With exuberance, passion, perception, and wit, 14-year-old Jazmin Shelby fills her notebook with glimpses of her life, neighborhood, family, and dreams in Harlem in the 1960s. Rescued from a series of foster homes and makeshift living arrangements by her older sister, CeCe, Jazmin draws strength and wisdom from her devoted sibling when their alcoholic mother is institutionalized. Jazmin is an observer and a thinker. From her apartment stoop, she savors the rhythm and blues that drifts out of the Garden of Eden Bar & Grill next door and watches customers come and go. At school, she avoids a fight by locking herself in the bathroom and scribbling her anger in verse. When a high-school guidance counselor suggests pursuing a vocational career, Jazmin clings to her aspirations of being a writer and demands a college-prep schedule. Despite her “second hand” appearance, the girl’s goals are high and her attitude is positive. The sadness in her life comes from watching her gentle father die after a car crash and being unable to connect with her troubled, aloof mother. However, Jazmin is resilient. Her lyrical journal is a treasure of sensory observations, intellectual questioning, and moral decision-making. Secondary readers will delight in her candor and imagination. Her gritty determination to survive and succeed is inspiring and heartwarming.
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.