Tag Archives: Caldecott Honor/Medal

Themed Third Throwback Thursday: 2000-2009

Themed Third Throwback Thursday this month will clearly require some throwing back as it is not being posted anywhere near the third Thursday (despite the fact that I got it to post as being published over a week ago!)…I hope you can forgive me for that! đŸ˜‰

Again, we’re definitely in a time frame where “classic” or “lasting” is a relative term, so I enlisted the help of my local children’s librarian to find out what books from this decade already have a following among young readers. This list reflects her suggestions as well as my own experience with and guesses based on what kind of children’s books have been, in the past, popular in the long term.

Newbery Medalists of the decade are:

2000–Bud, Not Buddy, by Christopher Paul Curtis
2001–A Year Down Yonder, by Richard Peck
2002–A Single Shard, by Linda Sue Park
2003–Crispin: The Cross of Lead, by Avi
2004–The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup, and a Spool of Thread, by Kate DiCamillo
2005–Kira-Kira, by Cynthia Kadohata
2006–Criss Cross, by Lynne Rae Perkins
2007–The Higher Power of Lucky, by Susan Patron
2008–Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village, by Laura Amy Schlitz
2009–The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman

The Caldecott Medalists are:

2000–Joseph Had a Little Overcoat, by Simms Taback
2001–So You Want to Be President?, by Judith St. George, illustrated by David Small
2002–The Three Pigs, by David Wiesner
2003–My Friend Rabbit, by Eric Rohmann
2004–The Man Who Walked Between the Towers, by Mordecai Gerstein
2005–Kitten’s First Full Moon, by Kevin Henkes
2006–The Hello, Goodbye Window, by Norton Juster, illustrated by Chris Raschka
2007–Flotsam, by David Wiesner
2008–The Invention of Hugo Cabret, by Brian Selznick
2009–The House in the Night, by Susan Marie Swanson, illustrated by Beth Krommes

Kate DiCamilloBecause of Winn-DixieHer first book, Because of Winn-Dixie, was published in 2000, was named a Newbery Honor in 2001, and was made into a movie in 2005. The Tale of Despereaux, her 2004 Newbery Medalist, became an animated film in 2008. She won the Newbery a second time in 2015 with Flora & Ulysses (featured in my post about superhero books). However, middle grade fiction is not her only strength! My kids both enjoy her funny Mercy Watson series (GirlChild as an easy independent read, BoyChild as a Tumblebook read-along!), an early chapter book, and she’s also tried her hand at a couple picture books. She often tackles tough topics that kids can understand (divorce, loneliness, homelessness, etc.) and empowers her characters to overcome their circumstances and be the heroes of their own stories. The consistent quality of her works suggest that longevity is almost inevitable!

Neil GaimanThe first Gaiman Coralinebook I encountered was actually Stardust, through the movie (recommended by my sister, whom I shall call “Marian the Librarian” (if I haven’t already done so) since she is a youth services librarian in a public library), published in 1999 (and definitely a YA or above book–not for readers younger than high school). He has an extensive bibliography, however, that starts in the mid-80s and continues to now and is primarily in the speculative fiction genre. Many of his efforts are in comics and adult literature, often short stories or poetry, but shortly after Stardust, he started publishing more child-friendly books (although most still with an edge). Some of my favorites for middle elementary to middle school are Coraline (although I can’t look at the illustrations for long!) and The Graveyard Book (the Newbery Medalist which I experienced as an audiobook read to perfection by the author). And of his picture books, I enjoyed The Wolves in the Walls and loved Chu’s Day (as did my children). He seems to be the kind of author that will continue to be read far into the future!

Lemony SnicketSeries of Unfortunate EventsI started purchasing The Series of Unfortunate Events for my classroom shortly after the first book was published in 1999. By the time I was done teaching 5th grade in 2007, the series had been completed. I remember picking up most of them from the Scholastic book order, but the last few were purchased at a local bookstore when I couldn’t wait for them to come out in paperback! Wikipedia suggests “mock-gothic” as a genre, and a setting is hard to nail down. (It feels almost steampunk to me with its Victorian vibe and a variety of anachronistic technologies, but it is less focused on the technology than on the woe the main characters face near-constantly.) Another term Wikipedia uses is “absurdist”–the characters seem like Gothic caricatures, villains and heroes alike, and the plot events are often sadly absurd. Snicket’s understated melodrama and dire and dreary commentary are hallmarks of his work. Some children read the books and get depressed; others (like me) find the understated absurdity to be absolutely hilarious. Besides the author’s other prolific writings, the series has been translated into many languages and is in the process of being made into a second movie.

Mo WillemsMo Willems‘ first books for childrenDon't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! came about after a stint as a writer and animator on Sesame Street; he decided to become a stay-at-home dad to his daughter, Trixie (who became the protagonist in his Knuffle Bunny series). Between his Pigeon books, Knuffle Bunny, and Elephant and Piggie books, it’s hard to believe that there are any youthful readers who haven’t come across and enjoyed something he has written! (My children strongly adore all of his works and are mesmerized by the Scholastic animated versions they got from Grandma! I wrote about how much we adore him in a Themed Third Thursday post a few years ago.) He received Caldecott Honors for Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus!, Knuffle Bunny: A Cautionary Tale, and Knuffle Bunny, Too: A Case of Mistaken Identity.

I feel like I’m overlooking someone (or a few someones!) really talented and prolific with a strong body of work in this decade, and I’d love it if you’d help me out by telling me in the comments about the authors/series from this decade that have the potential to make a lasting impression on children’s literature!




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Themed Third Throwback Thursday: 1940-1949

[1940 to 1949 book list]

The 1940s were clearly a tumultuous time in the world. Here are some highlights and trivia from about.com:

1940–Bugs Bunny character debuts
1941–First Captain America comic published, M&Ms created
1942–Anne Frank’s family goes into hiding
1945–Germans surrender, microwave oven invented
1946–UNICEF founded
1947–Dead Sea Scrolls found, Polaroid cameras invented
1949–Nineteen Eighty-Four published

Newbery winners for the decade are a better mix of male and female authors than before:

1940–Daniel Boone, by James Daugherty
1941–Call It Courage, by Armstrong Sperry
1942–The Matchlock Gun, by Walter Edmonds
1943–Adam of the Road, by Elizabeth Janet Gray
1944–Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes
1945–Rabbit Hill, by Robert Lawson
1946–Strawberry Girl, by Lois Lenski
1947–Miss Hickory, by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
1948–The Twenty-One Balloons, by William Pene du Bois
1949–King of the World, by Marguerite Henry

Caldecott Medals awarded during the decade include the following:

1940–Abraham Lincoln, by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire (with Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans, a perhaps better-known runner-up)
1941–They Were Strong and Good, by Robert Lawson
1942–Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey
1943–The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton
1944–Many Moons, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin, by James Thurber
1945–Prayer for a Child, illustrated by Elizabeth Orton Jones, by Rachel Field
1946–The Rooster Crows, by Maud & Miska Petersham
1947–The Little Island, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard, by Golden MacDonald (Margaret Wise Brown)
1948–White Snow, Bright Snow, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin, by Alvin Tresselt
1949–The Big Snow, by Berta & Elmer Hader

Betsy-TacyBetsy-Tacy, by Maud Hart Lovelace (1940): I had never read this book when I first heard of it in library school, but several classmates listed it as one of their all-time favorite childhood books. Then a good friend mentioned it as something that reminded her of our girls, so I grabbed a copy of it for GirlChild…and she has since read it twice! This first book in the (apparently very long) series starts when the two girls are not yet five years old and are just meeting for the first time. (Within the first chapter, a bit of antiquated terminology will throw an older reader for a loop, but my eight-year-old didn’t even register that her hat had a very peculiar name. That said, when you find it, DON’T GOOGLE IT.) The books takes place in Minnesota during the time period when little girls still wore winter underwear and petticoats under their dresses and people moved into houses with the aid of a dray (a low cart without sides used to haul heavy things) instead of a moving van. Betsy is friendly and eager and inventive, and Tacy (short for Anna Anastacia) is reserved but just as imaginative. (Neither one seems to be aware that a milk cow or a hen is always a she.) Betsy has an older sister, and Tacy is one of eleven children. There are small issues (first day of school, etc.) that the girls handle together, but the death of Tacy’s baby sister is a serious one that is dealt with gently. Mostly the author just describes the stories the girls tell and the different ways they play together (like going calling dressed in their mother’s old clothes and leaving cards where they’ve visited–I seriously want to bring back leaving calling cards!). The very last chapter introduces a new character, Tib (short for Thelma), a girl who is introduced to Betsy and Tacy because of one of the calling cards they leave at a home they pass on their way to school. (The shout-out to Milwaukee was a fun part, too, since that’s where we are, and GirlChild’s friend moved here from Minnesota.) I’d recommend this first book as a read-aloud for a young listener (kindergarten-ish) or independent reading for an older reader like GirlChild, but you might need to be prepared to explain some of the less-than-modern elements of the story to help them fully understand.

Make Way for Ducklings, Make Way for Ducklingsby Robert McCloskey (1941): This Caldecott-winning picture book tells the story of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard’s search for a place to raise their ducklings. Mrs. Mallard dismisses each idea as being too dangerous (foxes or turtles might be there!) until they arrive in Boston and find a little island in a pond in the Public Garden, and they almost decide to stay there until they discover the number of children on wheeled toys rushing by on the banks. They fly all over town looking for another place to nest, and they finally settle on an island in the Charles River since it seems peaceful but is close enough to the Public Garden to benefit from the peanuts people give them! When Mr. Mallard goes on to explore further down the river shortly after the ducklings hatch, Mrs. Mallard teaches the children all kinds of ducky things before they set off to meet Mr. Mallard at the Public Garden. Michael the policeman stops traffic for the little train of ducks, then he calls downtown to get support to stop traffic along the rest of their route as well. (Here’s where the book gets its name!) When they arrive at the Public Garden again, the ducklings love the island, so they decide to remain in the garden pond, eating peanuts and sleeping on the island.

The Hundred DressesThe Hundred Dresses, by Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin (1944): This Newbery Honor book is familiar to many of my era, and GirlChild really enjoyed it, too. (I reminded her of another book we’ve read with a similar theme, Jacqueline Woodson‘s Each Kindness.) In the book, a Polish immigrant girl is constantly taunted by a pretty, popular, and well-to-do girl named Peggy because she has dared to claim that she–Wanda Petronski, who lives in Boggins Heights and wears the same faded dress to school every day–has one hundred dresses lined up in her closet. Maggie, Peggy’s friend, is unsettled by the mockery because she worries that she may become a target, too, since she is also poor, but she says nothing. The day when the teacher announces that Wanda has won the drawing contest for her one hundred beautiful dress designs, she also receives and reads a note from Wanda’s father explaining her recent and now permanent absence in the light of the mockery over her name and speech. The girls, especially Maggie and Peggy, are riddled with guilt and write a letter to try to patch things up. Wanda replies back that they may all keep the drawings she made, and Peggy and Maggie realize the ones she designates for them were actually drawn with their faces before all this happened. Maggie realizes in the end that she will never really be able to make things right except to never allow that kind of cruel behavior to happen to another child again; she vows to always speak up.

The Carrot Seed,The Carrot Seed story by Ruth Krauss, pictures by Crockett Johnson (1945): This is by far the simplest book of the bunch. While I’m not entirely sure that this particular title is well-known, the illustrator certainly is! (His Harold and the Purple Crayon will show up in next month’s post.) I loved the story, too, actually, and BoyChild listened carefully, remarking on how “mean” everyone was to tell the little boy that his seed wouldn’t grow. (We had a bit of a connection to make, actually, since we just planted carrot seeds in our garden and are waiting for them to grow!) Each page has a single sentence and illustration as the little boy waits, pulls weeds, and waters the seed. Finally, “a carrot came up”–a vast understatement since the carrot top that springs forth is taller than the boy–“just as the little boy had known it would”–and he carts off a gigantic carrot. BoyChild was somewhat shocked and very pleased by the sudden and very large carrot crop, and I think this would be an excellent read aloud to share with a classroom of young children who might be studying plants!

My Father's DragonMy Father’s Dragon, by Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett (1948): While I acquired this book somehow in an inherited classroom library, I was not aware of its background at all. I happened to see it on a list of first read-alouds for kindergarten children when I was looking for a book for a friend, and then I realized that it was also a Newbery Honor book, so I decided to give it a try! After reading through its simple silliness, I do think I’ll read it to BoyChild to see what he thinks. It tells the story of a boy (referred to as “my father” in the book, thus the title) who is kind to an alley cat who then tells him about another creature who is in need of rescue: a baby dragon on Wild Island. The boy sets off to help the dragon. He tricks or distracts several different animals on the island so that he can access the dragon and set him free, and they fly away together. There are several opportunities for a little fun prediction and a little light suspense, so I agree with the age-level and read aloud suggestion for this one, but I’m pretty sure GirlChild would enjoy reading it as well!

Blueberries for Sal, Blueberries for Salby Robert McCloskey (1948): This book is the Caldecott Honor picture book that tells the story of a little girl who goes blueberry picking (eating?) with her mother and not the horrifying story about the child who is stung by bees while picking berries and dies of an allergic reaction like I first thought (and therefore avoided the book). It follows a human mother and her child, Little Sal, as they go berry picking, but it also follows a bear mother and her child, Little Bear, as they forage for berries, too. BoyChild and I each kind of expected a more frightened response when each child started following the wrong mother, but worry about the missing child seems to be the only fear shown; the human mother and child even continue picking berries on their way home after they’re reunited!

A few other iconic books that were published in this decade but that were too long for me to reread and review this time are The Black Stallion (1941), My Friend Flicka (1941), and Misty of Chicoteague (1947). Books about horses for more advanced juvenile readers were apparently pretty popular in the ’40s! Misty of Chincoteague (and all the Marguerite Henry books, actually) was my favorite, and my mom read all the Black Stallion books aloud to us at some point, too. What Do We Do All Day’s comparable review list doesn’t have any overlap, but it does mention a couple books that I chose to review since I’ve chosen to focus on lasting favorites while that blog tries to share hidden gems!

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Fun Fourth Friday: Jacqueline Woodson

The first Jacqueline Woodson book I read was Locomotion. The previous teacher had moved to younger pastures and had left this book behind as part of her classroom library, and it was one of the few books there that I hadn’t yet read, so I picked it up during testing week so I’d have something to do while I walked around the room supervising my students. (This, at least, is the story I remember about finding it. These fifth graders are now in college, so my memory might be faulty!) I didn’t finish it during the day, but it was so compelling that I had to keep reading it after school until I was done. My heart ached for Lonnie (the main character), and I could see parts of him reflected in so many of my students that year. I would see the author’s name on different library lists and book recommendations, but I didn’t personally happen across another of her books until Each Kindness showed up at the book fair when GirlChild was a kindergartener. Another heartbreaker. Then I found Peace, Locomotion as an audiobook for my Y treadmill distraction. Every book made me fight back tears, her characters so real and so fragile, the endings often leaving a feeling of dissatisfaction, the knowledge that things aren’t perfect or completed, and there is something left for the reader to do. Last month, I was looking up a Newbery Award year, and I noticed her name as an honor recipient. And then again. And again.

And I decided I needed to do a blog post on some of her works for young readers. [Jacqueline Woodson book list]

Pecan Pie BabyPecan Pie Baby, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (2010, early to middle elementary): Gia is sick and tired of all the talk about the “ding-dang baby”! It’s been just her and her mom for so long, and now there’s a new baby due to arrive “by the time the first snow’s on the ground,” and it’s all anyone can talk about–her aunts, her uncles, even her friends! Her mom tells her that the baby loves pecan pie, just like she and Gia do, but Gia just thinks the baby is being a copycat. At Thanksgiving dinner, she’s had about enough, and her angry outburst shocks everyone and gets her sent to her room. When her mother joins her later, she shares that she, too, will miss the fun they had, just the two of them, and that Gia will have to tell the baby all about “the good old days.” When Mama says that the weatherman is forecasting snow, the two of them go to have some dessert before “that ding-dang pecan pie baby” comes, and they laugh because Gia knows her mother knows, like she does, “how much the three of us loved ourselves some pecan pie!”

Each Kindness, illustrated by E. B. Lewis Each Kindness(2012, early to middle elementary): This picture book evokes similar feelings to those brought up by The Hundred Dresses. Maya is the new girl in school, and Chloe and the other children look disdainfully at her shabby clothing and refuse to return her friendly smiles and other overtures. She continues to make her attempts at friendliness and accept the unwarranted rebuffs with grace until one day in the spring when the children laugh outright at her pretty but secondhand dress, and she goes off to jump rope alone without asking anyone to join her. The next day, she is absent, and Ms. Albert teaches a lesson on the ripple effect of kindness, saying, “Each kindness…makes the whole world a little better.” Guilt over her behavior toward Maya grips her, and Chloe is desperate for an opportunity to return Maya’s smiles. However, Maya never returns; her family has had to move. In the end, Chloe tosses stones into the river and thinks about how each kindness “done and undone” makes its mark.

Visiting DayVisiting Day, illustrated by James E. Ransome (2002, early to middle elementary): It took me a while to figure out that Visiting Day wasn’t a custody arrangement visitation or maybe a hospital visit that the little girl (never named) is anticipating with such excitement, but I’m thinking a child who has experienced an incarcerated parent might pick up on it right away. The little girl and her grandma are up early preparing–Grandma frying chicken and humming, braiding the little girl’s hair, and getting items from a neighbor who can’t afford the trip to bring them to her son. They board the bus along with other visiting families, and they all share a picnic on the ride. The little girl falls asleep and doesn’t wake up until they arrive at the “big old building where…Daddy is doing a little time.” One page spread is dedicated to the time she spends with her father, and the very next shows their separation again, Grandma reminding her that “it’s not forever going to be like this.” Then the girl and her grandmother return home again, already missing and planning for their next visit, and anticipating even more when her daddy will be home again with them. I absolutely love the art in this one; there are subtle bits of information half-hidden in the background–blurry photographs of a man and a girl all around the apartment, hints at an institutional setting when the father is first shown, expressions so real and so telling that they speak as much as the words do.

Coming on Home Soon, illustrated by E. B. Lewis Coming on Home Soon(2004, early to middle elementary): This Caldecott Honor book is set during World War II, and Ada Ruth’s mother has gone to Chicago to work for the railroad and support the family. Ada Ruth writes to her often, but a long time goes by without a response or any money sent back, and Grandma tells her to keep writing and that her mother will be “coming on home soon.” Winter comes, and with it a small black kitten that her grandmother insists can’t stay–but is allowed to anyway. Whenever the postman passes without stopping, they are both disappointed, but one day, after hunting for small game in the snow, they finally get the long-awaited letter that contains not only money but the promise that Ada Ruth’s mother will be “coming on home soon.” In the last pages, Ada Ruth relaxes in feelings of peace and remembering her mother’s love and her promise that she’s returning, and the very last page has no words but shows her mother, suitcase in hand, approaching their home through the snow.

Show WayShow Way, illustrated by Hudson Talbott (2005, early to middle elementary): Listed on her website as having “autobiographical content,” this tells the story of her family’s history as it was passed along through the female line. The first is her several-greats-grandmother who is sold at age seven and went to live in another state. There, the resident “grandma” taught the children stories of getting to freedom and showed them how to sew quilts that held a sort of coded map to help slaves escape. That woman grew up and taught her daughter how to sew, and that child was sold at age seven, and she both sewed clothing for the “big house” and the other slaves and also the same quilt maps–what they called a “Show Way.” Her daughter, Soonie, was born free in 1863, and she was told the old stories and taught to quilt, and she sewed the quilts to make a living. Her daughter Georgianna was a quick learner, and she had twin daughters named Ann (the author’s mother) and Caroline. When they were seven, they participated in civil rights marches, gripping pieces of one of the old quilts to help them be brave. When the author was seven, she “didn’t have to work in a field or walk in any Freedom lines,” but she learned to sew and learned the stories of her heritage as a kind of personal “Show Way.” And the author, too, passes these stories and this legacy of bravery and love to her own daughter.

Locomotion (2003) and Peace, Locomotion Locomotion(2009, upper elementary to middle school): I had recently finished reading Love That Dog with a group of students, and this book parallels that one in a lot of ways. Firstly, the main character, the narrator, is a boy who has a knack for poetry if not an automatic respect for it. Their teachers prompt them to continue to explore the different forms of poetry, and each uses poetry to work through a traumatic event from his past that continues to impact his life. Where the narrator of Love that Dog is mourning the loss of his pet, Lonnie is working through the loss of his parents and the realities of his life in foster care, separated from his little sister. The sequel, Peace, Locomotion, features letters Peace, Locomotionthat Lonnie writes to his sister (always signed “Peace, Locomotion”) but doesn’t send, and he is working through his resentment that she has seems to forget their parents in her eagerness to have a mama who is right here with her (her adoptive mother) as well as the internal struggles with his perceptions of Miss Edna (his adoptive mother) and the war that harmed one of her sons. I wasn’t able to get a copy of either of these books to reread, but the stories have stuck with me! While her books for younger readers touch on tough subjects, too, these books for the upper elementary and middle school crowd dig deeper and force readers to face difficult topics head on but still in an age-appropriate way.

Feathers (2007, upper elementary to middle school): FeathersSet in the 1970s, when a new boy joins Frannie’s all-black classroom, his appearance (white with long, curly hair) and demeanor (gentle but unafraid of confrontation) earn him the nickname “Jesus Boy” and a whole lot of rejection and harassment. Frannie’s dealing with her own problems with the stigma that her deaf brother faces, her increasingly religiously zealous friend Samantha who seems to almost idolize the Jesus Boy, and the fact that her 40-year-old mother is facing a difficult pregnancy after already experiencing the loss of a baby before her two living children were born and several others since then. Still, she comes to see the Jesus Boy as a person, and some other pigeon-holed  classmates like one, too, as she thinks more deeply about the complexities of living. The line of poetry she had loved the sound of but hadn’t understood becomes more clear, as well: “Hope is the thing with feathers” becomes “Each moment is a thing with feathers” to her. Each moment of life holds hope. This book was a 2008 Newbery Honor book.

I Hadn't Meant to Tell You ThisI Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This (1994) and Lena (1999, upper elementary to middle school): The subject matter of these two books is pretty bleak, to be honest, but it is dealt with in such a delicate but forthright way that I feel the books will enlighten as many as they help through tough times. I’m pretty much going to just lay out the issues addressed in the book: cancer and death, racism, abandonment, neglect, molestation, and runaways. I actually read these two books out of order, not knowing they were companion books, but it worked out fine that way, too. I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This is told in first-person from the point-of-view of Marie, a black girl who is the only child of a professor and whose mother has left them to travel the world. When Lena, a girl Marie’s father and many classmates refer to as “whitetrash,” comes to her school, Marie is assigned to help her get acquainted with things. Marie can see a brokenness in her, and she befriends her and her younger sister. Lena eventually confides to Marie that her father began touching her after her mother died of cancer. When he turns his attentions to her younger sister, she begins preparing to leave in order to protect her. The book ends somewhat abruptly with Lena calling Marie to tell her that they’ve left, and Marie seeing their empty house Lenaand hoping that they have found their safety and happiness. Lena is told from Lena’s point of view, and it chronicles what happens as she and her sister Dion hitchhike away from their father (with whom it’s revealed they weren’t supposed to be living after Lena first told someone about the molestation and they were removed from the home and separated). They are trying to get to their mother’s hometown in Kentucky, hoping that their relatives will take them in, but reality sets in as Lena realizes that if this family didn’t bother to respond when they were notified of her mother’s death, they likely were either all gone or didn’t care. When a kindly woman takes them in for the night after seeming to believe their story that they were trying to get to their mother who had just had a baby, Lena gets the courage to call Marie and tell her what is happening. In the end, perhaps contrary to what would likely happen in reality, Marie’s father, once he discovers what has really been going on with the sisters, wants to bring them home to live with him and Marie.

Brown Girl DreamingBrown Girl Dreaming (2014, upper elementary to middle school): In a style that expands on that found in Locomotion, the author tells her personal story in free verse. A story that reveals the turmoil and transitions that characterized the world in which she grew up and her world at home as she grew up in the 1960s and ’70s, this Newbery Honor book helps the reader see how the author became the writer she is, how her childhood successes and disappointments, joys and trials, gains and losses, and her family relationships shaped her life and her work. With contents much more engaging than a typical autobiography, there are also family trees and a number of old photographs of Ms. Woodson and many of her family members.

Jacqueline Woodson has written many other books for younger readers that I wasn’t able to get my hands on or finish in time, and she has written a number for older teens that have content too mature for the scope of this blog. She has a way of telling things how they are and making readers question if that’s how they should be, and I find her work to have an important place in children’s and YA literature. Her readers always have to think, and then they have to decide what to do with what they’ve learned about themselves and the world.

And, depending on the book, they may weep.

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