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Getting Near to Baby
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Getting Near to Baby

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  2,537 ratings  ·  122 reviews
A Southern charmer for fans of Newbery Honor book Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage
Audrey Couloumbis's masterful debut novel brings to mind Karen Hesse, Katherine Paterson, and Betsy Byars's The Summer of the Swans—it is a story you will never forget.

Willa Jo and Little Sister are up on the roof at Aunt Patty’s house. Willa Jo went up to watch the sunrise, and Little Sis
Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 24th 2001 by Puffin Books (first published September 13th 1999)
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Getting Near to Baby by Audrey CouloumbisThe House of the Spirits by Isabel AllendeCut by Patricia McCormickThe Weight of Silence by Heather GudenkaufGhost Girl by Torey L. Hayden
Selective Mutism
1st out of 25 books — 29 voters
Charlotte's Web by E.B. WhiteElla Enchanted by Gail Carson LevineBecause of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamilloHatchet by Gary PaulsenPrincess Academy by Shannon Hale
Newbery Medal Honor Books
135th out of 312 books — 301 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Rebecca McNutt
Haunting novel, written from the perspective of innocent eyes and using child-like innuendo to describe the grief of Willa Jo's mom. Deep, unsettling and incredibly sad story, and definitely worth reading.
Linda Lipko
Come watch the sunrise on Aunt Patty and Uncle Hob's roof with thirteen year old Willa Jo and her seven-year old grief stricken, mute "Little Sister."

It is hot and steep and dangerous, but the view allows a vista different from what is happening inside the grieving souls of two lonely, heart-broken little girls who recently lost their baby sister.

Once you are up there, why leave? In fact, why not stay throughout the day as neighbors gawk and Aunt Patty vigorously plys her guilt in an attempt to
I actually read this several years ago, before I married or had children and thought it was deeply moving. Now that I have experienced the loss of a child, I would like to go back and re-read, particularly for the perspective of what it is like for an older sibling to grieve.
I must say I was a little apprehensive about starting this book given the subject matter. Audrey Couloumbis writes of life after the heart-breaking loss of a child from the point of view of an older sister, but the amazing thing is her ability to describe the experience with an honest voice without drowning the reader in sadness. Not an easy task. I'm glad she added an 'About the Author' section at the back which explains that she was around Willa Jo's age when her Aunt's child died, and another ...more
2000 Newbery Honor Book

This is a very sad book. I go into a lot of these Newbery books without knowing anything about the plot. Tears were shed.

Willa Jo and her sister (Little Sister - if she has a different name, we are never told) are currently living with their Aunt Patty. Little Sister does not talk and we find out pretty quickly that she stopped talking when Baby (their baby sister) suddenly died. Patty took the girls to live with her for awhile because their mother was so steeped in grief
Reminiscent of Dicey's Song, in terms of young people dealing with tragedy and being uprooted and somewhat betrayed by their parents, as well as in the narrative voice.
When Baby died, Willa Jo's Little Sister stopped talking. Her mom just stopped. Their Aunt eventually takes them home with her, where there are strained relationships at best. Everything falls apart when Little Sister and Willa Jo stand on the roof together, and refuse to come down.

This book was a mystery, in my eyes. We don't know how Baby died, or what happened to Willa Jo's mother until the near end. The story starts and ends with the characters on the roof and a much needed reconciliation.
Without a doubt, Getting near to baby is one of the most emotionally affecting books that I've read in quite a while. Everything about its sometimes sad, sometimes silly, continually profound story commends it for the Newbery Honor that it received. As a whole, it is near-flawless.

The writing of author Audrey Couloumbis is sweetened with a depth of poignancy that suggests from the start that this is no ordinary book. The narrative begins with young Willa Jo and Little Sister out on the roof of
It was interesting, mostly. There were some parts where it dragged, the whole thing probably could have been a little bit shorter, but on the whole it was very good.

Willa Jo and Little Sister have climbed up onto the roof of their aunt's house to watch the sunrise, and have not come down since. They've been living with their aunt since their father left and their baby sister died, leaving their mom too grief-stricken to care for them. In spite of the fact that living with their mom does offer th
Shelby Olszewski
Willa Jo and her little sister are sent to stay with their aunt after the sudden death of their baby sister. The story starts with the two sisters being at their aunts, and climbing out onto the roof one morning. The girls refuse to listen to their aunt to come down, and stay on the roof a very long time. While on the roof Willa Jo will take the reader back to earlier in the week telling different events that happened. After being on the roof all morning the girls Uncle came out on the roof with ...more
Getting Near to Baby, by Audrey Couloumbis. (Puffin Books, 1999). 211 p. Realistic Fiction.

Summary: After the death of her baby sister, Willa Jo is taken to live with her Aunt Patty, as her mother is steeped in a deep depression. Willa Jo relationship with Patty is strained, and she finds herself up on the roof one morning, watching the sunrise, and sorting through the turmoil of the past few months.

Critique: a) Couloumbis’ portrayal of Willa Jo as a struggling preteen is very authentic. The de
After the death of their baby sister, Willa Jo and Little Sister's family falls apart. The death of their baby sister had affect their family members in different ways, but what is in common is they are all suffering and all they want is their life to be normal once again. Their mother sink into the guiltness of herself not taking good care of the baby, so they were forced to live with their strict Aunt Patty and her husband. Little Sister refuses to talk ever since baby sister died and Willa Jo ...more
Nov 27, 2014 K rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: ya-lit
I just happened upon this book and it was some lucky chance. the language in this book is so moving. it tells so much by suggestion and metaphor. I would read this book over a few times just to experience the sentences a few more times. The pacing is so elegant and character development is flawless. I have already suggested this book to kids I know who gravitate to the emotional weight of literature like this. I hope to teach this book one day and want a few copies for my classroom.
Getting Near to Baby / by Audrey Couloumbis (1999) SUMMARY: Although, 13-year-old Willa Jo and her Aunt Patty seem to be constantly at odds, staying with her and Uncle Hob helps the Willa Jo and her younger sister come to terms with the death of their family's baby. COMMENT: This is a very sad story with some happy occasions thrown in. An extended family is dealing with the death of Baby in their own ways. But it takes Willa Jo climbing out on the roof closely followed by Little Sister to cause ...more
I would say that this book is about fifth to eighth grade level. It was in a free box at an educational meeting I went to, and I saw it was an award-winner, so I got it. I really like the first-person narrator, Willa Jo, and the craft of the storytelling. I think it's a great book for children who have experienced the loss of a family member or to help children this age understand grief. Definitely a great read for this age group.
Raylyn Lee
This book mead in between. By that I mean sometimes I would want to just read on and other times I wouldn't even want to look at the book. It was average in humor, but outstanding in drama. You have people dying, people dancing on roofs, and much more. I would rate this book an A-, because of the boringness. I would recommend this book to all my fellow classmates who wants a good drama book. Once again this book was in between.
I know this is a kids' book, and kudos to Couloumbis for both tackling a hard subject and making the characters awfully well-defined people for the number of pages she spent developing them. However, some of the niggly things annoyed me. For example, why does "Little Sister" suddenly get a name 3/4 of the way through the book? The best book on child death for the elementary school reader I've read all year. We'll leave it at that.
Notes from my childhood book review:

An exceptional story about love, loss and learning to move on. My favorite character was Aunt Patty, who always tried to understand Willa Jo and Little Sister although she never really could.
Rated PG.

This is not one of those scintillating books. Really, if I could, I would rate it 3.5 stars. Actually, make that 3.4. So I'm going to round it to 3 stars.

Willa Jean and Little Sister - actually, the names are my first beef with the book. On the one hand, I can understand why Little Sister and Baby go unnamed for the majority of the book, but on the whole, I like reading about people with names. It just makes things more relatable.

That aside, this was a sad, contemplative book about a
Carrie Snider
Read this book and had myself a good cry. I loved it. I would totally read it again. It's in the perspective of the older sister, which I loved. Actually I loved all the characters. Author did a great job on this one.
This is about two sibling grieving for the loss of their loved ones. Though it is a heart-throbbing read it makes you understand life after death and how family deals with those they love passing and moving on.
Very touching story, worthy of the awards it won. Children don't have the words and maturity to express and understand the grief they feel after tragic events. They express those feelings and lack of understanding in their behavior, as did Willa Jo, the main character in this book. Her little sister also manifested her own grief by not uttering a word since the family tragedy. It is a very touching book, expertly written with insight and a little bit of humor. A reminder that we (as adults) MUST ...more
Great construction of book with current setting and flashbacks. Most of the present takes place on the roof of Aunt Patty and Uncle Hob’s house. Love the characters -- even Aunt Patty

Willa Jo is hanging out on the roof pondering life. Little sister hasn’t talked since Baby Sister died and Mom is depressed. Willa Jo would rather be taking care of Mom, but Willa and Sister are stuck staying with Aunt Patty and Uncle Hob. Aunt Patty has more rules than shingles on the roof including thou shalt not
Easy read...of course, it is juve. fiction, so that is why! Prose flows so nice that the chapters just fly by. It's about a pre-teen girl and her younger sister (who is temporarily mute) and their move to live with an aunt and uncle after their younger sister's death. Their mother is having a very difficult time coping with her youngest child's death, so aunt and uncle take in the two older girls for a time. Of course, both girls just want to be with their mother and see her happy again. But alo ...more
This book made me crazy. I must have checked on my own baby five times last night and I dreamt of his sweet head all night. I'm not sure what I think of a story for children that is made of so much pain. Maybe it's less painful for children to read something like this? Maybe this is a horror book for mothers. Anyway, it was as good of a book as could be, beautifully written the way the story unfolds and ends. I turned the last page quickly with my breath quick, only to find the story was gone. I ...more
Emily Cook
A beautiful story of family, grief, and hope, told from big sister's perspective.
Mallee Stanley
Definitely deserves this award as it is a moving young adult story
The emotions and struggles of the characters felt so real. I could see the town and its inhabitants so clearly while I was reading the story. My heart yearned for them to heal. I thought it was a poignant story and I cried while reading it. I loved the setting and the voices of the characters. Each person felt unique and I couldn't help but feel for Aunt Patty as she tried to take care of these girls. I would definitely recommend this book.

*Taken from my book reviews blog:
Willa Jo and Little Sister have been taken in by their Aunt Patty after a family tragedy. One day they both climb out on the roof of the house and refuse to come in, worrying Aunt Patty and the neighborhood. This story is mainly told through Willa Jo's flashbacks about what happened before the tragedy and after they initially came to Aunt Patty's. This is a fairly easy read after you realize that the book is flashbacks. I really enjoyed the bond that Willa Jo and Little Sister have, they are the ...more
Mar 04, 2009 Joanna rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Joanna by: Lisa
Shelves: young-adult
One of the most striking things about this book was the character depth--so many young adult novels have interesting plots but flat, stereotypical characters. Willa Jo and the people in her life are believable enough that one can't help empathizing with them and falling in love with each of them and their dreams, fears, insecurities, and loves well before the end of the book. Besides also being an outstanding story, the author handles difficult subjects sensitively, making the ideas of loss and ...more
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“Knowing that time is short is important. Knowing to make the best use of it you can, that's important. Letting those around you know you love them. Because you never know when you'll have to say good-bye.” 17 likes
“Grief stays with a person for a long time.” 3 likes
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