Park’s extended rumination has the power to bring us home.

THE ONE THING YOU'D SAVE

A poetic exploration of middle-grade values.

Newbery Medalist Park presents a provocative collection of narrative poems inspired by sijo, a 14th-century Korean syllabic verse form. Teacher Ms. Chang poses to her class a variation of the timeless desert-island question: “Imagine that your home is on fire,” and, while family and pets are spared, “you’re allowed to save one thing.” Chang’s students react well to this “good homework,” sharing with their classmates a multitude of objects they’d protect from the hypothetical flames. Some choose eminently practical items like a cellphone (“somebody’s gotta call 9-1-1, right?”) and “MY DAD’S WALLET. DUH” (because “if a fire burns everything up, you’re gonna need money. A lot”). Other treasures reflect differing levels of maturity and self- involvement: a mother’s insulin kit, a rug to smother flames, sneakers like “Jeremy Lin wore when he scored thirty-eight points / against the Lakers” and for which the student had saved pennies for months, a “muddy blue” sweater May’s father’s mother had knit for her father that her other grandmother then unraveled and reknit for her. Coupled with debut illustrator Sae-Heng’s accessible grayscale sketches of the objects, often in situ, Park’s subjects’ mementos offer middle-grade readers much food for thought regarding what one values and how others can touch one’s life. Names and other details indicate a diverse class. A note on sijo concludes the volume.

Park’s extended rumination has the power to bring us home. (Verse fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 16, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-328-51513-1

Page Count: 72

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Jan. 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2021

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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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  • New York Times Bestseller

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  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner

BROWN GIRL DREAMING

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)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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NIGHTBIRD

There’s a monster in Sidwell, Massachusetts, that can only be seen at night or, as Twig reveals, if passersby are near her house.

It’s her older brother, James, born with wings just like every male in the Fowler line for the last 200 years. They were cursed by the Witch of Sidwell, left brokenhearted by their forebear Lowell Fowler. Twig and James are tired of the secret and self-imposed isolation. Lonely Twig narrates, bringing the small town and its characters to life, intertwining events present and past, and describing the effects of the spell on her fractured family’s daily life. Longing for some normalcy and companionship, she befriends new-neighbor Julia while James falls in love with Julia’s sister, Agate—only to learn they are descendants of the Witch. James and Agate seem as star-crossed as their ancestors, especially when the townspeople attribute a spate of petty thefts and graffiti protesting the development of the woods to the monster and launch a hunt. The mix of romance and magic is irresistible and the tension, compelling. With the help of friends and through a series of self-realizations and discoveries, Twig grows more self-assured. She is certain she knows how to change the curse. In so doing, Twig not only changes James’ fate, but her own, for the first time feeling the fullness of family, friends and hope for the future.

Enchanting. (Magical realism. 9-12)

Pub Date: March 10, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-385-38958-7

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Wendy Lamb/Random

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2015

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