"If you wrote from experience, you'd get
maybe one book, maybe three poems.
Writers write from empathy." Nikki Giovanni
(from Conversations with Nikki Giovanni, edited by
Virginia C. Fowler, c 1992, University Press of Mississippi)
Full Cicada Moon by Marilyn Hilton (September 8, 2015, Dial Books for Young Readers, for ages 8 and up)
Synopsis (from the publisher): It’s 1969, and the Apollo 11 mission is getting ready to go to the moon. But for half-black, half-Japanese Mimi, moving to a predominantly white Vermont town is enough to make her feel alien. Suddenly, Mimi’s appearance is all anyone notices. She struggles to fit in with her classmates, even as she fights for her right to stand out by entering science competitions and joining Shop Class instead of Home Ec. And even though teachers and neighbors balk at her mixed-race family and her refusals to conform, Mimi’s dreams of becoming an astronaut never fade—no matter how many times she’s told no.
This historical middle-grade novel is told in poems from Mimi’s perspective over the course of one year in her new town, and shows readers that positive change can start with just one person speaking up.
Why I recommend it: I used to shy away from novels in verse, until I read May B. by Caroline Starr Rose. Now I love them. Full Cicada Moon moved me to tears. Happy ones. And that's saying something, because I rarely cry when I read MG. Mimi is one of the strongest girl characters you'll ever meet, and her story is one you'll remember long after you've closed the book and gone on with your life. The writing is spare and simple, yet gorgeous. If last year's Newbery winner wasn't a novel in verse, I would say this has a fighting chance of winning.
Plus, the cover is downright stunning.
Favorite lines (from pg. 370):
I used to think the people of Vermont
were like the snow--
and slow to thaw.
But now I think
they're what's underneath.
Bonus: This would be excellent for starting classroom discussions about tolerance.
Marilyn Hilton's website
Follow Marilyn on Twitter
What do you think, readers? Do you freeze up at the idea of reading free verse novels? Or have you begun to thaw?