By: Jacqueline Woodson
Published: August 28, 2014
Publisher: Nancy Paulson Books
When you see a book full of these stickers on the cover, you know it must be something great. I snagged it during our school's Scholastic Book Sale this fall and figured I could read it and so could our daughter. But, I set it aside, as I do with many of the books I purchase because review books tend to come first. But, then I saw a couple recent reviews of this book and decided I needed to read it now.
Jacqueline Woodson writes of her life growing up in the 1960's and 1970's, first in the South, and later in New York City. She shares her deep love for her grandparents, who raised her for a bit of time. She writes of the pain she feels being away from her mom and not really knowing her dad since he left when she was young. She tells of stories with her siblings during the carefree hot summers of South Carolina. But what is unique about this book is the way Woodson tells her stories....through free verse poetry.
I am the first to admit that I typically do not like poetry. Often I don't understand it, I can't write it, and it just doesn't connect with me. So, I was hesitant to read this book, but I figured it would be a quick read and I would know pretty quickly if I was going to like it or not.
I was blown away. This book is amazing and I've already personally told several people to read it.
Woodson has a way of telling a story with very few words and yet with so much emotion. She could have easily described her days as a child in a story with dialogue, but it definitely wouldn't have had the impact that her poetry would have on a reader. Her style of writing reminded me of that challenge to write a story in just six words, "For Sale: Baby shoes. Never worn." The words she chooses in the telling of her story leave a dynamic impact on the reader. When Woodson is describing a shopping trip with her grandmother, she doesn't need to explain the racism they experienced in each store, but instead, this tells it all:
"In the stores downtown
we're always followed around
just because we're brown."
When sharing about the dreaded ribbons she and her sister must wear in their hair you have to giggle to yourself:
"When we hang them on the line to dry, we hope
they'll blow away in the night breeze
but they don't. Come morning, they're right
where we left them
gently moving in the cool air, eager to anchor us
I could go on and on with the numerous pages I marked with beautiful prose. But, I just want you to experience it for yourself. This book shines on a light on the life of a child growing up happily, yet oblivious to the turmoil of the south because all that mattered to her was that she was loved. And loved she was.
"Somewhere in my brain
each laugh, tear and lullaby
becomes a memory."
|Jacqueline Woodson - source|
Jacqueline Woodson's awards include 3 Newbery Honors, a Coretta Scott King Award and 3 Coretta Scott King Honors, 2 National Book Awards, a Margaret A. Edwards Award and an ALAN Award -- both for Lifetime Achievement in YA Literature. She is the author of more than 2 dozen books for children and young adults and lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York. For more, check out her website, HERE.
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