Monday, February 15, 2016

BROWN GIRL DREAMING for Black History Month



Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (August 2014, Nancy Paulsen Books, 352 pages, for ages 10 and up)

Synopsis (from Indiebound): "Jacqueline Woodson, one of today's finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse. "

Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child's soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson's eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.


Why I recommend it: I first discovered Jacqueline Woodson when I read her picture book, Coming On Home Soon, in 2004, and later her MG novel, Feathers, in 2007. Both were books I loved and championed at the indie bookstore where I worked. I found Jacqueline's writing to be gorgeous and poetic. So it's not surprising that she chose to tell the story of her own childhood in verse. In breathtaking, yet spare poetry, we get to know the child Jackie, her family, and all the elements that shaped her into a writer. It's inspiring and deeply moving.

But don't just take my word for it. Look at that cover image. This book has so many awards they barely fit! And they're all well deserved. Winner of the Coretta Scott King Award, the National Book Award, and a Newbery Honor book.

Favorite lines: (from a poem called "The Garden" on page 48)

My southern grandfather missed slavery
by one generation. His grandfather
had been owned.
His father worked
the land from dawn till dusk
for the promise of cotton
and a little pay.

So this is what he believes in
your hands in the cool dirt
until the earth gives back to you
all that you've asked of it.

Jacqueline Woodson's website

What Coretta Scott King award winners have you read or do you want to read?



23 comments:

  1. Haven't read this yet but I definitely want to! Or maybe have it read to me as an audio book.

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    1. Ooo, this would be fantastic as an audio book, Andrea!

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  2. I love the cover. That alone makes me want to read this.

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    1. Isn't that a great cover, Natalie? With or without all the awards!

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  3. I've read Rita Williams-Garcia award winners, P.S. Be Eleven and this year's winner Gone Crazy in Alabama. I have Brown Girl Dreaming on my list of books to read though.

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    1. Oh yes! I loved P.S. Be Eleven and One Crazy Summer. Still need to read Gone Crazy in Alabama.

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  4. I love the cover, too, and the excerpt really pulls me in.

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  5. This has been on my to be read list for a while now. I had no idea she wrote a picture book as well.
    Thanks for the feature! :)

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    1. I hope you can find her picture books, Akoss. She's written several and they're all lovely.

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  6. I read this last year--loved the story, though the poetry never completely worked for me. Rather, not all of it did. Certain passages left me breathless!

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    1. That's interesting, Faith. I was so into the stories she told us I forgot I was reading verse.

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  7. I want to read Gone Crazy in Alabama...and the others in the series. So many books....

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    1. Always, Deb. I still need to read that third book.

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  8. I love the cover! I've never been a huge fan of history books, but this one sounds like something a friend of mine might like. Thanks for the review!

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    1. Cindy, I never used to care that much for historical books, but I'm growing much fonder of them as I grow older myself.

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  9. This one has been on my list, as well! However, I didn't realize it was written in verse. The new me finds that a plus. :-) thanks so much for the recommendation!

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    1. It's the only memoir-in-verse I've ever heard of Suzanne, but that doesn't mean more of them don't exist. I love novels in verse now, so this was a logical next step for the reading list.

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  10. I really have to get to this one. It's been on my TBR list for so long. Maybe after I get moved I will have time for more reading. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. Moving is a real upheaval, Rosi, so I would be surprised if you had any time at all to read! Best of luck with the move.

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  11. I don't think I have read anything by this author. I have been hearing great things about this book. I loved reading what you had to say about it. I must get this one soon. :)
    ~Jess

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YAY for comments! I read and appreciate each one and I always try to answer. All opinions welcome. Let's have a conversation.