This blog is a continuation of a class assignment for the TWU course 5603, Literature for Children and Young Adults. Subsequent entries are for TWU course 5653, Multicultural Literature for Children and Young Adults. The new entries are for TWU course 5663, Poetry for Children and Young Adults.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Poetry 5663 Hopscotch Love: A Family Treasury of Love Poems

Hopscotch Love
A Family Treasury of Love Poems
By Nikki Grimes

Cover image retrieved 1/31/13 from

Grimes, Nikki, and Melodye Rosales. Hopscotch Love: A Family Treasury of Love Poems. New York: Lothrop, Lee & Shepard Books, 1999. ISBN 978-0-688-15667-1

Critical Analysis
The subtitle says it all: a treasury. This quaint book features gentle love poems, one after the other. When a reader sees “love poems,” the mind often imagines sappy, sentimental puppy love fare, or How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. This unassuming collection instead gives the reader a sampling of love on many levels, in many relationship settings. Parent/child, grandparent/child, siblings, friends, couples, and yes, teen crushes are the subjects for this compilation of twenty-two poems.

Each poem is unique in its emotive qualities, yet genuine adoration is easily inferred. Ms. Grimes begins with the title poem, an ode to a childhood friend who is no longer around. The longing for that good friend is apparent. A beautiful full-page illustration graces the facing page, as is the case with many poems in this book. All illustrations lend a visual to clarify the joy in the heart of the one pouring their heart out into a given poem. While the illustrations are not necessary, as the words draw a complete mental image, they definitely add value to the book.

Poems vary in length and format. This variation is quite effective, as the circumstances of love vary greatly and deserve differing presentation. Relationships are a core element of human existence, so every reader of any age can find relatable examples of love between people. Readers will find themselves smiling as they recall people in their own life who any given poem could be about.  

Poems in Hopscotch Love are arranged with a gentle flow throughout the book. The table of contents hints at the special relationships and expressions of love herein, though the reader must take each poem individually, savoring, smiling, analyzing how the poem relates to his/her own life. This is a heart-warming collection that should be enjoyed by readers of all ages.

Book Reviews
Hazel Rochman (Booklist, February 15, 1999 (Vol. 95, No. 12))
A long way from Grimes' tough, poignant YA novel Jazmin's Notebook, (1998), these 22 upbeat one-or two-page verses are mainly greeting-card sentimental, with a few funny vignettes and lots of warm affection. The lines are short; the words are very simple. The red cover and creamy pages fit with the valentine cuddly style. Category: Middle Readers.

Kirkus (Kirkus Reviews, 1999)
Poems about love indeed hopscotch among the generations, and every one of the 22 entries tells a story. Several of the poems bring up black history, e.g., a strong poem about the love between Medgar and Myrlie Evers, and a somewhat less convincing one about a father and daughter trading anecdotes about Malcolm X. The illustrations capture familiar situations, from a group of teenagers together in school to a lone girl shyly reacting to unexpected compliments. Grimes and Rosales succeed in imparting the small, telling moments in loving relationships.

Best Book Lists; Awards
Best Books:
Children's Catalog, Eighteenth Edition, 2001 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Children's Catalog, Nineteenth Edition, 2006 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Middle And Junior High School Library Catalog, Eighth Edition, 2000 ; H.W. Wilson; United States
Middle and Junior High School Library Catalog, Ninth Edition, 2005 ; H.W. Wilson; United States

Awards, Honors, Prizes:
Society of School Librarians International Book Awards, 1999 Honor Language Arts - K-6 Novels United States

Selected Poem
                      Miss Lee

              Miss Lee appeared
              Just as I took my seat.

              She saw my lacy
              Valentine in chalk.

              She reached for her
              Eraser instantly.

              I held my breath
              Convinced my heart would stop.

              But then she turned
              To face the class and smiled  --

              And left my blackboard
              Valentine untouched.

Learning Extensions
·      This poem could be used many ways. To introduce it as part of a Valentine unit, begin by drawing a lacy Valentine on the board when students are not in the room. Draw their attention to it as you are ready to share the poem. Ask for what reasons it might be on the board. Share the poem and elicit feedback on emotions expressed throughout the poem. Ask students to name other ways to surprise someone with a Valentine.
·      Next have students create Valentine hearts of their own and share them in unexpected ways or places.

·      This poem would also make a good introduction to a lesson on random acts of kindness. Have students make observations about the impact the unexpected lacy heart had on the teacher.
·      Students will create a special surprise to share with someone whose day they would like to brighten. Have students journal a reflection on how this random act of kindness for someone else also lifted their own spirits and brightened their own day.

Other Books by Nikki Grimes
Author’s website:
From a Child's Heart (1993), illustrated by Brenda Joysmith
Meet Danitra Brown (1994), illustrated by Floyd Cooper (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Book)
Portrait of Mary (1994)
Come Sunday (1996), illustrated by Michael Bryant
Wild, Wild Hair (1997), illustrated by George Cephas Ford
Jazmin's Notebook (1998) (Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book)
A Dime a Dozen (1998), illustrated by Angelo
My Man Blue (1999), illustrated by Jerome Lagarrigue (Marion Vannett Ridgway Award)
Hopscotch Love (1999), illustrated by Melodye Benson Rosales
At Break of Day (1999), illustrated by Paul Morin
Aneesa Lee and the Weaver's Gift (2000), illustrated by Ashley Bryan
Shoe Magic (2001), illustrated by Terry Widener
A Pocketful of Poems (2001), illustrated by Javaka Steptoe
Stepping Out with Grandma Mac (2002), illustrated by Angelo
C is for City (2002), illustrated by Pat Cummings
When Daddy Prays (2002), illustrated by Tim Ladwig
Bronx Masquerade (2002), (Coretta Scott King Author Award) (Best Children's Book of 2002, Association of Theological Booksellers)
Talkin' About Bessie (2002), illustrated by E.B. Lewis (Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award, Author Honor Book)
Tai Chi Morning (2004), illustrated by Ed Young
A Ray with Daddy (2004), illustrated by Nicole Tadgell
What is Goodbye? (2004), illustrated by Raul Colón (ALA Notable Book)
It's Raining Laughter, photographs by Myles C. Pinkney
At Jerusalem's Gate, illustrated by David Frampton
Danitra Brown, Class Clown (2005), illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Dark Sons (2005), (Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book)
Thanks a Million (2006), illustrated by Cozbi A. Carrera
Welcome, Precious (2006), illustrated by Bryan Collier
The Road to Paris (2007), (Coretta Scott King Author Honor Book)
When Gorilla Goes Walking (2007), illustrate by Shane Evans
Oh, Brother! (2007), illustrated by Mike Benny
Barack Obama: Son of Promise, Child of Hope (2008), illustrated by Bryan Collier (NY Times Bestseller)
Out of the Dark: Nikki Grimes, Author at Work (2009)
Make Way for Dyamonde Daniel (2009), illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Rich: a Dyamonde Daniel Book (2009), illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Voices of Christmas (2009), illustrated by Eric Velasquez
A Girl Named Mister (2010)
Almost Zero: a Dyamonde Daniel Book (2010), illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
Planet Middle School (2011)

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