Brown Girl Dreaming

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"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

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