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Yolonda's Genius

3.79  ·  Rating details ·  1,904 Ratings  ·  87 Reviews

A Simon & Schuster eBook
Paperback, 224 pages
Published January 1st 1997 by Aladdin (first published 1995)
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This plot is kind of hard to describe. Yolanda and her family move to Michigan, and then Yolanda decides her brother Andrew is a genius and wants her mother to send him to a special school. Her mother doesn't understand, and Yolanda goes to great lengths to convince her of Andrew's gift.

That's what happens in the story, but it's not what this book is about. It's about Yolanda adjusting to a new city and a new school, making friends, realizing what is important to her. I LOVE that Yolanda can sti
Nov 07, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The first novel that I read <3

This is the book that gave me the initiative to love reading. It showed me a strange but significant connection with Yolonda who was actually trying to cover her true self with her bad reputation. She started off being stubborn and scornful in her new town, in Chicago. Then finds out that her brother who never talks much has a problem with reading. He loved to play the old harmonica that their father left him. He can imitate any sound he hears, like bacon sizzli
Different can be good and special can mean amazing never judge a book by its cover and never judge a person by their apperance.

Sep 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery-honor
I love the protective older sibling component of this story. I was surprised to see in the bio that Carol Fenner doesn't have a strong musical background. Fooled me! She does a nice job of describing how little Andrew understands the world through sound.

We lost our daughter Holly in March to Tay-Sachs Disease. She was almost three years old. This description of waking with sadness is true for me so many mornings since we lost our little girl:
"...she lay there and waited for it to settle or go a
Ashley M
Yoloanda The Genius is about a young girl who believes in her brothers passion in music and believes that he can make it to the big time. Yolonda tries to get reporters to listen to her brother play his harmonica in which he is SO talented at. She faces obstacles trying to get people to see her brothers talent, not to mention they have to settle down after moving from their home town. Yolanda overcomes these obstacles and finally gets people to see her little genius.
Yolondas brother Anthony is t
Mar 06, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a great little book. Yolanda, is convinced that her brother is a musical genius and will not rest until her mother realizes this. Yolanda is such a great character. She is large, smart, and confidant. One of my favorite scenes is when, after Yolanda is teased on the bus about being as large as a whale, she confronts the bully, by telling him reasons why a whale is beautiful, while she smashes his foot painfully with her own. The author also does a wonderful job describing how Yolanda's b ...more
Feb 19, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yolonda's mom is concerned with the increasing violence and drugs in their Chicago neighborhood, so she moves her family to the much smaller town of Grand River, Michigan. Yolonda's street smarts don't help her much in Grand River, and she has to learn an entirely new set of strategies for survival - especially when she realizes that her little brother, Andrew, is a musical genius and she can't get anyone else to believe her. This was so well written that I felt like I completely knew and unders ...more
Nov 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's been awhile since I gave a 4 star or higher rating to a kids book (other than Cat Valente's stuff). This, however, was just so perfect and full of splendid descriptions of food and music. I loved Yolanda's fierceness and flaws... and the ability of her musical prodigy little brother to turn things into favorite of which was when he played the sound of bacon on his harmonica.

I can see why this was a Newberry Honoree ("The award is given to the author of "the most distinguished con
Yahir Bahena
this was a good book and the characters were great. Through out the book you'll see some characters change and not change. I will say that Yolonda is a dynamic characters and some of the bullies are also dynamic.
Sep 30, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Genius can be an extremely fragile thing. What are you supposed to do to protect its flickering flame when you perceive it in someone else, or even in yourself? There's really no handbook for dealing with the nurturing of a genius mind or ability, since real geniuses are so dynamic in substance that it can be nearly impossible to predict what they're going to do next. Being a genius doesn't automatically make a person equipped to handle the enormity or scope of their own brilliance.

When Yolond
Feb 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I LOVE Yolonda! I love that she's a big girl, with a big heart and a brain. I love that she loves her little brother so much, and is so proud and protective of her little brother.

I want to read this book to my kids, however, I think I'll wait a few years because of the drug talk. I know it's important to be honest about the dangers of drugs with kids, and that was such a small part of the book, however, I don't think Ella, at 6, is ready to have those discussions.
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great story with meticulous descriptions of the characters and their actions. Rarely is the protagonist the "fat girl." Several times she questions her own behavior against the values she's been taught. After over twenty years I hope this is still popular to assign in 4th or 5th grade - lots of relevant topics to discuss and debate.
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
one of my favorite books when I was little!
There were many aspects of this book I really enjoyed. Andrew, for one. The way that Fenner described his thinking really gave an insight into the possible thoughts kids with learning disabilities have when their teachers are trying to get them to understand reading and writing. My daughter is dyslexic and we struggled for a long time, not understanding why she didn't just "get it". After we discovered her learning disability, everything was much more clear.

However, I was disturbed by Yolanda. I
Mrs. Reed
May 02, 2012 rated it really liked it
There are a few paragraphs of this book that I can almost recite verbatim because they're part of the running records (kids generally mispronounce resume, but I can't completely blame them because it doesn't have an acute accent). A few copies sat huddling together in one of my book baskets for years, never touched, probably due to the boring title and even more boring cover. I reached for it precisely because there were three together--instant book club with no hunting! And I know for sure that ...more
Nov 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Title: Yolonda's Genius
Author: Carol Fenner
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 224 pg, 1995
Format: Fiction (realistic story)
Audience: Children, ages 8 to 12
Description: Yolanda’s Genius is the story about a young girl named Yolanda who is tall, big and heavy – “a big fish” for a fifth grader. She lives with her younger brother Andrew and her mother in the city of Chicago, a city plagued by the corruption of crime and drug activity. When her mother learns of a terrible shooting
Rated PG-13 for bullying, drug references, and some violence. (Yes, I think that movie ratings actually upgrade any movie to PG-13 for even one drug reference.)

I love this book! It is definitely one of the standouts of the Newbery Honor book collection--and I wish that it had gotten the Newbery Medal. WHY was it the runner-up to The Midwife's Apprentice? I much prefer Yolonda's Genius!!!

Yolonda and her family have just moved away from Chicago to a safer town, where her mother hopes that they won
Yolanda can see things about her brother, Andrew, that others can't. She can see past the fact that he can't read and struggles in school. She knows that he is not just making noise on the harmonica that he carries; he is making music. Andrew takes everyday noises and sights and creates music to match them on his harmonica. Yolanda believes he is a prodigy, a genius. But she can't get anyone else to see it too. When the family visits her aunt in Chicago, they attend the great Blues music festiva ...more
Yolanda is a great big girl and strong for her age, bigger and stronger and smarter than anyone else in the fifth grade. She is cool and streetwise, too, and afraid of no one. It's easy for her to watch out for her little, first-grade brother, Andrew. But their mother, a legal professional and a widow, is concerned about crime and drugs in her children's Chicago school. She moves them all to a smaller and, she hopes, smaller town.

Yolanda, at first, is scornful of her new town. And Andrew, who ne
Oct 01, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery-honor, 2013
Yolanda collects new words from the dictionary at the library. She did it in Chicago and continued after Mama moved them to Grand River to be safer. The day she found a good definition for genuis, she realized who her brother really was.

"True genius rearranges old material in a way never seen before."

"She stood there for a long time, her finger on genius. She was so accustomed to the things Andrew could do that she never really noticed them. Everyone was always more concerned about what Andrew c
Mar 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Danielle Sobel-211
This is a book about a bigger girl named Yolanda and her little brother Andrew who is a genius. She finds out that Anrew is a genius by going to a library and scanning the dictionary for the word "genius" and when she finds the word the deffintion exactly describes her younger brother Andrew. It's hard to belive that andrew is a genius because he can't read and he doesn't talk a lot. Their family moves form Chicago to Michiagan after a shooting at Yolanda's school in Chicago. Y
Jun 17, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yolonda is a stocky, stubborn girl who moves to Michigan with her family from the mean streets of Chicago. There, Yolonda realizes that her little brother Andrew has an amazing gift of music. The story centers around Yolonda helping others realize Andrew's genius, while maturing and growing herself.

I really enjoyed this book; a unique story and colorful characters that added to its appeal. Yolonda isn't a perfect person, but she shows caring through Andrew, and towards the end, we can see that Y
Quick read. I wasn't crazy about this. I didn't find it all that believable. Yolonda is a spunky, determined girl who loves her little brother. That's good. What's not good is her annoying habits of lying and of overeating/eating lots of sweets. It was distracting because the author insisted on mentioning every malted milk ball, every chocolate bar, every food cart item, every extra serving of pancakes that Yolonda would eat. The skinny mother never seems that concerned, and she never seriously ...more
Karen Quinn
"Yolanda's Genius" brings the reader into the world of a young girl trying to survive in a tough Chicago neighborhood. She has a younger brother with learning disabilities. Yolanda slowly starts to realize that her brother does not just have weaknesses but also may be a genius. His musical genius is expressed through his harmonica. Her mother is hardworking and wants the best for Yolanda and her younger brother so she moves them to a suburb. It is in that suburb that Yolanda learns that good and ...more
Feb 26, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The young girl in this book is cheeky, not quite able to use her fast dominating personality to get here the friendships and happiness she so desires. She is like many of us, or like me as a little girl: making things up, lying about achievements, and getting into trouble, especially with the most personal relationships. Her love for the people around her come out especially for her little brother, who hears the world through sounds.

The title has double meaning: Yolanda is a schoolbook genius,
Jun 11, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young girls
Shelves: young-adult, fiction
I enjoyed this book, which was interesting on multiple levels. A young African American girl from Chicago moves to small town Michigan with her family following a traumatic incident. She must adjust to her new environment while at the same time trying to understand her younger brother's gift for music. It sounds like it's not a very interesting storyline but it is indeed deeper than what you see on the surface.

I recommend this book for young girls (grades 4-7). My only complaint is that I did f
This book was a delightful find. It was very well written, and-I listened to the audiobook-the reader was fabulous!! I was really pleased with the character development, the authenticism of relationship challenges. First there was the mom who loved her kids but didn't really understand them sometimes. Then there is the coming-of-age challenges of mistreating best friends because we don't know how to respond. Yolanda was a complex but delightful character. I loved most everything about her, and f ...more
Yolanda’s Genius - Carol Fenner 5 stars
This is Newberry Honor book that is probably written at a 4th or 5th grade reading level. I thoroughly enjoyed it and I would love to use it with a class of bright middle grade kids. Yolanda is a big, black, 5th grade girl who moves from Chicago to a Michigan suburb with her widowed mother and younger brother. The story is about her quest to draw adult attention to her brother’s musical gifts. It is also the story of her struggles as an exceptionally intell
Jun 20, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-ya
Had I not had to read this for class, I probably wouldn't have touched this book. Which just goes to show you really can't judge a book by it's cover.

Yolanda is a young girl from Chicago who just moved to a quiet suburban town. She is used to being tough and taking care of herself and her little brother, Andrew, who loves playing his harmonica. When Yolanda learns about what a genius is, she recognizes that her little brother is a musical genius--and all she has to do is make the rest of the wor
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Carol Elizabeth Fenner (1929–2002) was an American children's writer.

Fenner's book Gorilla Gorilla won a Christopher Award and The Skates of Uncle Richard won honors from the Coretta Scott King Award. In addition, she was a runner-up for the Newbery Medal in 1996 for Yolonda's Genius. Just prior to her death, Yolonda's Genius was optioned by a major studio for possible production of a movie for te
More about Carol Fenner...

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