Brown Girl Dreaming

( 12 )

Overview

National Book Award Winner

Jacqueline Woodson, one of today's finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.
 
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil ...

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Brown Girl Dreaming

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Overview

National Book Award Winner

Jacqueline Woodson, one of today's finest writers, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.
 
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.
 
Praise for Jacqueline Woodson:
Ms. Woodson writes with a sure understanding of the thoughts of young people, offering a poetic, eloquent narrative that is not simply a story . . . but a mature exploration of grown-up issues and self-discovery.”—The New York Times Book Review

2014 National Book Award Winner for Young People's Literature
2015 Coretta Scott King Author Book Award Winner
A 2015 Newbery Honor Book
A 2015 Sibert Honor Book
2015 E. B. White Read Aloud Award Winner for Middle Readers

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Editorial Reviews

The New York Times Book Review - Veronica Chambers
…I suspect this book will be to a generation of girls what [Nikki] Giovanni's [Cotton Candy on a Rainy Day] was to mine: a history lesson, a mash note passed in class, a book to read burrowed underneath the bed covers and a life raft during long car rides when you want to float far from wherever you are, and wherever you're going, toward the person you feel destined to be…Woodson's writing can seem so spare, so effortless, that it is easy to overlook the wonder and magic of her words. The triumph of Brown Girl Dreaming is not just in how well Woodson tells us the story of her life, but in how elegantly she writes words that make us want to hold those carefully crafted poems close, apply them to our lives, reach into the mirror she holds up and make the words and the worlds she explores our own. This is a book full of poems that cry out to be learned by heart. These are poems that will, for years to come, be stored in our bloodstream.
Publishers Weekly
★ 05/26/2014
Written in verse, Woodson’s collection of childhood memories provides insight into the Newbery Honor author’s perspective of America, “a country caught/ between Black and White,” during the turbulent 1960s. Jacqueline was born in Ohio, but spent much of her early years with her grandparents in South Carolina, where she learned about segregation and was made to follow the strict rules of Jehovah’s Witnesses, her grandmother’s religion. Wrapped in the cocoon of family love and appreciative of the beauty around her, Jacqueline experiences joy and the security of home. Her move to Brooklyn leads to additional freedoms, but also a sense of loss: “Who could love/ this place—where/ no pine trees grow, no porch swings move/ with the weight of/ your grandmother on them.” The writer’s passion for stories and storytelling permeates the memoir, explicitly addressed in her early attempts to write books and implicitly conveyed through her sharp images and poignant observations seen through the eyes of a child. Woodson’s ability to listen and glean meaning from what she hears lead to an astute understanding of her surroundings, friends, and family. Ages 10–up. Agent: Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency. (Aug.)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books
* “The effect of this confiding and rhythmic memoir is cumulative, as casual references blossom into motifs and characters evolve from quick references to main players. . . . Revealing slices of life, redolent in sight, sound, and emotion. . . . Woodson subtly layers her focus, with history and geography the background, family the middle distance, and her younger self the foreground. . . . Eager readers and budding writers will particularly see themselves in the young protagonist and recognize her reveling in the luxury of the library and unfettered delight in words. . . . A story of the ongoing weaving of a family tapestry, the following of an individual thread through a gorgeous larger fabric, with the tacit implication that we’re all traversing such rich landscapes. It will make young readers consider where their own threads are taking them.”
STARRED REVIEW Booklist
* “[Woodson’s] memoir in verse is a marvel, as it turns deeply felt remembrances of Woodson’s preadolescent life into art. . . . Her mother cautions her not to write about her family but, happily, many years later, she has and the result is both elegant and eloquent, a haunting book about memory that is itself altogether memorable.
The Horn Book
* “A memoir-in-verse so immediate that readers will feel they are experiencing the author’s childhood right along with her. . . . Most notably of all, perhaps, we trace her development as a nascent writer, from her early, overarching love of stories through her struggles to learn to read through the thrill of her first blank composition book to her realization that ‘words are [her] brilliance.’ The poetry here sings: specific, lyrical, and full of imagery. An extraordinary—indeed brilliant—portrait of a writer as a young girl.”
Library Media Connection
* “Woodson uses clear, evocative language. . . . A beautifully crafted work.”
From the Publisher
* “The writer’s passion for stories and storytelling permeates the memoir, explicitly addressed in her early attempts to write books and implicitly conveyed through her sharp images and poignant observations seen through the eyes of a child. Woodson’s ability to listen and glean meaning from what she hears lead to an astute understanding of her surroundings, friends, and family.” — Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

* “Mesmerizing journey through [Woodson’s] early years. . . . Her perspective on the volatile era in which she grew up is thoughtfully expressed in powerfully effective verse. . . . With exquisite metaphorical verse Woodson weaves a patchwork of her life experience . . . that covers readers with a warmth and sensitivity no child should miss. This should be on every library shelf.” — School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

* “Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned. For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share.” — Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

* “[Woodson’s] memoir in verse is a marvel, as it turns deeply felt remembrances of Woodson’s preadolescent life into art. . . . Her mother cautions her not to write about her family but, happily, many years later, she has and the result is both elegant and eloquent, a haunting book about memory that is itself altogether memorable. — Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

* “A memoir-in-verse so immediate that readers will feel they are experiencing the author’s childhood right along with her. . . . Most notably of all, perhaps, we trace her development as a nascent writer, from her early, overarching love of stories through her struggles to learn to read through the thrill of her first blank composition book to her realization that ‘words are [her] brilliance.’ The poetry here sings: specific, lyrical, and full of imagery. An extraordinary—indeed brilliant—portrait of a writer as a young girl.” — The Horn Book, STARRED REVIEW

* “The effect of this confiding and rhythmic memoir is cumulative, as casual references blossom into motifs and characters evolve from quick references to main players. . . . Revealing slices of life, redolent in sight, sound, and emotion. . . . Woodson subtly layers her focus, with history and geography the background, family the middle distance, and her younger self the foreground. . . . Eager readers and budding writers will particularly see themselves in the young protagonist and recognize her reveling in the luxury of the library and unfettered delight in words. . . . A story of the ongoing weaving of a family tapestry, the following of an individual thread through a gorgeous larger fabric, with the tacit implication that we’re all traversing such rich landscapes. It will make young readers consider where their own threads are taking them.” — The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, STARRED REVIEW

* “Woodson uses clear, evocative language. . . . A beautifully crafted work.” — Library Media Connection, STARRED REVIEW

VOYA, October 2014 (Vol. 37, No. 4) - Deborah L. Dubois
Woodson tells the story of her life against the backdrop of the civil rights movement of the 1960s and 1970s in this fictionalized memoir. Beautifully written in verse, it shows the difficulty of not feeling at home in any one place. Jacqueline was born in Ohio but moves to South Carolina with her mother, brother, and sister at age one, when her parents split. Her grandparents become like mom and dad, especially when her mother moves to New York looking for work. Just as she feels she has found her place in Greenville, her mother moves them to New York with her, where she feels she does not quite belong. When she goes back to South Carolina for the summer, she does not feel quite at home there anymore either. As she grows, Jacqueline finds her purpose in the telling of stories, despite her early difficulty with reading. Her proudest moment is when a teacher identifies her as a “writer.” Poetry is an excellent vehicle for illustrating her emotions while she tries to make sense of the world that is changing so rapidly around her. She conveys a genuine feel for the experience of African Americans in the era where they are moving from the back of the bus to being accepted everywhere, especially from a child’s point of view. This would be a great addition to a history lesson on race in America during the civil rights era. Reviewer: Deborah L. Dubois; Ages 12 to 18.
School Library Journal
★ 07/01/2014
Gr 4–7—"I am born in Ohio but the stories of South Carolina already run like rivers through my veins" writes Woodson as she begins her mesmerizing journey through her early years. She was born in Columbus, Ohio in 1963, "as the South explodes" into a war for civil rights and was raised in South Carolina and then New York. Her perspective on the volatile era in which she grew up is thoughtfully expressed in powerfully effective verse, (Martin Luther King is ready to march on Washington; Malcom X speaks about revolution; Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat only seven years earlier and three years have passed since Ruby Bridges walks into an all-white school). She experienced firsthand the acute differences in how the "colored" were treated in the North and South. "After the night falls and it is safe for brown people to leave the South without getting stopped and sometimes beaten and always questioned; We board the Greyhound bus bound for Ohio." She related her difficulties with reading as a child and living in the shadow of her brilliant older sister, she never abandoned her dream of becoming a writer. With exquisite metaphorical verse Woodson weaves a patchwork of her life experience, from her supportive, loving maternal grandparents, her mother's insistence on good grammar, to the lifetime friend she meets in New York, that covers readers with a warmth and sensitivity no child should miss. This should be on every library shelf.—D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2014-06-25
A multiaward-winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is "a country caught / / between Black and White." But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father's people in Ohio and her mother's people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah's Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe's Stevie and Langston Hughes' poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that "[W]ords are my brilliance." Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780399252518
  • Publisher: Penguin Young Readers Group
  • Publication date: 8/28/2014
  • Pages: 336
  • Sales rank: 620
  • Age range: 10 - 14 Years
  • Lexile: 990L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Jacqueline Woodson (www.jacquelinewoodson.com) is the winner of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults, the recipient of three Newbery Honors for After Tupac and D Foster, Feathers and Show Way, and a two-time finalist for the National Book Award for Locomotion and Hush. Other awards include the Coretta Scott King Award and Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Miracle's Boys. Her most recent books are her novel Beneath a Meth Moon and her picture books Each Kindness and This Is the Rope. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.

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Read an Excerpt

February 12th 1963

I am born on a Tuesday at the University Hospital
Columbus, Ohio
USA—
a country caught

between Black and White.

I am born not long from the time or far from the place where my great, great grandparents worked the deep rich land unfree dawn till dusk unpaid drank cool water from scooped out gourds looked up and followed the sky’s mirrored constellation to freedom.

I am born as the south explodes,
too many people too many years enslaved then emancipated but not free, the people who look like me keep fighting and marching and getting killed so that today—
February Twelfth Nineteen Sixty-three and every day from this moment on,
brown children, like me, can grow up free. Can grow up learning and voting and walking and riding wherever we want.

I am born in Ohio but the stories of South Carolina already run like rivers through my veins.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 12 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(7)

4 Star

(2)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

(0)

1 Star

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Sort by: Showing all of 12 Customer Reviews
  • Posted September 26, 2014

    Can I give this more than 5 stars? I fell in love with this book

    Can I give this more than 5 stars? I fell in love with this book. I teach 8th grade at an all girls' public school and I cannot wait to order 115 copies.  This is a book that every brown girl should read.  You will LOVE this book.  It' inspired me as a woman, teacher and brown girl that's all grown up now.  

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 6, 2014

    more from this reviewer

    It¿s like a soft blanket, the voice of Morgan Freeman reading ou

    It’s like a soft blanket, the voice of Morgan Freeman reading out loud to me, the purring of a kitten, Woodson words were warm and heartfelt as I read Brown Girl Dreaming, not wanting to put the book down. The words just flowing along like a babbling brook even though the text itself is not tranquil, it is the way the author strings the words together that brought harmony to its composition. Written in verse, Jacqueline tells her families story. Her father is content and determined to maintain his Northern upbringing while her mother loves the South. There is conflict among the parents but in the end, mother returns to her childhood home with the children. The South, the home is surrounded with love, laughter, restrictions and family. Shared with their grandparents, the privilege of massaging grandmother’s feet after she returns from daywork, put smiles on my face. The children’s anticipation of her stories, the author created this beautiful picture of this loving exchange between the generations. Mother wants to create her own home and heads North, the children staying with the grandparents where they influence the children more as the South engrains more into their minds. Jacqueline honesty and the ability to see the world through her eyes has me laughing and smiling as she sees and says things firsthand. It’s a story only Jacqueline can tell, for if anyone else were to tell the same story, it would not have the same effect. It’s a fantastic book, definitely worth reading once, twice or many times.
    “Our mama shushes us, says,
    It’s too late for presents and the like.
    But we want presents and the like. “ (their Uncle Robert came to see them)

    “And when we are called by our names
    my grandmother
    makes them all one
    HopeDellJackie
    but my grandfather
    takes his own sweet time, saying each
    as if he has all day long

    or a whole lifetime.”

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted December 29, 2014

          Telling the story of Jacqueline Woodson¿s childhood, begin

          Telling the story of Jacqueline Woodson’s childhood, beginning in Ohio, then living in the South in the middle of the Civil Rights movement and ultimately ending up in New York City, the city of dreams and light. Beautifully told in verse, Woodson’s story shares their triumphs of life and love of family. It’s really a love letter to her family, whether it be good or bad, and a snapshot of her childhood life.
                Woodson doesn’t hold any punches in her writings. She discusses without sugarcoating her religious upbringing in the Jehovah’s Witnesses, her absentee father, her unwed mother and the surprise of a younger half white sibling and what his arrival meant to her family. Jackie’s time in the South is marked by sit-ins, black’s only restrooms, and the trying times her family endures when fighting for their own rights in this controversial period of American history.
                Gorgeously written, Woodson’s story speaks to the human experience. Covering such taboo topics as religion, race, poverty, education, incarceration, death, sickness, unplanned pregnancies, learning disabilities, absentee parents and growing up. This story is so much more than a coming of age novel, it’s a historical document testifying to our past and giving us hope for our future.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2015

    Memoir written as a Poem

    Fascinating life, told in verse.
    I would love to use this as a read aloud for my students.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2015

    So warm! Loved it!

    This book and the poems within had me go through a myriad of emotions. I laughed, cried, I was hopeful and saddened...at the end, I wanted more.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted March 27, 2015

    K

    Kiss your hand and post this on three other books and an iphone five wio

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 14, 2015

    This book is simply exquisite!  I've read many books that have w

    This book is simply exquisite!  I've read many books that have won awards and have scratched my head and wondered "why?.
    This book deserves every literary award there is.

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  • Posted March 2, 2015

    Not highly recommeded

    I struggled to finish this book! Can't imagine why it would appeal to the age group it was intended for. I finished reading it only because of book club!

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 7, 2015

    Thank you!!!!!!!!

    This is such a good book.i loved it it is such a embracing book.it really is such a open poetry book.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Posted January 9, 2015

    more from this reviewer

    I loved this book!

    I just enjoyed this book! Niclely written, really put me right within the pages.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 2, 2015

    Great for a young reader

    The book was not was I expected. However, I think this would be excellent for a young reader. Overall I greatly enjoyed her story and way of writing.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2015

    Hey

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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