Tag Archives: Jacqueline Woodson

Our Gracie Aunt

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Our Gracie Aunt
by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrations by Jon J Muth
Hyperion Books, 2002

Again, Jacqueline Woodson tells a heart-wrenching, yet heart-warming story, this one of children who have parents unable to care for them.  Told with love and dignity, children not familiar with this lifestyle can get a glimpse into what it’s like for abandoned children.  For children who have been abandoned, it reminds them they are not alone.

Two children refuse to open the door for Ms. Roy, ’cause their mama told them not to open the door to strangers, even though they had not seen their mama for several days.  After returning several times, Ms. Roy seemed to know things about them, and they were hungry.  They hoped foster care had toys when they let Ms. Roy in.  The children were taken to their aunt Gracie’s house and they learned to love the safe, comfortable, dependable house.  After several weeks they visited their mama, but she wasn’t able to take them home.  They decided they liked aunt Gracie’s house better.  Someday their mama could take them, but not now.  They returned to Aunt Gracie and gave her a long, deep hug.

Illustrations by Jon J Muth bring visual richness and highlight the children’s plight and emotions in warm, comforting tones.

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Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming
by Jacqueline Woodson
Nancy Paulsen Books/Penguin Books, 2014
Newbery Honor Book
Coretta Scott King Award
Siebert Informational Book Medal
National Book Award 

Written in open verse, Jacqueline Woodson provides a rich view of herself growing up in the 60’s in South Carolina and New York.  In a time where she is still referred to as a colored girl, she takes readers on a leisurely stroll, inviting a deep excitement to swell inside as they digest her phrases, images, dreams, and yearnings.  Walking in her shoes, readers can feel the joy of freedom and the confusion of racism poking at the young girl unable to respond, but knowing it’s wrong, just plain wrong.  Woodson’s writing is vivid, startling, fascinating, and from the heart.  It’s easy to see why she’s won so many writing awards.

A special treat for writers, Woodson walks readers through the inside thoughts of a young writer in the making, including the joy of her first composition notebook well before she could even write.  She shares the secret to her writing—listening—and with each story, she spills delectable foods across the table for readers to taste, savor, and digest.  This is not a book readers will want to breeze through, it is one in which readers will want to linger, contemplate, and experience.  Sure to be an award winner.

Originally published in San Francisco Book Review, December 2014

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Each Kindness

Each Kindness
by Jacqueline Woodson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis
Nancy Paulsen Books, Penguin Young Readers Group Books, 2012

Award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson writes a poignant story depicting the impact bullying has on the bully.  In Each Kindness, told from the bully’s point of view, Chloe shuns Maya, a new girl who obviously was poor and different from her.  For several months, Chloe gossips about Maya with her two best friends, but never lets Maya into her life.  Bravely, Maya offers to share her new ball and jacks and other toys she brings from home, and each time Chloe turns away.

Then one day their teacher talks about kindness and how each “kindness makes the whole world a little bit better.” With a bowl of water and a stone, the teacher demonstrates how each kindness ripples out into the world.   Maya is absent that day.  While everyone shares a kindness they have given to someone else, Chloe can’t think of a kindness to share.  She begins to understand that she could have been nice to Maya.  Chloe vows to show kindness to Maya when she returns.  Only Maya never returns and Chloe feels the pain of having chosen not to be kind.

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