Sunday, August 24, 2014

brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson.

Jacqueline Woodson tells the story of her early life in beautiful verse.  Woodson had the unique experience of growing up in both the South and the North in the 60s and 70s.  She never felt completely at home in either place, always missing somewhere.  Although very young, she was aware of the dramatic cultural shifts happening around her, even if she didn't really understand them.

Another beautiful book from Jacqueline Woodson.  Woodson started off her life in Ohio.  Her father did not like where her mother came from, South Carolina, where Black people had to sit in the back of the bus and say "yes sir" and "no sir" to white people.  He never wanted any of his children to have that experience.  But when Woodson's mother and father separated, they returned to her mother's home.

South Carolina was very different from Ohio.  Woodson and her siblings had lots of new rules to learn.  Despite her mother telling them they "were as good as anyone else" that was not how it seemed.  Despite the things she observes, Woodson and her siblings love living with their grandparents.  Their mother is often away in New York though, and after a time, they all move to New York.

Another move, another completely different cultural experience.  It's the 70s now, and with it comes the Black Pride movement and the Black Panthers.  Woodson is still to young to really understand what's going on.  But she can see that there are places where only Black people live, and places where only white people live.

Over the course of the story, Woodson also expresses her growing love of writing and telling stories.
 Sometimes she spins fantastical stories about things she's done.  They're things she wishes she had done, or places she wishes she had gone too.  Doesn't that make them kind of true?  Her stories get her into trouble sometimes, but she never stops.

It's Woodson's life, but it reads like historical fiction.  Simple and engaging, yet so much going on behind it.

I wonder about shelving this.  It should go in nonfiction, right?  It's the story of her life, told in verse.  But a kid would be much more likely to stumble on this in the fiction section, with the rest of her books.  But it wouldn't be right to put it in fiction.  Thoughts?

brown girl dreaming comes out August 28, 2014.

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