“It seemed uncanny that words, spread across a page just so, had the power to transport me to another time or place. But they could. I spent many hours ensconced in the local library, reading—nay, devouring—book after book after book. Books were my soul”s delight. Even so, in one sense, the stories I read betrayed me. Too few gave me back my mirror image. Fewer still spoke to, or acknowledged, the existence of the problems I faced as a black foster child from a dysfunctional and badly broken home. I couldn't articulate it then, but I sensed a need for validation, which the books I read did not supply. 'When I grow up,” I thought, “I”ll write books about children who look and feel like me.'”
Whether writing poetry or fiction, Grimes has succeeded in creating works featuring young African-American characters with whom children and young adults can identify. Drawing upon scenes from her own childhood in New York City, Grimes is noted for successfully conveying the black experience and universal themes such as friendship, tolerance, family, and community relationships, and children surviving adolescence. Despite a difficult childhood, her stories are characterized by optimism and warmth.
Nikki Grimes has written for very young children, middle readers, young adults, and adults. She is a versatile and insightful observer of human nature, writing prose that is precise, poetry that is lyrical. Her acclaimed body of work includes the poetry books Come Sunday, an ALA Notable Book, A Dime a Dozen, a Junior Library Guild selection, and the young adult novel, Jazmin's Notebook, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book. Nikki Grimes currently lives in Los Angeles, California.