Jacqueline Woodson let’s us in on some of her memories of growing up in Ohio, South Carolina, and New York. These memories are told in free verse poemJacqueline Woodson let’s us in on some of her memories of growing up in Ohio, South Carolina, and New York. These memories are told in free verse poems which in turn showcase the amazing voice that the young Jacqueline is just learning to discover in the book. With each poem there is much that is said, and often much that isn’t said. People and memories are painted with rich words that transport the reader to this world of memories and understanding. The “How to Listen” poems were especially my favorites. Because in those poems I saw a younger version of myself trying to stop and listen in order to figure out the world (and my own memories) that made me. Woodson has created a collection of poems that not only shows us how she found her voice, but that the act of finding one’s voice is a universal dream for all. The only wish I had about this book was that it would keep going. Once the book was finished, I ached to read more. And with the power that is Jacqueline Woodson being the author, I am not surprised.
Congrats on winning the National Book Award, Newbery honor, Coretta Scott King Award, and Robert F. Sibert Award. After reading this book, I totally understand why everyone else thought it was amazing too....more
May B. is a pioneer girl. She and her family live in a sod hut on the frontier. Her parents arrange for her to go and be a companion to a new bride 15May B. is a pioneer girl. She and her family live in a sod hut on the frontier. Her parents arrange for her to go and be a companion to a new bride 15 miles away. May does not want to go. But her father promises it will only be until Christmas. Once at Mr. and Mrs. Oblinger’s home May begins to do the chores that Mrs. Oblinger should be doing. But Mrs. Oblinger is too occupied with being miserable away from her city life and her family to care about what May is doing. One morning May discovers that Mrs. Oblinger has run away back home to the city. Mr. Oblinger goes after her and leaves May alone. But neither of them come back. May is on her own in a place with little food, prowling wolves, no gun and the potential to be snowed in for months at a time.
This is a heart-wrenching story of the courage of one pioneer girl. Even though she must battle the prairie and live on her own for a few months, she must also battle the seeds of doubt planted by everyone who told her she wasn’t smart and couldn’t do anything on her own. And that truly was the greater battle for a young girl who is dyslexic in a world that didn’t understand what in the world that even meant. And since this novel is told in verse, those that struggle with reading can read May B.’s story without being too overwhelmed by the amount of text on one page. In fact, they can read a beautiful historical story that looks as long as any regular-sized chapter book should be and feel the accomplishment having done so. We’ll done, Ms. Rose. We’ll done....more
This is a book about a girl named Sara who gets a lucky break and moves out of her small-town New England home to go on scholarship to Jersey Ballet sThis is a book about a girl named Sara who gets a lucky break and moves out of her small-town New England home to go on scholarship to Jersey Ballet school. Of course life is very different near New York City compared to home. There are loads of issues that Sara deals with or sees others struggle over: being away from home, communication, becoming sexually active, being used by the person she loves, eating disorders, making and keeping friends, hard curriculum in a new private school, being a teenager with parents who can’t read her mind, etc. And it is all in poetry.
So I liked the poetry. But I didn’t love this story. I didn’t like how Sara just did what Rem wanted to make her feel better about herself. It was like she kept doing all these destructive things and couldn’t stop. Now I know that many teenagers don’t think through all their actions…but this teenager just drove me nuts. Now, I do know that my personality doesn’t mean that this isn’t an amazing book for many other people. But since I had to force myself to care about the main character and that parts of it were too crude…it just wasn’t for me. Meh....more
This would be a good book to add to a haunted, ghost, monster, Halloween display. AND it would also be an interesting addition to a school book talk aThis would be a good book to add to a haunted, ghost, monster, Halloween display. AND it would also be an interesting addition to a school book talk about things that are underground (the dead are buried you see). The book is full of epitaph poems about animals. And some of them are just funny. My nephew who was 5 had me read it to him. (He picked it out of my book stack of things I brought home to write about.) And he didn’t quite get it. But my older nephew did. And thought some of these were funny. I could also see reading these to teens who stop by the library desk and just want to chat…especially if they are ready for some SRP 2013 “Beneath the Surface” jokes. However, it is an oddity that will only hit those few readers who really like to laugh at the idea of animal epitaphs. Some wouldn’t like it at all. And therein lies the trick of how to book talk this one. But, here is an epitaph or two that made me laugh:
Mourning a Dove Go, wing, go, wing… gone.
Hasta Manana, Iguana I wrestled a tumbleweed, just for practice, then I got pinned by a saguaro cactus! ...more
We first meet Ha when she is trying to adjust to a changing life in South Vietnam after all the American soldiers left. Her father is missing, pricesWe first meet Ha when she is trying to adjust to a changing life in South Vietnam after all the American soldiers left. Her father is missing, prices for food are getting higher, and Ha is sometimes frustrated and doesn’t want to be “good”. The only trouble is that life doesn’t get any easier when her family begins their journey to escape before the Northern Vietnam flag flies over their city. Ha doesn’t enjoy her journey to the United States. And once in the state of Alabama, she is disillusioned with how life is so different from what she is used to.
Ha’s story is beautiful and heartfelt. The poetry is amazing. And I enjoyed seeing the world through her eyes and well-chosen words. Since it is a book of poetry, I think that many readers who are daunted by long chapter books will be happy with all the white space on the page. However, they will still need to pay close attention to each poem in order to understand the source of Ha’s frustrations and what she and her family do about them. For example, when Ha and her family are in the United States, she sounds out words that are around her. When reading words like “Ha Le Lu Da” need to be translated to “hallelujah”.
I liked how this story was told from Ha’s point of view. She wasn’t afraid to “write” in her poetry the confusion and anger that come from being one of the smartest girls in a school class to feeling dumb because she can’t understand the new language or the culture around her. I think many young readers will relate to “how [Ha] shoulder[s] the world!”...more
I really liked the illustrations and the poems...EXCEPT for the fact that I couldn't tell until I started reading if I should read the poem from the tI really liked the illustrations and the poems...EXCEPT for the fact that I couldn't tell until I started reading if I should read the poem from the top down or from the bottom up. I REALLY wish that there was some indication as to what way to read it so I (and kids) won't get discouraged....more
Ha! Such funny poems, and I love that just by looking at the title kids will realize that a president got stuck in the bathtub and had to get pulled oHa! Such funny poems, and I love that just by looking at the title kids will realize that a president got stuck in the bathtub and had to get pulled out. Fun facts about all our presidents!...more
Have you ever had to say "sorry" when you really didn't mean it? This is a book of poetry that celebrates the appology that isn't an appology. For exaHave you ever had to say "sorry" when you really didn't mean it? This is a book of poetry that celebrates the appology that isn't an appology. For example one poem is an appology of a witch who bakes a house of gingerbread to lure Hansel and Gretel. She is appologizing that she baked such a great house that she will be able to eat the young duo. Or another poem appoligizes for planting poison ivy in a yard of a person who didn't pay the author for mowing his lawn.
These poems will be fun to read with kids/tweens who know what it is like to want to do something that they should be sorry for...even if they aren't. In other words, this would be great for a school book talk!...more
This is book 11 for the YALSA best books challenge. I can see why it was on my list twice (once for the Morris Award and once for the Best Fiction forThis is book 11 for the YALSA best books challenge. I can see why it was on my list twice (once for the Morris Award and once for the Best Fiction for Young Adults).
This is a book of poetry (which also means quick read for those reluctant readers). Lupita is the oldest of eight kids. She was born in Mexico but her family moved to Los Estados Unidos when she was young. Although she often goes back to Mexico to visit her family there, she doesn't quite believe her parents when they tell her she has two homes. She feels like a transplanted Mexican girl in the United States. And to top it all off she hears The Secret that her parents have been hiding from her. Her mother has cancer and is very sick. It will take all that Lupita has to not only figure out who she is but to hold her family together as well. That is why she takes the time every day to write under the mesquite, a stubborn tree that is stronger than it looks.
This was good. Lupita has a powerful voice and intense struggles. Each word is well chosen and echos her emotions well. The reader will feel the shock that Lupita has when her friends are cruel at lunch. Don't her friends know what she has been through and what she is doing? Why would they be so heartless when she is always on the verge of breaking down? Lupita states the harsh reality of what life is like when she has her father go to Houston with her mother. The desperate cunning to take care of and feed herself and her siblings was subtly mentioned and yet it magnified the character of who Lupita is and why the book was so powerful. Although there are not as many words as a traditional young adult book, the text sinks into the mind and won't let go of the reader's imagination...almost like the stubbornness of a mesquite growing in a garden of roses. Beautiful....more