Wednesday, July 13, 2011


     Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson is an amazing book.  It is one of those books that teaches you about life, but doesn't knock you over the head with the lessons. 
     Frannie is in sixth grade when a new boy moves in.  Frannie knows what it is like to be the new kid, but it is even worse when you are the only white student in the school and happen to look like Jesus.  The other students immediately pick on him and start calling him Jesus Boy.  Frannie is fascinated and repelled by Jesus Boy.  When he signs to her, she thinks he is trying to embarrass her in front of the other kids.  They don't know Frannie has a brother who is deaf or that her mother has lost two babies and is pregnant again.  Since death has been a part of her family's life since before she was born, Frannie worries incessantly about her brother and her mother.  She searches for meaning in everything and everyone around her.  After reading an Emily Dickinson's poem "Hope" in school, she begins looking for ways hope is like feathers.
     The novel taught me about the importance of hope, to stop worrying about what life might bring and enjoy the moment I have, the pain of judgement and prejudice, and what it means to be a "good" person.  The author did a great job of incorporating the lessons into the story for Frannie to learn.  
     Feathers won a Newberry Honor.  It is a quick read at 118 pages, so it's perfect for a summer afternoon in a hammock or at the beach.  It is a lower reading level so kids can read it, but I don't think they would appreciate the subtleties of the characters or situations.  However, it is a great book for mature readers, adults, or as a classroom novel with the teacher explaining the themes and symbolism in the book. 

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