A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart
Author: Zetta Elliott
Illustrator: Noa Denmon
Farrar Straus Giroux
On shelves now
There is a place inside of me
a space deep down inside of me
where all my feelings hide
In this powerful, affirming poem by award-winning author Zetta Elliott, a Black child explores his shifting emotions throughout the year. 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.
The subtitle says it all. These words have the power to heal the hearts of readers. This book spoke to my heart already in the dedication. "for Zion and all the children who miss the hand they used to hold...trust that you will laugh again and love again once your heart has had time to heal." Anyone who has lost a loved one can connect with this wish for the young ones.
Readers will accompany a young child who's sharing about the many emotions hiding within. The words are gorgeous, but so are the illustrations. And the illustrations add information. Readers will need to read those too or they may miss a lot.
Unfortunately, there are still way too many communities and families reeling due to police shootings and other instances of violence by the hands of the state. This book is one way for readers to find their way to healing. Children and their loved ones or caregivers will have opportunities to reflect on their own emotions and ways that they can express and experience them. I see this as a path to meaningful discussions or even just a way for loved ones to sit with each other in their pain and healing.
There is beauty in the strength and the hope that this young Black child finds when looking within and when looking at his community.
I highly recommend this book for any home or shared library that serves young people. Anyone can find healing within the pages of this book, but I think that this is particularly true for Black readers. There are certainly ugly things happening, but that is not where the poem ends. The young person feels pride in knowing that through the struggle, his people have emerged strong. In the face of everything, he is able to show compassion and love and so are others in his community. I believe it will move readers toward healing, but will also be empowering. I hope it gets in the hands of many, many readers.