Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Mentor Text Author Study: Revisiting Nikki Grimes

It’s time for another Coronavirus Creative Mentor Text Author Study post!

In August 2018, I wrote a mentor text author study featuring poet and author Nikki Grimes. Since then, Grimes has released two new picture books this year. Let's look at those books.

Bedtime for Sweet Creatures, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon, Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, January 14, 2020 is a whimsical bedtime story.

Opening Hook

Three words increased in font size and a child in jammies is everything needed for the opening hook. It shows this story is a universal truth about bedtime resistance for any adult with the experience of putting a child to bed and for the children themselves.

“No! No! No!"


From the first double page spread, Grimes tells us this is a family story. It’s time for bed but the child is ready to resist and imagines how creatures would react to bedtime, too.

Your eyes swell, as wide as owls.

“Let’s go,” I say.

“Who? Who?”

      you ask

             as if

                   you didn’t know.


The language Grimes uses, filled with metaphors and imagery, delights. The rhythm and flow make the text easy to read aloud, even act out.

Your bookshelf is noisy with stories.

“Which one?” I ask.

You point, frozen like a fawn

until you hear

“Once upon a time.”

The fun patterns the illustrator used to draw the animals are a perfect fit to the language and imagery painted by the text.


Southwest Sunrise, illustrated by Wendell MinorBloomsbury Children's Books, May 5, 2020, is a celebration of the natural world.

Opening hook

A boy sits on an airplane, baseball cap over his eyes, arms folded and unhappy. This story taps into the emotions of any child who has had the experience of moving. Too old to cry, he hides and pouts about moving from New York to New Mexico, a place of shadows.


But the boy is curious and adventurous and enjoys nature, so he finds the answers to his own question.

What’s so great about New Mexico?


In a tribute to the desert, Grimes writes lyrically about its beauty when we pay attention to what it offers. The first person narrative gives readers a real time reveal as he discovers what’s so great about New Mexico.

Wait! There’s the one
called wine-cup
spilling its burgundy beauty
for me to drink up.

And aren’t those yellow bells?
they wake up the desert
with their silent ring.

The art captures the splendor of the desert and its colorful surprises.


  1. Nikki is amazing. I can't wait to see these two.

  2. Thank you, Keila, for sharing these mentor test with awesome lines :)

  3. I'm looking forward to reading both of these books. Thanks for sharing.