A Place Inside of Me: A Poem to Heal the Heart by Zetta Elliot, Illustrated by Noa Denmon


A Place Inside of Me
Author: Zetta Elliot
Illustrator: Noa Denmon
Published: July 21, 2020 by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BYR)

Summary: In this powerful, affirming poem by award-winning author Zetta Elliott, a Black child explores his shifting emotions throughout the year.

There is a place inside of me
a space deep down inside of me
where all my feelings hide.

Summertime is filled with joy―skateboarding and playing basketballuntil his community is deeply wounded by a police shooting. As fall turns to winter and then spring, fear grows into anger, then pride and peace.

In her stunning debut, illustrator Noa Denmon articulates the depth and nuances of a child’s experiences following a police shooting―through grief and protests, healing and community―with washes of color as vibrant as his words.

Here is a groundbreaking narrative that can help all readers―children and adults alike―talk about the feelings hiding deep inside each of us.

My Review: Whew. This is a powerful text that is accessible to all ages. I could imagine reading this to a class of elementary schoolers, and I could imagine reading it aloud to a group of adults. The book is a poem that reads in layers. It offers a surface-level understanding for beginning readers and also offers a rich conception and application for more mature readers. Following a police shooting, the narrator feels a wealth of very real emotions, and each spread navigates the emotions with beautifully woven language and powerful images. I believe that Zetta Elliot is one of the greatest authors of our time, and I felt this book in my gut. It is a must read.

Teachers’ Tools for Navigation: Teachers might use this text to unpack the many levels of emotions that students experience with events. One way to use this book is to ask students to pick a recent event and write a poem about the varied emotions they felt (or feel) regarding the event.

Discussion Questions: 

  • How do the author and illustrator depict the emotions within the text?
  • What nuances do you see in the different emotions?
  • How can we use this text to enact change in our community?

Flagged Passage: 


Read This If You Love: I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes, Dear Martin by Nic Stone, The Undefeated by Kwame Alexander and Kadir Nelson, You Matter by Christian Robinson, I Walk With Vanessa by Kerascoët

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