The Watcher
The Watcher

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Annotation: In this story inspired by the 121st Psalm, fearful Jordan and class bully Tanya become unlikely allies and, ultimately, friends.
Genre: Poetry
Catalog Number: #150846
Format: Perma-Bound Edition from Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Copyright Date: 2017
Edition Date: 2017
Illustrator: Collier, Bryan,
Pages: 1 volume (unpaged)
Availability: Available
ISBN: Publisher: 0-8028-5445-1 Perma-Bound: 0-605-99702-0
ISBN 13: Publisher: 978-0-8028-5445-2 Perma-Bound: 978-0-605-99702-8
Dewey: 811
LCCN: 2017000206
Dimensions: 26 cm.
Language: English
Publishers Weekly
Drawing on Psalm 121 and a poetic technique called the Golden Shovel, Grimes creates a cycle of poems about two children, Jordan and Tanya, who become friends through their intense faith and the arrival of a new classmate. As the poems alternate between the children-s observations and pleas to God, readers learn that Tanya, who stutters and feels that other children -tease me into meanness,- bullies Jordan relentlessly. Jordan, sensing Tanya-s literal and emotional hunger, reaches out to her. The Golden Shovel form uses the words from the source poem to conclude lines in the new poem. Thus, -your coming and going- from verse eight of the psalm turns into Jordan-s thoughts on the children-s budding friendship: -Tanya-s attendance is perfect at dinnertime. -Your/ mom-s a good cook- is her excuse for coming/ over every other day. But I don-t mind, and/ Mom-s glad to see how strong this friendship is going.- The language, by turns soaring and searing, requires close attention, but its beauty is brought to earth in the best way by Collier-s resonant photo-collages of schoolchildren. Ages 6-10. Illustrator-s agent: Marcia Wernick, Wernick & Pratt. (Nov.)

School Library Journal
Gr 35Drawing from Psalm 121, Grimes weaves a dual narrative around two young classmates using the Golden Shovel format. (Each poem uses the words of one line of the original psalm as its ending words.) Jordan makes good choices despite a meek and downtrodden nature. Tanya acts like a bully, her hostility rooted in self-consciousness about stuttering and academic struggles. Both are encouraged by family members to turn to God, who is always watching over them. The message is heavy at times: "where/stutterers aren't treated like spit." But Grimes's skillful use of enjambment keeps the verse fresh. The text is also a valuable study in perspective, offering insight into the character's motivations and fears. Both gravitate to an aptly named new student, "Israel." Soon after, the speakers are brought together by Jordan's commitment to choose kindness and Tanya's willingness to change. Grimes ends with a brief explanation and encourages young readers to try their hands at this poetry form. Collier's mixed-media illustrations accompany the text, incorporating paintings and also photographs of real New York City students. VERDICT A strong portrayal of pious characteristics to foster empathy in kids; a fine addition to religious-themed poetry collections.Maria O'Toole, Carroll Manor Elementary School, Adamstown, MD
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
When the chaos of life threatens to overtake your soul, a simple psalm can soothe you. In this picture book, Wilder Award-winning author Grimes delivers a compact yet powerful message of hope and encouragement based on Psalm 121. Short poems energized with kindness, despair, hope, regret, and acceptance are delivered using a style she describes in the back of the book as "the golden shovel," a form she also used in One Last Word (2017). Grimes defines this form as using a portion of an existing poem and arranging it in such a way that the end words of each line form a short sentence from the original poem. Using the words from the psalm, woven with carefully crafted words of her own, she tells the story of Jordan and Tanya, two elementary school children struggling with fitting in, trying to survive. Tanya, a black girl, stutters and compensates with meanness; while Jordan, a shy and quiet white boy, just wants to make a friend. Tanya feels the constant brunt of others' lack of compassion and directs that anger toward Jordan. Collier's exquisite artwork combines soft, delicate brush strokes with lively photo collages. The effect is both hyper-realistic and gauzily surreal, a perfect complement to Grimes' poems. A sumptuous work filled with a deliciously wrapped center—perfect for classrooms, school, public, or church libraries, or home: wherever hearts go for mending. (Picture book/poetry. 5-8)
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Grimes mines Psalm 121 for inspiration in telling the stories of children with troubles who find strength and sustenance from God. The psalm ("I lift my eyes to the hills ere does my help come from?") begins the book. In short bursts of poetry, readers meet Jordan, who fears his tormentor, and Tanya, the bully, whose stuttering isolates her. Grimes uses the Golden Shovel poetry form, which takes consecutive words from an existing poem (here, the psalm) and places them at the end of each line of original poetry that precedes it. So, while Jordan questions whether or not he should keep the wallet he finds on the ground, the vertical message is "he will not let your foot slip." This constraint could impinge upon story or feelings, but in Grimes' expert hands, that almost never happens. (Only one stanza, when Jordan's told he must have his tonsils removed, feels forced.) Readers will be moved by Tanya's fears and Jordan's ability to reach out. Collier uses his look-and-look-again collage work, here in earth tones, to capture and extend the emotions bubbling near the surface. Childhood concerns, some common, some not, are elevated by the infusion of God into this wholly (and holy) original mix.
Reviewing Agencies: - Find Other Reviewed Titles
Starred Review ALA Booklist (Wed Nov 01 00:00:00 CDT 2017)
Starred Review for Kirkus Reviews
Publishers Weekly
School Library Journal (Sun Oct 01 00:00:00 CDT 2017)
Wilson's Children's Catalog
Word Count: 1,360
Reading Level: 4.3
Interest Level: 1-4
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.3 / points: 0.5 / quiz: 190446 / grade: Lower Grades
Lexile: 700L

Jordan lives in fear of Tanya, the class bully. But Tanya has worries of her own, no matter how much she tries to ignore them. It seems impossible that Jordan and Tanya could be anything other than enemies, but the Lord is watching over them, guiding each of them along a path that might just help help them to understand one another.Nikki Grimes takes the words of a comforting psalm and masterfully transforms them into a tale of compassion, friendship and faith. Coupled with artwork from Bryan Collier, this heartfelt story is one that readers will treasure.

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