FICTION

The Watcher

illus. by Bryan Collier. 42p. Eerdmans. Oct. 2017. Tr $17. ISBN 9780802854452.
COPY ISBN
Gr 3–5—Drawing from Psalm 121, Grimes weaves a dual narrative around two young classmates using the Golden Shovel format. (Each poem uses the words of one line of the original psalm as its ending words.) Jordan makes good choices despite a meek and downtrodden nature. Tanya acts like a bully, her hostility rooted in self-consciousness about stuttering and academic struggles. Both are encouraged by family members to turn to God, who is always watching over them. The message is heavy at times: "where/stutterers aren't treated like spit." But Grimes's skillful use of enjambment keeps the verse fresh. The text is also a valuable study in perspective, offering insight into the character's motivations and fears. Both gravitate to an aptly named new student, "Israel." Soon after, the speakers are brought together by Jordan's commitment to choose kindness and Tanya's willingness to change. Grimes ends with a brief explanation and encourages young readers to try their hands at this poetry form. Collier's mixed-media illustrations accompany the text, incorporating paintings and also photographs of real New York City students.
VERDICT A strong portrayal of pious characteristics to foster empathy in kids; a fine addition to religious-themed poetry collections.

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.


RELATED 

TOP STORIES

LIBRARY EDUCATION

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COMMUNITY FORM

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

COLLECTION DEVELOPMENT

Kids are using VR to explore worlds and create new ones

Get connected. Join our global community of more than 200,000 librarians and educators.