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In this powerful novel researched in NYC schools, Newbery Medalist Virginia Hamilton documents the struggle young people face as they simultaneously assert their independence and yearn for guidance.

Friendship isn't always easy. Natalie is different from the other girls in Dreenie's fifth-grade class. She comes to school in a wheelchair, always wearing a knitted hat. The kids call her "Bluish" because her skin is tinted blue from chemotherapy. Dreenie is fascinated by Bluish --...

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In this powerful novel researched in NYC schools, Newbery Medalist Virginia Hamilton documents the struggle young people face as they simultaneously assert their independence and yearn for guidance.

Friendship isn't always easy. Natalie is different from the other girls in Dreenie's fifth-grade class. She comes to school in a wheelchair, always wearing a knitted hat. The kids call her "Bluish" because her skin is tinted blue from chemotherapy. Dreenie is fascinated by Bluish -- and a little scared of her, too. She watches Bluish and writes her observations in her journal. Slowly, the two girls become good friends. But Dreenie still struggles with with Bluish's illness. Bluish is weak and frail, but she also wants to be independent and respected. How do you act around a girl like that?

Ten-year-old Dreenie feels both intrigued and frightened when she thinks about the girl nicknamed Bluish, whose leukemia is making her pale and causing her to use a wheelchair.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
When she starts at a new school, Dreenie feels drawn to a frail classmate, whom everyone calls "Bluish." In a starred review, PW said, "Readers will come to cherish Dreenie's openheartedness." Ages 9-12. (June) Fiction REPRINTS Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Integrating third-person narrative with entries from fifth-grader Dreenie's journal, Hamilton (Second Cousins) poignantly traces the evolution of an unusual friendship. When she starts a new school, Dreenie feels drawn to a frail classmate named Nathalie, whom everyone calls "Bluish" ("This girl is like moonlight. So pale you see the blue veins all over"). Sitting in her wheelchair, always wearing a cap ("like half a bowl") and carrying a puppy ("Nobody brings a dog to school!"), Bluish at first seems unapproachable, but Dreenie is determined to edge carefully closer. She succeeds at winning the girl's trust while helping to break down the barrier that separates Bluish from the other students. Spare prose expresses each stage of the girls' relationship, which sometimes appears as fragile as Bluish herself. Hamilton effectively weaves in details about Dreenie's Amsterdam Avenue neighborhood in New York, her school and her attention-hungry sidekick, Tulie, adding dimension and solidity to the story. The girl's nickname also introduces an understated exploration of what it means to be different. Readers will come to cherish Dreenie's openheartedness, just as Dreenie comes to cherish her new-found friend. Ages 9-14. (Oct.) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
Gr 5-8-Ten-year-old Dreenie, a recent transfer to a New York City magnet school, is fascinated with her fellow classmate Natalie, a girl battling leukemia. Kids call her Bluish, not a derogatory term for her black and Jewish heritage, "Blewish," but because of the effects of chemotherapy on her skin. Dreenie's other friend, Tuli, is a flamboyant girl who is looking for the stability and normalcy that Dreenie and her family have. Through four weeks in December, these three girls move into a closer circle of friendship, with alternating feelings of fear, generosity, and kindness. Together, they are able to reach out to the rest of the class in accepting and celebrating Bluish as she is. Though her future is uncertain-it will take five years of remission before any assurance-readers are left seeing curly copper hair hiding under her skullcap, delighting her friends and inspiring hope. The narration alternates between Dreenie's journal and a third-person narrator, allowing readers to glimpse the firsthand incredulity of a child witnessing serious illness and also the reaction of a classroom community as it follows the highs and lows of Bluish's health. This structure doesn't always work, and readers may be puzzled when the narrative voice switches from third person to include Dreenie's journal entries. Hamilton occasionally slips into a heavy-handed adult perspective that does not reflect a 10-year-old's experience. At times, topics are introduced but are never fleshed out, such as Tuli's capricious living situation or Dreenie's sister's accusation that Dreenie "sure ain't one of us Anneva and Gerald Browns." A sensitive and quiet story that is not fully realized.-Katie O'Dell Madison, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Over the course of four weeks in December, three girls form a close, hard-won friendship in this novel by Virginia Hamilton (Blue Sky Press, 1999). Dreenie, a fifth grader in New York City, comes from a loving home with two parents. Tuli, a biracial girl who pretends to be Latina, needs lots of attention and support from Dreenie. And then there's Natalie. The kids in school call her Bluish because her chemotherapy treatments for leukemia have left her with skin so pale that it looks almost blue. Dreenie is cautious about Natalie at first, reacting to her wheelchair and her prickly dislike of being on the receiving end of anyone's pity. As Dreenie begins to truly empathize with Bluish, the rest of the class begins to follow. The changes in point of view are somewhat confusing when reading the text, but the recording alleviates this problem. Actress Lisa Renee Pitts ably gives each character her own voice, helping to clarify changes in perspective. Tuli is exaggeratedly Latina, Bluish has a tiny and high voice, and Dreenie sounds like a New Yorker. A well-done audiobook dealing with the themes of differences, independence, friendship, and acceptance.-B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Memorial Library, Sag Harbor, NY Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780439367868
  • Publisher: Scholastic, Inc.
  • Publication date: 6/28/2002
  • Format: Mass Market Paperback
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 128
  • Sales rank: 574,949
  • Age range: 8 - 12 Years
  • Product dimensions: 5.24 (w) x 7.60 (h) x 0.35 (d)

Meet the Author

Virginia Hamilton

Virginia Hamilton (1936-2002) changed children's literature for generations of readers, winning every major award in her field across the globe. Her awards and honors include the Newbery Medal, the National Book Award, the Boston Globe-Horn Book Award, the Hans Christian Andersen Medal, a MacArthur Fellowship, and four honorary doctorates. Virginia was married to Arnold Adoff, and they have two children and one grandchild.


A writer of prodigious gifts, Virginia Hamilton forged a new kind of juvenile fiction by twining African-American and Native American history and folklore with contemporary stories and plotlines.

With Hamilton's first novel, Zeely, the story of a young farm girl who fantasizes that a woman she knows is a Watusi queen, she set the bar high. The book won a American Library Association Notable Children's Book citation. Hamilton rose to her own challenge, and every new book she published enriched American literature to such a degree that in 1995 she was awarded the ALA's Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for lifetime achievement.

Born in Yellow Springs, Ohio, and raised in an extended family of farmers and storytellers (her own father was a musician), Hamilton's work was inspired by her childhood experiences, family mythology, and Ohio River Valley homeland. In an article about the importance of libraries in children's lives, she credits her mother and the "story lady" at her childhood public library with opening her mind to the world of books.

Although she spent time in New York City working as a bookkeeper after college, and traveled widely in Africa and Europe, Hamilton spent most of her life in Yellow Springs, anchored by the language, geography, and culture of southern Ohio. In The House of Dies Drear, she arranged her story around the secrets of the Underground Railroad. In M. C. Higgins, the Great, winner of both a John Newbery Medal and a National Book Award, she chronicled the struggles of a family whose land, and life spirit, is threatened by strip mining. Publishers Weekly called the novel "one of those rare books which draws the reader in with the first paragraph and keeps him or her turning the page until the end."

In her series of folk-tale collections, including The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales, In the Beginning: Creation Stories from Around the World, and Her Stories: African American Folktales, Fairy Tales, and True Tales, Hamilton salvaged and burnished folk tales from cultures across the world for her stories; stories that suffused her fiction with its extraordinary blend of worldly and otherworldly events, enchantment, and modern reality. Virginia Hamilton died on February 19, 2002.

Good To Know

Hamilton's first research trip to a library was to find out more about her family's exotic chickens, which her mother called "rainbow layers," because of the many tints of the eggs they laid.

In 1995, Hamilton became the first children's writer to win a John D. and Catherine C. MacArthur "genius" grant.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      March 12, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      Yellow Springs, Ohio
    1. Date of Death:
      February 19, 2002
    2. Place of Death:
      Yellow Springs, Ohio
    1. Education:
      Attended Antioch College, Ohio State University, and the New School for Social Research
    2. Website:

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 2, 2013


    This book os so open hearted . Dreenie can accoplish any thing and I love natilie. These characters in the story share what it is like to be different:-D

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2013


    Name: Vynx <br>
    Gender: Mare <br>
    Age: 9 <br>
    Appearance: Colbalt blue pegasus, light blue wet mane Fluttershy style mane (look up wet mane fluttershy on google), neon teal Rainbow Dash eyes. Cutie Mark is a Master Ball with a purple stalk and flag, golden moon encircling it, bright yellow sparkles. <br>
    Personality: This is me, so I dunno. <br>
    Pets: Zooey (her dog), and her Pokemon (Kyruem, Umbreon, Tranquill, Emboar, Celebi, and Stoutland).

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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