While I don't think this is one of Woodson's best works, it is worth the time spent reading. This author is amazingly astute at dealing with the feeliWhile I don't think this is one of Woodson's best works, it is worth the time spent reading. This author is amazingly astute at dealing with the feelings and thoughts of young adults in difficult situations.
Thirteen, living in Brooklyn, NY and secure in the love of her grandmother and her close friend, Maizon is quite confident. She is exceedingly smart, and when she is offered a full academic scholarship at a prestigious private school in Connecticut, her grandmother strongly encourages her to spread her wings and attend.
One of only four black girls, Maizon quickly learns that bigotry and prejudice does not only reside in the affluent white community, but some of the black students display their own ignorance.
Once again, without over dramatizing the story, Woodson astutely guides the reader to an important lesson well learned....more
Shifting gears from two books recently read that lacked depth and were trite and emotionless, this stellar book by Woodson was an insightful story ofShifting gears from two books recently read that lacked depth and were trite and emotionless, this stellar book by Woodson was an insightful story of two young girls who tragically were abused by their father after the death of their mother.
When Lena, the oldest child, learns that her younger sister is becoming the target of their father, she decides it is time to run away. Traveling on the road from Ohio to Kentucky, the young children are scared, hungry and weary.
While the ending seemed trite, still, I highly recommend the books of Jacqueline Woodson. She is a three-time Newbery Honor Award winning author and only a few young adult writers can write with as much poetry and poignancy as she does....more
Yet another Young Adult book that deals with very heavy subjects such as the love of family and friends, sacrifice, death, alcoholism, abuse, the needYet another Young Adult book that deals with very heavy subjects such as the love of family and friends, sacrifice, death, alcoholism, abuse, the need to fit in and conversely the importance of finding individuality and oneself amid peer pressure.
This coming of age tale seen through the eyes of Christopher "Kit" Watson is compellingly beautiful.
In order to care for Kit's aging, ailing grandfather, his family moves to the village of Stonegate, previously a coal mining town and scene of tragic deaths of young children who worked underground in the blackness years before.
As Kit's beloved grandfather nears death, a mythological story unfolds and the lives of Kit and his two new classmates become entwined with the spirits of those who roam the mines and the memories of Kit's grandfather.
While it is only 229 pages, this is not a breezy read , though I do recommend it....more
A wonderful coming of age book regarding a twelve year old Enlgish boy whose house and family were bombed during WWII. While initially traveling aloneA wonderful coming of age book regarding a twelve year old Enlgish boy whose house and family were bombed during WWII. While initially traveling alone, he finds a dog and both bond and search for a sense of belonging and a place to call home. Before finding their Kingdom by the Sea, they face many difficult situations. This beautifully written gem is an incredible book. Once again Westall's young adult book deals with very heavy topics and leaves the reader in awe of his ability to search the soul and clearly identify human emotions....more
Difficult to read, the author spares no roughness in the portrayal of an incredibly narcissistic woman with no thought of anyone other than the way inDifficult to read, the author spares no roughness in the portrayal of an incredibly narcissistic woman with no thought of anyone other than the way in which they can be used for her purpose.
Young Ellie is keenly aware of the selfishness of her mother. As the oldest child, she tries to fill in the gaps that her mother leaves wide open.
Bullied at school, struggling at home, life is not easy for Ellie.
Perhaps the author over did it in her page after page of the sheer ugliness of Ellie's life. Yet, she is spot on regarding how difficult it is for some children.
Ellie is entering sixth grade and things are changing. The most dramatic change is the fact that her scientist grandfather miraculously found a discovEllie is entering sixth grade and things are changing. The most dramatic change is the fact that her scientist grandfather miraculously found a discovery to physically regress. He is now Ellie's age. Seeking shelter with his daughter (Ellie's mother), Ellie rides the school bus with her grandfather. And, Ellie's mother now becomes a mother figure to her father.
A Geek and proud of it, he never tries to fit in. When he is locked out of his laboratory, he seeks the aid of a classmate.
When Ellie was very young, she won a goldfish at the carnival. Believing that the Goldfish had thirteen lives because it never died, she had no idea that her parents simply replaced a living fish with the dead one.
Seeking an award for his incredible discovery, her grandfather is analogous to the fourteenth goldfish. It will live on, but there are consequences.
Examining the repercussions of things that can be done, but perhaps should not be accomplished, Ellie learns that life has a cycle and should be respected. ...more
This Newbery award winning author succeeded where many fail. Packing many issues into a small book, all of which are difficult subjects, yet renderedThis Newbery award winning author succeeded where many fail. Packing many issues into a small book, all of which are difficult subjects, yet rendered with a beautiful poignancy, marks this book a gem beyond compare!
Rose has a lot against her, including an emotionally and physically abusive father. Told by her father that she was abandoned at age two by her mother, she lives with the aching feeling that she is not wanted.
In addition, she is high on the spectrum of Aspergers, and she manifests a great deal of obsessive compulsive disorder. Having a coach at school helps, still, adjusting to a classroom setting is very difficult. With a father who does not want a "retard" for a child, her burden is great.
Obsessively excited when she finds homonyms, she blurts out the names. Rule bound, she has panic attacks when there is a lack of consistency.
Rose has a lot going for her, including an Uncle who loves her unconditionally. In addition, she has a wonderful relationship with her trusty dog Rain. Named because her father found him at the back of the bar in a rainstorm, it is one of the few gifts he ever gave Rose. Rain is with her throughout the lonely time when her father is drinking and she stays by herself, anticipating the arrival of a nasty, unpredictable adult.
She can count on Rain. She can count on her Uncle. All else is quicksand and ever shifting.
When a hurricane approaches and her father lets Rain outside, tragically after the storm, Rain is gone. Pulling together all the strength she can muster, she solicits the help of her Uncle and forms a game plan to find her beloved dog.
This is a powerful book written by an author who knows how to tell an emotional story without over dramatizing.
My favorite book thus far this year, this remains long after the last page is read.
Woodson tells of her young life in beautiful poetic form. Each chapter weaves a part of her experiences of childhood, of the closeness of family, of hWoodson tells of her young life in beautiful poetic form. Each chapter weaves a part of her experiences of childhood, of the closeness of family, of her beloved grand parents, friends and teachers. There are wonderful passages of the Civil Rights movement and what it feels like to be on the outside of society, knowing you are just as good and worthy as all.
The setting is an exclusive New York City high school. Told from the eyes of a sensitive girl who was born with a cleft palate, thus, setting her aparThe setting is an exclusive New York City high school. Told from the eyes of a sensitive girl who was born with a cleft palate, thus, setting her apart from the others of entitlement. Smart, intuitive, she watches as nastiness abounds. When she befriends a girl who will do anything to belong, she gradually distances herself as she watches her friend become promiscuous with boyfriends of those who have made fun of her.
When the body of her friend is discovered in Central Park, the school mates spin out of control in an effort to hide secrets.
There is a surprise ending, and an accurate depiction of just how ugly teenagers can be toward one another.
Sensitive and humorous, Jack tries to sort through life from two different perspectives, one of a father who is well intentioned, but not the best souSensitive and humorous, Jack tries to sort through life from two different perspectives, one of a father who is well intentioned, but not the best source of reality, and his mother who is more pragmatic and truthful.
As usual, Jack finds himself in situations that quickly spiral out of control In fourth grade he falls in love with his teacher, is bullied by the principal and finds friends as quirky as he is. ...more
Jack lives a heads or tails life when one flip of the coin can change his life for good or bad. While the coin consistently flips on the loosing side,Jack lives a heads or tails life when one flip of the coin can change his life for good or bad. While the coin consistently flips on the loosing side, he finds adventure and drama at each turn.
With a father who cannot seem to find the right job, nor can he keep it, living in six rental homes in five years keeps him hoping and navigating different rules and different schools.
A sister who is bratty and cruel, a little brother who is insistent of wanting Jack's attention, and a mother who does the best she can through it all, Jack never misses opportunity to get in trouble.
Written from Jack's perspective, the style if funny and engaging. I laughed out loud at some of these exploits.
While poverty isn't funny, the stories told made me want to walk along with Jack and see the world through his humorous eyes....more
A few years ago when reading The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, I learned more about the extreme animosity Chinese people hA few years ago when reading The Rape of Nanking: The Forgotten Holocaust of World War II, I learned more about the extreme animosity Chinese people hold for the Japenese.
This 1957 Newbery Honor book reinforced what I learned. This is a tale of the Japenese invasion of China. As they systematically descerated the land, murdering the poor peasants, bullets shot throughout the air, finding helpless targets, and in the aftermath, red fire raged through the huts, burning livestock and people within.
This is a tale of Tien Pao, a brave little boy whose family fled their village in the only remaining sampan. Rowing day and night to move further internally, they finally found a place to moor their sampan. Exhausted and hungry, Tien Pao's mother carried his baby sister on her back and she and his father sought work.
Leaving Tien Pao alone during the day with only the family pig for company. Lonely, he watched as a group of water buffalo played dangerously close to the sampan. Unaware that one of them loosened the rope that bound the sampan to the shore, Tien Pao drifted alone as the current took him right back into the mountainous territory where the Japanese were now invading.
In his journey, he miraculously rescuing an American soldier. When they were found by Chinese resistance fighters, the soldier was sheltered and then returned to his troop. Keeping Tien Pao with them, they felt it a mission to try to return him to his parents. As the fighting increased, they were not able to do so.
Once again, alone and frightened, Tien Pao was rescued. This time by American soldiers who whisked him to their barracks. As 65 men became his father, he was grateful, but still, knowing despite all odds, he vowed to find his parents.
Throughout his journey, his trusted friend the pig, now called "Beauty of the Republic", accompanied him in his sheer determination to be reunited with his biological parents.
Stargirl is magically different. Unable to understand her, during her first day at a new school, with long flowing sand color hair, she wore a long flStargirl is magically different. Unable to understand her, during her first day at a new school, with long flowing sand color hair, she wore a long flowing dress, smiled at all and, with her pet rat calmly sitting on her shoulder, she strummed the ukulele.
Those who were in the in crowd said she was phony, not real, an actress. This strange girl began to capure the attention of all and suddenly, the eleveth grade experience was different. When she jumped and twirled at the games, the teams won. And watching, Leo notes that she somehow knows when someone is in crisis, has a loss, has a birthday, has something to celebrate. Singing individually to those whom she thinks need extra love, they find a candybar or a handmade card on their desk.
Leo is in love and head over heals smitten by this very unique girl. The air he breathes is chanrged with energy. And, of all the students, she picked him as her speciall friend.
All is well until Stargirl shows attention to a team mate of a rival school, who when playing had an injury. As Stargirl races across the court to help, a caphony of boos rains throughout the gym.
This is the defining turning point when she has taken her niceness too far and now much be punished! Shunned by all, Leo finds that to remain in a relationship with her, means he also will be on the outside looking in.
He must choose, and a very wise elderly man in the community reminds him that we make our choices based on our values. And, Leon must look deep to discover his values.
When the taunting and cruelty becomes overwhemling, Leo chooses popularity and advises Stargirl to be "normal." Changing her style of dress, and putting a lid on the niceness, she tries to change, for the sake of belonging.
When the star is dimmed, and she knows that if others cannot accept her, forsake normalcy and she still must accept herself and shine through, Leo runs with the herd.
I loved this book! How true, and how sad that in life those who are kind are perceived as phoney.
This is a delight tale of Ruby who sees the world in a wonderful, magical way. Despite the continual negativity directed toward her by her grandmotherThis is a delight tale of Ruby who sees the world in a wonderful, magical way. Despite the continual negativity directed toward her by her grandmother, Ruby thrives. Without triteness or corniness, the author weaves a beautiful story of Ruby who makes wonderment for all.
When Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans, LA, and the leeves break, Ruby and her grandmother are able to climb to the attic. As the roof is blown away, they witness the incredible devastation.
In grand denial, Ruby's grandmother refused to leave. When her grandmother's boyfriend leaves before the hurricane hits, leaving them to fend for themselves, it is obvious that Ruby must be the strong one to navigate them to safety....more
This Newbery award-winning author never fails to produce a well-written, softly emotional book that leaves the reader smiling.
Fly Away is told from thThis Newbery award-winning author never fails to produce a well-written, softly emotional book that leaves the reader smiling.
Fly Away is told from the perspective of the middle child, a young girl who loves her family, and is extremely bonded with her small brother. Longing to be able to sing, Maggie's secret is that she knows while her brother is slow in learning to talk, he can communicate with her through singing. Late at night, she hears his soft voice and intuitively connects to him.
Later, it is Maggie's bond that enables her to sing to her brother when he is in peril, thus saving his life.
When a beloved Aunt needs assistance because her farm is hit hard by a mega storm, the family drives many miles to help. The beauty of MacLachlan's writing is that amid the storm, she focus' on the calm.
While short in pages, this book is long on touching the soul.