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Getting Near to Baby

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3.79  ·  Rating details ·  3,499 ratings  ·  189 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 Si
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Paperback, 224 pages
Published April 24th 2001 by Puffin Books (first published September 13th 1999)
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Average rating 3.79  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,499 ratings  ·  189 reviews


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Rachael
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: middle-grade, grief
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.
Rebecca McNutt
May 14, 2015 rated it liked it
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.
Fatma
Feb 10, 2020 rated it really liked it
A flashback was running throughout my mind. I remembered my feeling with estrangement every time i had to be separated from my mother when i was a child. Like Willa Jo, my home wasn't the perfect example for a happy childhood sanctuary. But without being next to my mom, no fairyland i would then trade it with my (not-very-happy) home.

I felt very related to aunt Patty. The strict woman who thought that she could easily get her sister's life back to normal. Her trails were pathetic yet funny.
Noth
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Linda Lipko
Feb 03, 2011 rated it really liked it
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
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Stacy Lynn
Sep 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Getting Near to Baby" is a tragic story about two unique sisters who have lost everything due to a dead family member. The younger lost her ability to speak, and the older lost her true identity; causing her to hide behind this image of "prim and proper", as her aunt describes their hideous looking skirts and "fancy" gowns they're forced to wear. I loved the strong word choice and beautiful descriptions, because it truly painted a portrait in my mind making me imagine that I was there with the ...more
The Book Girl
Dec 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing
This review and more published on The Young Girl Who Loved Books.

I have not read a more moving book. Without a shadow of a doubt, this book is emotionally scarring. This is a profound, heartbreaking, and sometimes witty story that deserves the Newberry Honor it received. I am not sure there is much I hated about this book. I have never said this before but I believe this book might have no flaws.

Now for some backstory. I was wondering aimlessly around my favorite bookstore in my favorite litt
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Lee
Feb 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: young-adult
This is a beautifully written and poignant story that, like many of the greats in children's literature, reveals the observations, insights and perspectives that children have about the adults in their lives.
raevyn {rae}
May 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
it;s been about a year since i read this. from what i remember? it was good. but i can't provide much more information than that
Natalie
It took me an eternity to finish this one! I’m not really sure why. It wasn’t awful or anything, I just didn’t feel any pressing need to keep reading.

The story is about Willa Jo and Little Sister (it drove me nuts that they called her that) trying to heal from the death of their baby sister, who they called Baby. (🙄) Right now they are living with their aunt while their mom also tries to heal. The story switches from past to present. In the present Willa Jo and Little Sister are on the roof and
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Lesli Diaz
May 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I gave this book a 5/5 because I liked that it had lots of descriptions and also because it was interesting for me. This book was about two girls one named Little Sister and the other one named Willa Jo, they spent the summer with their aunt, Aunt Patty. When Little Sister's And Willa Jo's baby sister died Little Sister wouldn't speak she would just nod and say yes or no with her hands, as months past Willa Jo, Aunt Patty, and her mother tried to make her talk again but they couldn't.I would rec ...more
Elizabeth
Jan 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best stories about grief and loss I've ever read. It makes me happy and frustrated that it is a "children's book." Happy because kids need and deserve books this well written (this is the caliber bridge to terabithia and on my honor WISH they were) and frustrated because adults won't read it even though they should. Books in this genre can sometimes feel manipulative, easy tear-jerking without enough substance. That doesn't happen here. You should read this book. Imagine it's ...more
Magda
Apr 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
Shelves: childrens, classics
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.
Angel
Oct 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This novel was fascinating, especially towards the conclusion, as unanswered questions were revealed. "Getting Near to Baby" by Audrey Couloumbis features a unique yet strange relationship between a girl, her younger sister, and the situations they were forced into. It displays the struggles of a family as a loved one has departed, while acknowledging the changes that occur in each and every character's personalities as the story proceeds.
Jill
Jul 30, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: newbery-honor
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
Rachel
Apr 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, newbery-awards
4.5 stars. I've noticed that my favorite 2018 so far reads all seem to be about daughters. Fitting, as I've been exploring in real life how it felt to be a daughter throughout childhood and what makes for healthy parent-child relationships. I loved this book even though (because?) it made me cry. It's now one of my favorite Newbery award books, as well.
Jessica (The Psychotic Nerd)
This and other reviews can be found on The Psychotic Nerd

Actual Rating: 3.5 stars

Short and Simple Review
This is a fairly quick read that touches on how the death of a little sibling, and the grief of their mother, affects two young girls. The narration was strong and very apt for the age of the main character. The movement of the story was interesting as it has the frame story of the MC, Willa Jo, and Little Sister sitting on the roof of their aunt's and for some reason, they don't want to
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Josiah
Mar 20, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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Sierra Webber
Bk-15 Getting near to baby: this books starts off with Willa Jo living a normal life but soon things start to change her dad starts to rarely be present. And HSR baby sister gets really sick all night and dies the next morning. Willa Jo's younger sister stops talking amongst her greif and things start to change the house gets messy no one eats right and everyone in her family falls in deep despair so eventually the girls get sent to live with their aunt which Willa Jo does not like one bit her a ...more
Naomi Mcilvaine
Aug 07, 2018 rated it liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Amy Chen
Mar 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Saw this lying around and reread it.

I forgot how heartbreaking it is but at the same time not? I don't think I really understood everything when I read it at 10 but there's this part where Willa Jo is describing her mother's painting of the clouds opening to heaven and it took me back to when I envied so much to paint like that. After rereading that passage now it's just kind of painful.

Also, I forgot how beautiful and observant the descriptions of the sky are in this book.

"My heart feels like
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Kristen
From the book jacket:
"This is a funny, sometimes heartbreaking, story about sisters, about grief, and about healing. Two girls must come to terms with the death of their baby sister, their mother’s unshakable depression, and the ridiculously controlling aunt who takes them in and means well but just doesn’t understand children. Willa Jo has to try and make things right in their new home, but she and Aunt Patty keep butting heads. Until the morning the two girls climb up to the roof of her house.
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Mona Ammon
Mar 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019, newberry
TITLE: Getting Near to Baby
WHY I CHOSE THIS BOOK: It is a Newbery Honor Book
REVIEW: Given that the primary plot of this book is the death of a baby sister, you would think it would be a downer. However, I found it touching and funny. Watching the battle of wills between the preteen Willa Jo and her domineering aunt was entertaining. People mean well, but often take control out of the hands of those who should be autonomously grieving. There is nothing like death or impending death to bring out a
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Emma del Carmen Richardson
I will be honest, I was intrigued at how this book was written. While reading, it felt as if I were in a dream-like state and that everything was visible through a foggy glass. That being said, I found it a very dull plot-less book (and perhaps that was purposeful as the whole book was the discovery of life after loss and that every day life isn't so simple). My mother also read the book and felt the same. It didn't leave me wanting more nor did it make me have any after-thoughts.
Diana
May 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sad and sweet. Willa Jo is a clear-eyed character, and this book sensitively addresses grief.

I had some trouble with the timeline, though--this book seems set too late in time for the main issue to have happened the way it did (one of the characters references 'Nam as a distant event, and yet this book makes more sense set in the 1930s or so.) If I set the events in the story back forty years or so, they make much more sense. I wonder if anyone else had this issue as they read it?
Maggie
Feb 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, children-ya
This is a lovely novel about the effects on the family of the death of a sibling and how the other siblings cope. They are helped in doing so by moving in with their aunt, who is both the most interesting character and the object of scorn from the eldest sibling. Gentle humor and wise counsel guides the reader and the children in their healing.
Steve Ward
Feb 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: newbery-award
Overall this is a book that is sad from start to finish. The author did an excellent job of developing the relationship between the kids and the key adults. I’d recommend this book to those 12 and over due to the tough subject matter of a sibling death.
Wendy Fontaine
Aug 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Lovely, authentic voice. The language is gentle but haunting, sparse but also complete. A story of pain and beauty told in tender, young point of view.
Eloise
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4 1/2 stars
Kathryn
Jan 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
This was a very sad, very sweet book. It was a quick and engaging read.
Charlie Moses
Oct 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
Another excellent book about getting over loss and learning to go on with life.
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Audrey is a recently transplanted (yet again) New Yorker (by choice), now in Bunker Hill, West Virginia (also by choice), where Civil War ghosts scare the dogs at night, where a CSX train track runs behind the house and the romantic sound of a faraway train can be heard three or four times a day, where she is starting a new garden of rambling roses and assorted deer-resistant flowering shrubs and ...more

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