Mother Poems

Mother Poems

4.0 1
by Hope Anita Smith
     
 

Ayoung girl thinks of her mom as a superhero, a doctor, her North Star. She feels loved in her mother's arms and capable of conquering the world. But when her beloved role model unexpectedly dies, she cannot even cry; sadness is too overwhelming. As she struggles with grief, she must learn how to carry on while keeping the memory of her mother very much alive

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Overview

Ayoung girl thinks of her mom as a superhero, a doctor, her North Star. She feels loved in her mother's arms and capable of conquering the world. But when her beloved role model unexpectedly dies, she cannot even cry; sadness is too overwhelming. As she struggles with grief, she must learn how to carry on while keeping the memory of her mother very much alive inside her heart.

In moving poems, Hope Anita Smith explores a personal yet emotionally universal subject: the death of a parent. Through the eyes of a child and then a young woman, these poignant poems, together with stunning folk-art images, powerfully capture the complicated feelings of someone who shows great hope, strength, and will to overcome.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Illustrations in torn-paper collage of a small girl, then a grown teenager, accompany the affecting poems on Smith's latest collection. Scenes of intimacy with a mother, fixing hair or soothing sadness…give way to stark grief when the mother suddenly dies. Smith makes simple drama out of the void she leaves …and of the daughter's acceptance of life with others she learns to love, while not forgetting.” —New York Times Book Review

“Smith's (Keeping the Night Watch) deeply personal collection of poems, accompanied by free-form collages, forms a distinct narrative arc, with early poems striking an easy tone…But after the mother's death, the poems draw on complex emotions and memories that lead, eventually, to rejuvenation.” —Publishers Weekly

“The collection has a depth in character growth that lingers and brings readers back to savor moments again and again.” —School Library Journal

“In this touching sequence of poems, a girl speaks of her relationship with her mother...its literality rings true as the expression of a preteen girl, and the unapologetic sentimentality will touch readers. Each poem imbues the everyday with a luminous sheen of loss, anger, and grief walking the girl through periods of bargaining, sadness, and ache to acceptance and loving memory. Textured paper torn and shaped into faceless figures forms iconic representations of love and longing, adding mute eloquence to an already moving exploration of growing up with and through loss of the one who holds your heart. Encourage patrons to read this in private, where tears can flow freely.” —BCCB

“With the same lyrical simplicity as in Keeping the Night Watch (2008), Smith writes about an African American child's grief at the sudden death of her mother… Like the poetry, Smith's simple, torn-paper collages in a folk-art style show the close embraces and vignettes without overwhelming the words.” —Booklist

“The raw emotion contained in these poems is undeniably visceral...The author supplies her own visual accompaniment, lovely torn-paper collages...” —Kirkus

“This book of poetry...accomplishes the difficult task of taking readers from the banal to the extraordinary...Teens of all ages who have experienced the loss of a loved one will find comfort in this powerful and affecting book of poetry. The raw emotions sting and make the reader flinch, but they also bring the realization that memory is ultimately the gift that brings consolation.” —VOYA

Publishers Weekly

Smith's (Keeping the Night Watch) deeply personal collection of poems, accompanied by free-form collages, forms a distinct narrative arc, with early poems striking an easy tone. "I know Batman has/ a really cool car./ And Spider-Man can swing on a web/ like Tarzan./ But I have a better superhero than that," says the girl, wrapped in her mother's lavender shawl. But after the mother's death, the poems draw on complex emotions ("I WANT my mother,/ so I took a picture of her/ and slapped the word 'WANTED,'/ in big block letters across it") and memories that lead, eventually, to rejuvenation. Ages 8-13. (Apr.)

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Children's Literature - Anita Barnes Lowen
Momma is everything to her little girl. She guards the closet door and keeps monsters at bay better than any superhero. Like the North Star, she points her daughter in the right direction and helps her "navigate through hurt feelings and bad choices." She wraps her in her arms and "loves me through and through, and can't nobody love me like my momma do." These thirty-one poems celebrate the warm and loving relationship between a mother and daughter. They mourn Momma's unexpected and far-too-early death that "created an ache so deep, I had to put up guard rails to keep me from falling in." They touch upon the anger, guilt, and confusion created by such a devastating loss. "But I don't cry because my mother is gone. I'm just mad that she didn't take me with her." At times humorous, always touching, often bittersweet, but never morbid, these poems explore death as seen through the eyes of a child—a child who, over time, begins to build a memory tree hung with those moments, real and imagined, shared with her mom. Illustrated with deceptively simple torn paper images that perfectly capture the spirit of the poems, this anthology would make an excellent addition to any collection of African American writers. Reviewer: Anita Barnes Lowen
School Library Journal

Gr 4-8

Smith offers another loosely narrative collection of free-verse poems in the same vein as The Way a Door Closes (2003) and Keeping the Night Watch (2008, both Holt). "All other superheroes are just pretenders to/the throne/because I have the ultimate superhero,/the one with eyes in the back of her head." From "In Her Shoes" to "Imitation" to "Sleepover," Smith uses details of daily life to conjure a speaker who loves her mother with the sincerity and sense of humor of any lucky child. But when the mother dies, the poems become fiercer, funnier, and more bittersweet as the speaker measures her new world. "Rule #1": "You don't learn it in school,/but it's true just the same:/You can't get mad at dead people./You have to yell at your sister/or your dad or your best friend because/the person you're really mad at/isn't here./Won't ever be here again./I get mad just thinking about it." Smith's paper collage illustrations warm the white space without overcrowding. The faceless figures show emotion in their postures, and the paper patterns and textures give them vivid presence. A photo of baby Smith with her mother and a dedication to a different "Ma" lead readers to suspect that these poems are autobiographical, but it's the author's talent with voice and image that make them real. Each one stands alone, and several would be appropriate for Mother's Day recitation, but the collection has a depth in character growth that lingers and brings readers back to savor moments again and again. Pair this volume with Nikki Grimes's What Is Goodbye? (Hyperion, 2004).-Nina Lindsay, Oakland Public Library, CA

Kirkus Reviews
Having taken on the departure-and subsequent return-of a father in The Way a Door Closes (illustrated by Shane W. Evans, 2003) and Keeping the Night Watch (illustrated by E.B. Lewis, 2008), Smith turns to the loss of a mother. "[C]an't nobody love me / like my momma do," exults the narrator, a little girl at the opening of the book. Her mother is the center of her life, her stepfather notable only when he's away and she can snuggle in bed with her mother. So when her mother dies, the now-preteen girl is a "motherless shell." The raw emotion contained in these poems is undeniably visceral. But the unnamed narrator seems to exist in a vacuum; the glancing references to friends and relatives are not enough to answer readers' natural questions about whom she lives with, how they help (or not) the grieving child-a curiosity after two such piercing looks at the effect of a loss on an entire family. The author supplies her own visual accompaniment, lovely torn-paper collages that complement but do not fill the gaps in the text. Beautiful but incomplete. (Poetry. 8-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780805082319
Publisher:
Henry Holt and Co. (BYR)
Publication date:
03/31/2009
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
80
Product dimensions:
6.20(w) x 9.10(h) x 0.60(d)
Age Range:
10 - 13 Years

Meet the Author

HOPE ANITA SMITH is the author of the award-winning books The Way a Door Closes and Keeping the Night Watch. A professional storyteller and in-school poet, Hope teaches poetry-writing workshops to all grade levels. She lives in Los Angeles, California.

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