________________ CM . . . . Volume 21 Number 20 . . . . January 30, 2015


Room in My Heart.

Zetta Elliot. Illustrated by Pradyut Chatterjee.
n.p.: Rosetta Press (www.zettaelliott.com), 2014.
26 pp., pbk., $7.00 (U.S.).
ISBN 978-1-49741-055-8.

Grades 1-3 / Ages 6-8.

Review by Alicia Copp Mökkönen.

*** /4


Aunt Betty put her arm around my shoulders and pulled me close. “Your father won’t ever stop loving you, Nikki. Know why?”

I sniffed and shook my head. Daddy didn’t need to keep on loving me when he had new friends like Sylvia to love.

Aunt Betty smiled. “Did you know that a human heart is only as big as a fist?” She made her hand into a fist and showed it to me. I wiped the tears out of my eyes so I could see.

Aunt Betty went on. “The heart looks like it’s pretty small but hearts can be really big inside.”

“How big?” I asked.

“Well,” said Aunt Betty, “it’s hard to say. But I know there’s plenty of room in your father’s heart for all kinds of different people. And because your daddy has such a big heart, he’ll never run out of love for you or Natalie.”


internal artNikki and her younger sister Natalie always look forward to Tuesday evening when their father comes to stay while their mother is at night school. And on Fridays, both girls hurry home from school and get ready to spend the weekend with him as well. They always look forward to ordering Chinese food, planning outings like visiting the park or the museum, and sleeping in and making banana pancakes on Sunday mornings.

     However, one Friday when Nikki runs out to the car, there is a woman in the front seat with her father. Instead of ordering Chinese food, they go to the restaurant with her father’s new friend, Sylvia. Sylvia spends most of the weekend with them, and Nikki is miserable about it. The next weekend, Sylvia is there again when they visit the carnival, and Nikki feels left out: “I walked next to Daddy, hoping he would put his arm around me. He held Sylvia’s hand instead. I fell behind and walked by myself.” The following weekend Nikki decides not to visit her father.

     That weekend, her aunt, Betty, comes to visit and brings Nikki a new doll for her dollhouse. Aunt Betty is worried that there won’t be room in the dollhouse for another doll, but Nikki shows her that there is, and they talk about how there is always room in the heart to love another person. The dialogue in this scene is particularly thoughtfully and carefully composed, realistic and heartfelt without being prescriptive or didactic. The warmth and love of family is conveyed throughout each chapter, offering a comforting backdrop to Nikki’s problem. The illustrations complement the text; however, the perspective is a bit off in some of them, and Nikki is sometimes rendered with a larger head than other characters.

     Room in My Heart is an engaging story about the introduction of a new partner in the life of a divorced parent. The story is gently told and well-crafted in simple, understandable language and will appeal to all young readers and resonate with many.


Alicia Copp Mökkönen is a teacher, librarian and researcher in education in Vancouver, BC.

To comment on this title or this review, send mail to cm@umanitoba.ca.

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