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The Borning Room (Charlotte Zolotow Books) Mass Market Paperback – May 30, 1993


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 11 and up
  • Grade Level: 6 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 800L (What's this?)
  • Series: Charlotte Zolotow Books
  • Mass Market Paperback: 106 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins (May 30, 1993)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0064470997
  • ISBN-13: 978-0064470995
  • Product Dimensions: 7 x 4.2 x 0.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,360,119 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Borning rooms, common in many early American homes, were located off the kitchen and reserved for births, illnesses and deaths. Here the room serves as a kind of touchstone, a central symbol for the story of Georgina Lott. Fleischman's first-person narrative can best be described as a series of snapshots of a 19th-century life. He fast-forwards through history--from pre-Civil War days and the Underground Railroad through the First World War--as readers see Georgina at her birth, at eight, with her little brother's arrival (and a brief look at the injustices of slavery) and so on, through her own marriage, the birth of her first daughter and, finally, facing her own death. This workmanlike tale is frustratingly brief, flitting from one incident to the next with only scant looks at the historic underpinnings of each episode. Fleischman's prose, while fluid as ever, never catches fire the way it did in his recent Saturnalia . Ages 11-up.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From School Library Journal

Grade 6-10-- Fleischman's felicity with words is nowhere more evident than in this story of four generations of Ohioans whose most important events--births and deaths--take place in their home's "borning room." Georgina Caroline Lott, who was born there in 1851, tells the story of her family to a portrait painter who has been hired to capture her image toward the end of her life, in 1918, as her family has done for her grandparents before her. She highlights the most telling scenes from her childhood, which include her discovery of a runaway slave, who helps her mother give birth in the absence of the distant midwife; a deathwatch for her beloved grandfather; the loss of her mother during a subsequent childbirth; the nursing of her two brothers, severly ill with diptheria; and her marriage to the local schoolteacher and the birth of their first child. While Georgina summarizes the events of her later life rather quickly, the power of the narrative is never diminished. Less sophisticated readers may experience initial confusion because of the author's technique of using a flashback to begin the story, but by the emotional conclusion, all is made clear. Fleischman successfully tackles many important themes and once again gifts readers with writing lush with similes, metaphors, and allusions, so subtly woven into the mesh of the narrative that they enrich without distracting. A memorable novel, rich and resonant in familial love and the strength of connection and tradition. --Ellen Fader, Westport Pub . Lib . , CT -
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Paul Fleischman grew up in Santa Monica, California, the son of children's book author Sid Fleischman. Drawing on history, music, art, and theater, his books have often experimented with multiple viewpoints and performance. He received the Newbery Medal in 1989 for JOYFUL NOISE: POEMS FOR TWO VOICES, a Newbery Honor Award for GRAVEN IMAGES, the Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction for BULL RUN, and was a National Book Award finalist for BREAKOUT. He lives on the central coast of California.

For more information, visit paulfleischman.net.

Customer Reviews

3.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Michael J. Mazza HALL OF FAME on December 14, 2001
Format: Mass Market Paperback
"The Borning Room" is a superb historical novel by Paul Fleischman. The title refers to a room in a rural Ohio house where babies are born. The story is told by a first person narrator: Georgina Lott, who is born in 1851. Georgina's story spans from the time of her birth to the era of World War I.
With compassion and insight, Fleishman covers the cycles of life, death, and rebirth in Georgina's family as the decades pass. Through his characters Fleischman explores many important themes and events in American history: the abolitionist movement and the "underground Railroad," the Civil War, women's suffrage, folk medicine, ethnic diversity, and more. Benjamin Franklin's writings emerge as oft-cited texts for Georgina's family.
I was particularly interested by Fleischman's depiction of the increasing religious and spiritual diversity of the U. S. in the late 19th century. Some of his characters are religious nonconformists, or are interested in spiritualism. Fleischman is, I believe, historically accurate here. The 19th century was a time of great religious nonconformity and experimentation in the U.S. To better appreciate this aspect of Fleischman's fictional family portrait, consider the poems of Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson, the essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson, or the spread of new religious movements like Mormonism and Christian Science in the 19th century.
Fleischman writes in a starkly beautiful prose, and has populated Georgina's world with some truly wonderful characters. Georgina herself is a memorable creation. She is, in my opinion, a "soul sister" to many other great female characters in American literature: Zora Neale Hurston's Janie (from "Their Eyes Were Watching God"), Willa Cather's Alexandra (from "O Pioneers!"), and many more. I highly recommend "The Borning Room."
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lynn on July 30, 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This is a story of a young girl, Georgina Caroline Lott, growing up on an Ohio farm in the nineteenth century. The entire book focuses on the events that take place in the family's borning room. A borning room is a room set aside for the miracle of giving birth and for the ill and dying. In the borning room the main character and her family faces events that center around life and death. Georgina deals with life, death, love, womanhood and marriage.

This first person narrative is very captivating and is written with very flowing details and in a style that is easy to read. Readers will empathize with Georgina as she travels through her own life cycle. This book can be enjoyed by all ages and is an excellent read.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on December 29, 2004
Format: School & Library Binding
I've been a high school English teacher for 11 years. This is one of my all-time favorite books. I read it aloud to my sophomore students 10 years ago, and we discussed all the different stages of life. Everything that really matters--life, death, meeting the one you love, and starting a new life--all happen in this one room. This is a really nice book by a very good young adult fiction writer.

I highly recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful A Kid's Review on February 24, 2003
Format: School & Library Binding
The Borning Room is about a woman named Georgina telling about her life. When she was little she struggled with the idea of her mom having another baby after she had her. She thought that you got pregnant by swallowing a water melon seed.
One day Georgia was walking through the woods and stumbled upon an old African American woman named Cora. She was a slave. Back then it was illegal to hide runaway slaves but Georgina didn't care. She took Cora back to her barn and gave her new clothes which she stole from her mother and her sister.
One day when her father was away with her grandfather, her mother went into birth. Georginas mother sent her sister to fetch the doctor who lived far away, leaving Georgina to take care of the mother. For some reason the baby wasn't coming out so Georgina ran out side to get Cora for help. Cora delivered the baby boy safely just as the father , grand father, and sister returned. Georgina felt that she was a big part in having the baby so she took care of it very well. His name was Zeb. Her father and grandfather took Cora safely to the water to go to Canada.
A couple years later, Georgina and Grandfather had a spiritual "church service" in they're back yard. Shortly after that grandfather died. They family was very depressed but tried they're hardest to move on.
Three years later, when the only children left in the house was Georgina and Zeb and they're older sister, Georginas mother had gotten pregnant again. This time they didn't use Mrs. Radtke for the doctor, like they had used every other time. Instead, they used a young doctor who had medicine for labor pain. He made everyone leave the room. This made Georgina angry because she had helped with Zebs birth and she wanted to help with this one too.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on August 15, 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Paul Fleischmann uses a lot of vividly touching imagery and skillful metaphors, but this story lacks most real conflict, or even a truly memorable climax. The result is a story that reminds me of a beautiful painting of a bowl of fruit. It is well done and the artist has talent, but it is not memorable or unusual. It's the kind of book that you read more than once, but not the kind that influences your life and thinking. Georgina's life is ordinary, and so is she, which is comforting in this world but makes her story a bit dull
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