; Low Books’ New Voices Contest and the Paterson Prize for Books for Young Readers. She lives in West Philadelphia.
Noa Denmon is a Philadelphia-based artist and illustrator. She is a graduate of The University of the Arts with a BFA in Illustration, and an MAT in Arts and Teaching. She loves patterns, pups, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a great cup of coffee, and all spicy foods. A Place Inside of Me is her first picture book.