Saturday, September 20, 2014

Brown Girl Dreaming

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson is the THIRD collection of poems in novel length I've read and enjoyed this year. I may have to revise my "I hate verse books" stance if this keeps up. It's been a very good year for them.

Brown Girl Dreaming is a collection of poems about her childhood Woodson wrote. It begins with her birth and goes through about 5th grade and chronicles her early years in South Carolina and her elementary years in New York City. Both southern and northern city girl, Woodson's poems reflect her desire for a home and place, but the pull of two and not really belonging fully to either. As she was born in 1963, the book is set agains the backdrop of Civil Rights, Black Panthers, and Vietnam. There are difficult themes and scenarios explored, but all through the view of her child's eyes, making them easy for child readers to relate to and understand. In giving the world her story, she has opened a window on the time period, but also given us all a window into how a child perceived it. It is excellent and very well done.

What struck me most about the poems was Woodson's use of imagery. The places she is are so well described you feel like you are actually there. Her talent for imagery and description extends itself to the people around her so that I felt like I actually knew them and could picture them plainly in front of me. The book made me cry and laugh. I do think it is a little long, but since it is poetry it is still a rather quick read.

The long list for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature was released this week and it is no surprise that Brown Girl Dreaming is on it.


Heidi said...

Oooh, what were the other two, if I might ask? I've always claimed to hate novels in verse as well, and yet really enjoyed the one I've read (My Book of Life by Angel) enough that I still think about it several years later. I've wanted to pick this one up--she's had such an interesting past, or at least perceives and shares things in such an interesting manner.

Brandy said...

The other two are The Crossover by Kwame Alexander and Poisoned Apples by Christine Heppermann.

Anonymous said...

I've been hearing good things about this book from the blogosphere. I have it on my wishlist. Will probably grab a copy when I'm in the mood for a short read because novels in verse are pretty easy to get through.