Thursday, February 2, 2017

Dear Nikki Grimes: Review of One Last Word

It's too scary to write a review of work of a poet I admire so much....but I can write a fan letter since to me, Nikki Grimes is a rock star. 

Thank you to Penny Parker Klostermann for hosting Poetry Friday today over on her blog: A Penny and Her Jots.

Dear Nikki Grimes,

I am a different person, a different teacher, librarian and a different poet after reading One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance (Bloomsbury 2017). 
Grimes, Nikki, and Cozbi A. Cabrera. One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance. New York: Bloomsbury, 2017. Print.

Thank you for bringing me to back to poets from Harlem Renaissance days that I admire….and poets new to me. Reading their words and feeling their sharpness is bitter-sweet. These poems will help me bring my students into a deeper understanding of our past including a favorite, Mother to Son. We all have needed this art and teaching tool.

I have always believed, no, known that art is essential for human existence. The art of these souls from Harlem writing their truth in a time that was so blatantly difficult caused moments I had to put One Last Word down. Poetry always slows me down--in a good way. But sometimes, I needed to ponder difficulties over the dishes, then pick the book up again. There are hard things in beautiful words.

Your response poems are beautiful, powerful. Each draws cords tight between our past and today. I can bring One Last Word to my students. They will get it. 

Nikki Grimes, your poems encourage people to put their energy into words. I wish more adults were doing this for young people. I’m so glad I can point to you, your body of work and especially One Last Word as a way into art. I’m glad for the conversations we readers can begin with…Jamar and Dina, Helena and Damian, Tanisha and Josh. They are in our families....and in your pages.

Thank you for a short and sweet description of the golden shovel form, the Harlem Renaissance, and the preface. Today, we get so little time to teach history that short descriptions are welcome diving boards. Even the index is a text structure I will use with my library’s a detail important in my world.

Finally, I am in awe of the graphics in this book and the bios of each artist that include ways to see more, learn more. Pathways to further learning are a gift. And, I must add that the artistic notebook line graphics between poems are an invitation to write our own truths. Genius!

Nikki Grimes, One Last Word, is spectacular. I can only imagine the care put into creating this beauty. You have always set a high bar as a poet….but this book, One Last Word, is a masterpiece. I predict many awards. 

Thank you again and again for the love you are sending out to our world.Your friend and student,


PS: Don't take just my word for One Last Word. There are more reviews that applaud Nikki Grimes' work.

(click) School Library Journal

(click) Kirkus 


  1. Wonderful review. I haven't read it, but it sounds like it gave you plenty to feed you for a long time!

  2. Beautifully done, Linda. I have it, but now you've made me want to start reading right now! I'm sure it will be a treasure for teachers to turn to often.

  3. Linda, now I want to read this book before anything else. I'mm going to the library today to request a copy.

  4. Oh my. You've really made me want to to One Last Word! Thanks for this post!

  5. Putting this one on my to buy list, thanks for sharing the power and beauty of this new collection, Linda.

  6. Adding this to my TBR list too! Love your fan letter :).

  7. I embraced the Harlem Renaissance this week, as well! I'm waiting desperately for this one...and your post has just intensified my longing!

  8. Linda, you have completed sold this book with a great review in an interesting format. Thank you.

  9. Linda, this is a great book review! I am going to add this to my list. Thank you for sharing!

  10. What a clever, thoughtful review, Linda. thanks for sharing.

  11. "There are hard things in beautiful words." Thank you, Linda, for this glorious post about Nikki's words, and for the passion in your own.

  12. I wish I had this book for next week - I'm talking about the Harlem Renaissance with my eighth graders. Looks wonderful!

  13. Can't wait to get my hands on this book, Linda, even more so now that I have read your fan letter. =)


Friendly, positive comments and feedback are always welcome here. Please let me know I'm not just whistling in the dark!