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Brown Girl Dreaming
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Brown Girl Dreaming
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A New York Times Bestseller and National Book Award Winner Jacqueline Woodson, the acclaimed author of Red at the Bone, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.   Raised in...
A New York Times Bestseller and National Book Award Winner Jacqueline Woodson, the acclaimed author of Red at the Bone, tells the moving story of her childhood in mesmerizing verse.   Raised in...
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  • A New York Times Bestseller and National Book Award Winner

    Jacqueline Woodson, the acclaimed author of
    Red at the Bone, 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.
    A National Book Award Winner
    A Newbery Honor Book

    A Coretta Scott King Award Winner
    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



  • From the book february 12, 1963

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

    between Black and White.

    I am born not long from the time
    or far from the place
    my great, great grandparents
    worked the deep rich land
    dawn till dusk
    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 12, 1963
    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.

    second daughter’s second day on earth
    My birth certificate says: Female Negro
    Mother: Mary Anne Irby, 22, Negro
    Father: Jack Austin Woodson, 25, Negro
    In Birmingham, Alabama, Martin Luther King Jr.
    is planning a march on Washington, where
    John F. Kennedy is president.
    In Harlem, Malcolm X is standing on a soapbox
    talking about a revolution.
    Outside the window of University Hospital,
    snow is slowly falling. So much already
    covers this vast Ohio ground.
    In Montgomery, only seven years have passed
    since Rosa Parks refused
    to give up
    her seat on a city bus.
    I am born brown-skinned, black-haired
    and wide-eyed.
    I am born Negro here and Colored there
    and somewhere else,
    the Freedom Singers have linked arms,
    their protests rising into song:
    Deep in my heart, I do believe
    that we shall overcome someday.
    and somewhere else, James Baldwin
    is writing about injustice, each novel,
    each essay, changing the world.
    I do not yet know who I’ll be
    what I’ll say
    how I’ll say it . . .
    Not even three years have passed since a brown girl
    named Ruby Bridges
    walked into an all-white school.
    Armed guards surrounded her while hundreds
    of white people spat and called her names.
    She was six years old.
    I do not know if I’ll be strong like Ruby.
    I do not know what the world will look like
    when I am finally able to walk, speak, write . . .
    Another Buckeye!
    the nurse says to my mother.
    Already, I am being named for this place.
    Ohio. The Buckeye State.
    My fingers curl into fists, automatically
    This is the way, my mother said,
    of every baby’s hand.
    I do not know if these hands will become
    Malcolm’s—raised and fisted
    or Martin’s—open and asking
    or James’s—curled around a pen.
    I do not know if these hands will be
    or Ruby’s
    gently gloved
    and fiercely folded
    calmly in a lap,
    on a desk,
    around a book,
    to change the world . . .
    it’ll be scary sometimes
    My great-great-grandfather on my...


  • DOGO Books ocelot - This was definitely a really good read, and I would recommend it to anyone at all, any age. I received this book as a prize from last year's summer reading program. This is a book filled with poems to tell a story. A story of a young black girl who was born in Columbus, Ohio during the Civil Rights movement. According to the story, 'A country caught/Between Black and White.' This book is, essentially, an autobiography of a young girl growing up during the Civil Rights Movement, and how she finds her place, 'that's caught between Black and White.' Every poem is a reminder of the differences that America had in the past, and how it has changed drastically. Read this touching book to find out what happens!
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 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.

  • Kirkus

    Starred review from July 15, 2014
    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)

    COPYRIGHT(2014) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    Starred review from July 1, 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

    Copyright 2014 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Booklist

    Starred review from August 1, 2014
    Grades 5-8 *Starred Review* What is this book about? In an appended author's note, Woodson says it best: my past, my people, my memories, my story. The resulting memoir in verse is a marvel, as it turns deeply felt remembrances of Woodson's preadolescent life into art, through memories of her homes in Ohio, South Carolina, and, finally, New York City, and of her friends and family. Small thingsice cream from the candy store, her grandfather's garden, fireflies in jelly jarsbecome large as she recalls them and translates them into words. She gives context to her life as she writes about racial discrimination, the civil rights movement, and, later, Black Power. But her focus is always on her family. Her earliest years are spent in Ohio, but after her parents separate, her mother moves her children to South Carolina to live with Woodson's beloved grandparents, and then to New York City, a place, Woodson recalls, of gray rock, cold and treeless as a bad dream. But in time it, too, becomes home; she makes a best friend, Maria, and begins to dream of becoming a writer when she gets her first composition notebook and then discovers she has a talent for telling stories. Her mother cautions her not to write about her family, but, happily, many years later she hasand the result is both elegant and eloquent, a haunting book about memory that is itself altogether memorable.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2014, American Library Association.)

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    Penguin Young Readers Group
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