for What Is Goodbye? by Nikki Grimes and Raúl Colón
“One leaves / and many hearts / are broken. / There must be / a better arithmetic / somewhere.” The epigraph to Nikki Grimes’s tender story in poems about a grieving family encapsulates the heartache that spills out on the pages that follow. Jesse and Jerilyn are siblings, and their older brother, Jeron, has just died. In pairs of identically titled poems, Grimes chronicles the cycle of grief in their two skillfully distinguished voices. The poems in Jesse’s voice use simplicity of language, familiar rhyme patterns, and short, metered lines to create what is almost a singsong effect, clearly conveying that he is a younger child. The poems in Jerilyn’s voice are written in free verse, using imagery and metaphor to explore feelings that are more nuanced, establishing her as older. Each pair of poems is a dance of point and counterpoint: the two children do not always experience grief in the same way; at the same time, they are caught up in a cycle of grief that is part of their collective family experience. There is initial shock and sadness, anger and confusion, lingering pain, the slow, almost imperceptible start to healing, and, finally, relief: happiness and wholeness possible once again. Raul Coln’s lovely spot illustrations extend the emotional resonance of this stirring volume. (Ages 9–14)
CCBC Choices 2005 . © Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2005. Used with permission.
Jerilyn and Jesse have lost their beloved older brother. But each of them deals with Jaron's death differently. Jerilyn tries to keep it in and hold it together; Jesse acts out. But after a year of anger, pain, and guilt, they come to understand that it's time to move on. It's time for a new family picture-with one piece missing, yet whole again. Through the alternating voices of a brother and sister, Nikki Grimes eloquently portrays the grieving process in this gem of a book that is honest, powerful, and ultimately hopeful. Nikki Grimes is the distinguished author of more than two-dozen children's books. She received the 2003 Coretta Scott King Award for her novel Bronx Masquerade and a 2003 Coretta Scott King Honor citation for Talkin' About Bessie. Many of her books have been cited as Notable Books by the American Library Association, including Come Sunday, a picture book in verse; Something on My Mind; and Meet Danitra Brown, which also won a Coretta Scott King Honor. She lives in southern California.
Publisher description retrieved from Google Books.