"One child grows up to beSomebody that just loves to learnAnd another child grows up to beSomebody you'd just love to burn"-- Sly and the Family Stone, "Family Affair"Jacqueline Woodson, writing about being a young child in South Carolina:"ghostsIn downtown Greenville,they painted over the WHITE ONLY signs,except on the bathroom doors,they didn't use a lot of paintso you can still see the words, right therelike a ghost standing in frontstill keeping you out."Over the past week or so, I've been reading BROWN GIRL DREAMING to myself,and then re-reading many of the pieces aloud to my young grandson and tomy partner. This memoir in poems is just begging to be read aloud.When reading a new book, I dog-ear pages I want to later share or rereador talk about. There are so many great pieces to this story, and I havedog-eared BROWN GIRL DREAMING in dozens of places.BROWN GIRL DREAMING is Jacqueline Woodson's soon-to-be-published memoirabout her childhood in South Carolina and New York City. The story draws mein for so many reasons: It is written as prose poetry. It is nonfiction.It is a story very much connected to the Civil Rights movement. Havingmyself been a child of those times, the story moves me. Having been a childof New York, it moves me. Being such a fan of Ms. Woodson and of her pastwork, it moves me.Above all, it is such a lyrically-written and memorable tale.Jacqueline Woodson, writing about being a middle grader in Brooklyn:"trading placesWhen Maria's mother makes arroz con habichuelas and tostones,we trade dinners. If it's a school night,I'll run to Maria's house, a plate of my mother's baked chickenwith Kraft mac and cheese,sometimes box corn bread,sometimes canned string beans,warm in my hands, ready for the first tasteof Maria's mother's garlicky rice and beans, crushed green bananasfried and salted and warm...Maria will be waiting, her own plate covered in foil. Sometimeswe sit side by side on her stoop, our traded plates in our laps.What are you guys eating? the neighborhood kids askbut we never answer, too busy shoveling the food we loveinto our mouths.Your mother makes the best chicken, Maria says. The bestcorn bread. The best everything!Yeah, I say. I guess my grandma taught her something after all."BROWN GIRL DREAMING features family and friends and teachers, along withtimeless and universal topics of childhood to which most any child willrelate. There are pieces about grandparents, neighbors, parents, schoolmates,playing games, and popular music. These are interspersed with other piecesthat so powerfully and poignantly bring the Civil Rights Movement to focusthrough the eyes of a child on a level that young readers will readily beable to understand.One more important and recurring topic that Ms. Woodson writes about inBROWN GIRL DREAMING is her growth in becoming a storyteller (beginning as apreschooler) and a writer, this despite not being the star student that hersister was. (There was a super-smart, just-older sister in whose wakeJackie had to follow.)I really loved reading pieces here that show me the same wonder and joy in the young Jacqueline Woodson that I recall from characters of hers thatI've gotten to know over the years.I can't wait to hear Jackie reading aloud from BROWN GIRL DREAMING duringthe planned fall book tour.
336 pages Ages 10 and up 978-0-399-25251-8
Recommended by: Richie Partington, MLIS, Librarian, California USASee more of his recommendations at: Richie's Picks :http://richiespicks.pbworks.com/
Editor's Note: Recommended for eighth grade curriculum -- female author, female protagonist, diverse cultural perspective