Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Tween Tuesday: Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson

Tween Tuesday is a meme hosted by Green Bean Teen Queen and it focuses on great books for tweens.  Please check her out for more reading ideas.
Title: Feathers
Author: Jacqueline Woodson
Publisher: Scholastic (January 8, 2009)
Paperback: 118 pages
Rating:  5 of 5 stars
Honors: Newberry Honor

From the back:
Frannie doesn't know what to make of the poem she's reading in school. She hasn't thought much about hope. There are so many other things to think about. Each day, her friend Samantha seems a bit more "holy." There is a new boy in class everyone is calling the Jesus Boy. And althrough the new boy looks like a white kid, he says he's not white. Who is he?
 During a winter full of surprises, good and bad, Frannie starts seeing a lot of things in a new light--her brother Sean's deafness, her mother's fear, the class bully's anger, her best friend's faith and her own desire for "the thing with feathers."
My thoughts:
Frannie, the 6th grade narrator, is fascinated with Emily Dickinson's poetic lines, "Hope is the thing with feathers. . ." and struggles with making meaning of the poem in her own life. Woodson is an expert in the tween voice and her characters are keen observers as well as moral centers for her books. Although Frannie faces so much sadness, both in her life and those around her, she shows a great maturity and sensitivity. Woodson reminds us in her books that there is hope, and goodness and dignity.

This Newberry Honor book swept me away from page one with its sparse, poetic rhythms, strong imagery and vivid color.  Woodson writes:
The day before, Ms. Johnson had read us a poem about hope getting inside you and never stopping. I had written that part of the poem down--Hope is a thing with feathers-- because I had loved the sound of it. Loved the way the words seemed to float across my notebook.
The lives of Frannie, Jesus Boy, Sean (her deaf older brother), and Mama float across the pages of this book and "perch in my soul."


Color Online said...

I loved this book. Some think it might go over children's heads, but I think many will get something worthwhile from it.

It is tender, honest and hopeful.

Thanks for the review.

Tammy said...

Sounds like a beautiful book that I should get my hands on. Thanks for the review.

GreenBeanTeenQueen said...

Sounds like a great read!

Cathy Ikeda said...

Color Online -
I think what really sold me on this book was hearing Ms. Woodson read it at a conference. When she reads, the rhythm of her prose just comes alive. She doesn't read from notes, but instead, just reads, as if she's doing a spoken word poem. It's magical.