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Lee Bennett Hopkins is a poet and anthologist and has been honored with the Christopher Award, the University of Southern Mississippi's Medallion for "lasting contributions to children's literature," and the NCTE Award for Excellence.
Gr 5 Up-This autobiographical cycle of poems is a rare gift, a careful exploration of one life that illumines the lives of all who read it. Been to Yesterdays chronicles Hopkins's 13th year, the year he moved from Pennsylvania to New Jersey, the year his parents divorced, the year his grandmother died, the year he knew he'd be a writer. Each poem is a model of emotional economy. The author writes of seeing packing boxes and knowing the family must leave a too-expensive apartment (``Stowed in cardboard/corners/memories rest/quietly/in paper chests''); he reflects on his grandmother's death and his growing up (``no more/sitting on/Grandma's knee/no more/smiles/or kisses/or joy/no more/darling/no more boy.'') The spare elegance of the poems is matched by a spare, clean book design-the words are surrounded by white space and a few pen-and-ink sketches. Like Cynthia Rylant's Waiting to Waltz (Bradbury, 1984), this book offers rich biography in a clear, poetic form. Readers will rejoice that Hopkins decided ``To/make/this world/a whole lot/brighter/when/I grow up/I'll/be/a/writer.''-Kathleen Whalin, Greenwich Country Day School, CT
* "This autobiographical cycle of poems is a rare gift, a careful exploration of one life that illumines the lives of all who read it." --School Library Journal, starred review