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


4 years and up

  • Poetry
  • Own Voices
  • Black Lives Matter
  • Social-Emotional Learning
  • Critical Thinking Skills
  • Media Consumption

Zetta Elliott & Noa Denmon

Summary: This book just received a Caldecott Honor, which is incredibly well-deserved!

This poetic story centers around the narrator working through feelings surrounding a police shooting of a young girl, which is not shown in the book, only a news headline on TV. The nuances of children articulating the world around them shows incredible depth within the story, and pushes back against the narrative that young people don’t pay attention.

The daily threat of police violence is very real, full stop. The need for space to process and use social-emotional skills is critical. A Place Inside of Me covers a year of emotions, positive and negative, subtle and powerful. Joy, peace, yearning for freedom. Anger, unfairness, a drive to make change.

An aspect of the story that I really enjoyed was how the child is seen working through and processing feelings during everyday activities. Skateboarding, late at night, seeing murals in the community, compassionately sitting with a friend. I think this shows that the wheels are always turning in kids’ minds, and sometimes the best thinking comes from doing something you love, like skateboarding. Black Joy is an act of resistance, as is pride and celebration. A Place Inside of Me is stunningly created, and exactly the type of book that we need in classrooms. It can help with the emotional processing of all types of traumatic events, and help to remind that there are positive moments worth savoring as well.

This book was kindly sent by Macmillan Kids, and I couldn’t be more thrilled to be able to review it. All opinions and decision to review is my own!

Zetta Elliott

From Zetta’s website: “I’m a Black feminist writer of poetry, plays, essays, novels, and stories for children. I was born and raised in Canada, but have lived in the US for over 20 years. I earned my PhD in American Studies from NYU in 2003; I have taught at Ohio University, Louisiana State University, Mount Holyoke College, Hunter College, Bard High School Early College, and Borough of Manhattan Community College. My poetry has been published in New Daughters of AfricaWe Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices, the Cave Canem anthology The Ringing Ear: Black Poets Lean SouthCheck the Rhyme: an Anthology of Female Poets and Emcees, and Coloring Book: an Eclectic Anthology of Fiction and Poetry by Multicultural Writers. My novella, Plastique, was excerpted in T Dot Griots: an Anthology of Toronto’s Black Storytellers, and my plays have been staged in New York, Cleveland, and Chicago. I am an advocate for greater diversity and equity in publishing, and I have self-published numerous illustrated books for younger readers under my own imprint, Rosetta Press; 3 were named Best of the Year by the Bank Street Center for Children’s Literature, and Benny Doesn’t Like to Be Hugged was a first-grade fiction selection for the 2019 Scripps National Spelling Bee. Dragons in a Bag, a middle grade fantasy novel, was published by Random House in 2018; the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) named it a Notable Children’s Book. Its sequel, The Dragon Thief, was named a Best Middle Grade Book of 2019 by CBC BooksSay Her Name, a young adult poetry collection, was published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers in January 2020; it was named a 2020 Book of the Year for Young People by Quill & Quire and a 2020 “Best of the Best” YA Title by the Black Caucus of the American Library Association; it was also a nominee for the YALSA 2021 Nonfiction Award and a Top Ten title for Rise: A Feminist Book ProjectA Place Inside of Me: a Poem to Heal the Heart from FSG was named a 2021 Notable Poetry Book by the National Council of Teachers of English. I currently live in Evanston, IL.”

Noa Denmon

Noa Denmon (Uarts alumna ‘18) is a Pittsburgh-based artist and illustrator who has worked with clients such as: The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Macmillan Publishers. 

She has also completed a children’s book for FSG books entitled “A Place Inside Me” due for publication in July 2020. 

She is an illustrator interested in movement and patterns, and she was heavily influenced by the industrial landscape of Pittsburgh and how that contributed to her identity. Much of her artwork is decades-based, she was heavily inspired by Diana Ross, Cher, and David Bowie. Today, she works to bring these bright colors and patterns into stories uplifting the underrepresented; she hopes to create work that displays humanity and all of its differences. 

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