In a series of thoughtful, interlocking poems, Grimes skillfully uses the metaphor of weaving to explore the world of a talented girl. The young weaver’s strands of black, white and Japanese heritage have “produced a pleasing,/ living, breathing tapestry/ christened Aneesa Lee.” The poet reveals Aneesa Lee’s life and thoughts through the intricate patterns of her work (“a herringbone of sadness,/ threads of anger and gladness”; “Her yarns express her deepest thoughts/ in variegated tints”). The themes of the book—family, community, artistic vision, dedication to craft and love—build to a resonant climax in the last poem where Grimes suggests that, “From the age of bronze/ To the age of space,/ From Ankara to Zanzibar,/…/ The loom connects us all/ In a community/ Of cloth.” Bryan’s sweeping tempera and gouache illustrations include all the shades of yarn that Aneesa Lee enumerates, as well as a cast of many colors. His paintings reflect the many moods of the poems, each framed in a vibrant textile pattern. A list of terms integral to the craft will aid novices. For adult weavers, the book will be a treasure, and for children, it serves as a glimpse into the intricacies not only of weaving, but the patterns of daily life.
Nikki Grimes began penning poetry at the age of six. Her many award-winning titles include the picture books Talkin’ About Bessie: The Story of Aviator Elizabeth Coleman, which won the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award and a Coretta Scott King Author Honor, and Meet Danitra Brown, which won a Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor. Coretta Scott King Author Honors went to her novels The Road to Paris, Jazmin’s Notebook, and Dark Sons, and her novel Bronx Masquerade won the Coretta Scott King Author Award. She lives in Corona, California.