TO TELL YOU THE TRUTH

Stories, whether they are sad or happy—or both—reveal truths that make a difference and that can heal.

Nothing illustrates this better than the stories about her childhood that Gran whispered into Trixy’s ears, right up until her tragic death. Trixy feels better as she shares Gran’s stories at school, but no one, not even her mother, believes they are true. Mama resents that Gran didn’t talk about her past with her and struggles with her grief. Determined Trixy sets out to uncover the truth. She stows away on a road trip that her friend Raymond Crickett and his sister are taking with their dad’s band. As it happens, many of the stops are places in Tennessee that Gran had outlined as tour stops for Mr. Crickett years before. Trixy narrates with spirit and insight, describing the present-day events and interspersing them with Gran’s colorful stories about the past. Sure enough, Gran’s tales provide a path to reunion and reconciliation. As the richly drawn characters, past and present, are introduced, their storylines and their lives become interwoven. Themes of love, abandonment, hardship, and triumph are explored. Difficult topics and dramatic revelations are softened by the leisurely pace and the humorous interactions between headstrong Trixy and sensible, sensitive Raymond. Most satisfying of all is that Gran’s tales prepare Trixy for her own future. Main characters default to White.

Poignant and uplifting. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: June 8, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-7859-6

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Atheneum

Review Posted Online: April 14, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 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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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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