Children's Bookshelf: One Last Word

Oct 9, 2017

On today's edition of the Children's Bookshelf, Dr. Sue Ann Martin reviews One Last Word: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by  Nikki Grimes. She says it's a great collection of poetry and art for 10 to 14 year olds.

ONE LAST WORD: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes and illustrated by multiple outstanding artists is a very special book of poetry that brings poems written by African American writers between the 1920s and the middle of the 1930s into the 21st Century.

Grimes uses the “golden shovel” method to turn out new exciting poems of her own that speak to today’s social issues and creative possibilities. Selected lines from the older poetic gems are used in the newer poems. Each selected word can be found at the end of each line of Grimes’ poems. If you read the last word of each line from top to bottom, then, the borrowed line is complete.

There are eight Harlem Renaissance writers honored in this way including Gwendolyn Bennett, Countee Cullen, Paul Lawrence Dunbar, Langston Hughes and Clara Ann Thompson.

Nikki Grimes’ poems are beautiful, bold, vibrant and victorious.  All of the poems are visually interpreted by award-winning artists including E. B. Lewis, Christopher Myers, Javaka Steptoe and Brian Pinkney.

ONE LAST WORD: Wisdom from the Harlem Renaissance by Nikki Grimes is an outstanding collection of poetry and art for 10-14 year olds (Bloomsbury, 2017). 

Questions and Activities for 'One Last Word'

Study the poem “A Safe Place” by Nikki Grimes and the accompanying illustration by Frank Morrison on page 26/27. Write several paragraphs about the girl in the picture. Give her a name and a destination. Who could she be, where could she be going, what could she be writing down in her notebook and why is she dressed the way she is?

Nikki Grimes has written an opening poem and a closing poem for this book. Select one of these poems and, using the “golden shovel” approach, write a poem of your own by borrowing a “striking line” from Grimes. Remember, your new poem can but does not have to be on the same subject as the Grimes’ poem.

Do you have a favorite poem included in this book from the Harlem Renaissance? Do some research on the poet who wrote it to discover more about the poet. Share what you find with a teacher, parent or friend including other poems by this same poet. Keep your findings in a Harlem Renaissance scrapbook and add to it in the future.