A Pocketful of Poems

writ­ten by Nik­ki Grimes
illus­trat­ed by Java­ka Step­toe
Clar­i­on Books, 2001

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A Pocketful of Poems

From the Book


Ouch! This word pecks at my pocket

like some wild thing, anx­ious to go free


Its speck­led sis­ter paces along

The win­dowsill, star­ing in at me.

Pigeons mas­quer­ade

as wildlife. They can’t fool me.

We’re all city folk.

from A Pock­et­ful of Poems
© 2001 by Nik­ki Grimes

Awards and Recognition

  • 100 Titles for Read­ing And Sharing
  • Bank Street Col­lege Best Book of the Year
  • CCBC Choic­es 2002
  • Chica­go Par­ent Best Book
  • Par­en­t’s Guide to Chil­dren’s Media Award 2001



  There’s so much vibrant ener­gy and fresh­ness in this col­lab­o­ra­tion, the book will dance into the hearts of chil­dren right away. Tiana … opens her hands full of let­ters and her pock­et full of words. Each page has two fac­ing poems, both in Tiana’s voice: one is short and brac­ing, the oth­er is a haiku …  They are on the same sub­ject and often play call-and response to each oth­er … the haiku usu­al­ly floats or sways or sashays amidst the illus­tra­tions. And what illus­tra­tions they are! Step­toe is a fab­u­lous­ly inven­tive col­lag­ist … The let­ters that come out of Tiana’s pock­et and adorn the end­pa­pers look like baked molasses can­dy, lus­cious and edi­ble.” (Book­list, starred review)

  Grimes (Jazmin’s Note­book) boils poet­ry down to its essence in this pic­ture book homage to words—a must-read for aspir­ing poets and writ­ers … Tiana’s bub­bling per­son­al­i­ty shines forth from each verse, and Step­toe … in an extra­or­di­nary feat, sculpts each of his char­ac­ter por­traits from con­struc­tion paper in a sin­gle, unin­ter­rupt­ed lin­ear out­line. … Read­ers can only hope that this dynam­ic duo has many more pock­ets full of poems.” (Pub­lish­ers Week­ly, starred review)

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