A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart

by Zetta Elliott (Author) Noa Denmon (Illustrator)

A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart
Reading Level: 2nd − 3rd Grade

In this powerful, affirming poem by award-winning author Zetta Elliott, a Black child explores his shifting emotions throughout the year.

There is a place inside of me

a space deep down inside of me

where all my feelings hide.

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.

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Horn Book Magazine

This book delivers positivity, despite the inclusion of police brutality, a Black Lives Matter protest, and a vigil for the dead--all of which affirm the child's realities . . . A well-crafted, twenty-first-century love poem by two truth-telling Black women artists and activists. --The Horn Book

Publishers Weekly

This poignant poem follows a Black child as they process emotions following a tragedy and find renewal in community action. The child gleans pleasure from skateboarding and playing basketball, until police killing a girl disrupts their equilibrium. As the protagonist recognizes internal sorrow, fear, and anger in turn, they join Black Lives Matter protests and attend a candlelight vigil. Identifying the pride, compassion, and hope they draw from community, the child ultimately concludes, "I am in love with/ my people/ all people," and determines to "love myself/ most of all." Denmon's textured, dynamic illustrations situate a compassionate community among murals of flowers and vines. The characters' varying ages, cultures, skin tones, features, and personal styles reflect a diversity of Black experiences, notably in a spread that portrays Black visionaries through the ages (including Beyoncé, Maya Angelou, Malcolm X, and Louis Armstrong). A resonant exultation of community and the importance of self-reflection. Ages 4-8. (July)

Copyright 2020 Publishers Weekly, LLC Used with permission.

Review quotes

Zetta Elliott
Zetta Elliott was born in Canada and moved to the United States in 1994. She is the author of over twenty-five books for young readers, including the award-winning picture books Bird and Melena's Jubilee. She is also a contributor to the anthology We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, published by Crown Books for Young Readers. Elliott is an advocate for greater diversity and equity in publishing. A longtime resident of Brooklyn, she currently lives in Illinois. Learn more at zettaelliott.com and follow her on Twitter (@zettaelliott) and on Facebook (Author Zetta Elliott).
Lexile Measure
Guided Reading Level
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (Byr)
Publication date
July 20, 2020
BISAC categories
JUV039050 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Emotions & Feelings
JUV011010 - Juvenile Fiction | People & Places | United States - African-American
JUV039120 - Juvenile Fiction | Social Themes | Prejudice & Racism
JUV070000 - Juvenile Fiction | Poetry (see also Stories in Verse)
Library of Congress categories
African Americans
Stories in rhyme
NCTE Notable Poetry Book
Evanston Public Library's Top 100 Great Book for Kids
Caldecott Medal

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