Striking use of everyday images and timely themes makes this free verse collection meaningful, memorable, and accessible.

EVERYTHING COMES NEXT

COLLECTED AND NEW POEMS

Young People’s Poet Laureate Nye explores childhood, conflict, and connectivity through over 100 of her poems, both new and classic.

In the opening section, “The Holy Land of Childhood,” she draws from her childhood and those of others, often speaking from the child’s perspective, striking notes of loneliness, fear, and playfulness. Writing was her refuge from desperately boring early readers while a school assignment to write from the perspective of a kitchen implement turned her into “a sweet sifter in time.” Sad vignettes of her childhood home sit alongside humorous memories. Personal images of war, displacement, and loss pepper the second section, “The Holy Land That Isn’t,” in which Nye focuses on her Palestinian immigrant father’s loss of his Jerusalem home, crystallized in his longing for the figs of his childhood. In a poem dedicated to the great Israeli poet Yehuda Amichai, she pleads for peace for “every ancient space” and, in another, observes “red poppies sleep beneath / dirt and stones” beside the homes of fearful Arab and Jewish children living only “one mile apart.” The final section, “People Are the Only Holy Land,” stresses similarities between diverse peoples, invoking a vision of a world where “it is only kindness that makes sense anymore.” López's evocative art perfectly captures and enhances the mood of dreaming and yearning. Emotionally resonant and stirring, this is a must-have title.

Striking use of everyday images and timely themes makes this free verse collection meaningful, memorable, and accessible. (afterword, notes on poems) (Poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Sept. 29, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-06-301345-2

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Greenwillow Books

Review Posted Online: July 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 2020

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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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