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Brown Girl Dreaming (Newbery Honor Book) Hardcover – Deckle Edge, August 28, 2014

4.8 out of 5 stars 347 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


* “The writer’s passion for stories and storytelling permeates the memoir, explicitly addressed in her early attempts to write books and implicitly conveyed through her sharp images and poignant observations seen through the eyes of a child. Woodson’s ability to listen and glean meaning from what she hears lead to an astute understanding of her surroundings, friends, and family.” — Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

* “Mesmerizing journey through [Woodson’s] early years. . . . Her perspective on the volatile era in which she grew up is thoughtfully expressed in powerfully effective verse. . . . With exquisite metaphorical verse Woodson weaves a patchwork of her life experience . . . that covers readers with a warmth and sensitivity no child should miss. This should be on every library shelf.” — School Library Journal, STARRED REVIEW

* “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.” — Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

* “[Woodson’s] memoir in verse is a marvel, as it turns deeply felt remembrances of Woodson’s preadolescent life into art. . . . Her mother cautions her not to write about her family but, happily, many years later, she has and the result is both elegant and eloquent, a haunting book about memory that is itself altogether memorable. — Booklist, STARRED REVIEW

* “A memoir-in-verse so immediate that readers will feel they are experiencing the author’s childhood right along with her. . . . Most notably of all, perhaps, we trace her development as a nascent writer, from her early, overarching love of stories through her struggles to learn to read through the thrill of her first blank composition book to her realization that ‘words are [her] brilliance.’ The poetry here sings: specific, lyrical, and full of imagery. An extraordinary—indeed brilliant—portrait of a writer as a young girl.” — The Horn Book, STARRED REVIEW

* “The effect of this confiding and rhythmic memoir is cumulative, as casual references blossom into motifs and characters evolve from quick references to main players. . . . Revealing slices of life, redolent in sight, sound, and emotion. . . . Woodson subtly layers her focus, with history and geography the background, family the middle distance, and her younger self the foreground. . . . Eager readers and budding writers will particularly see themselves in the young protagonist and recognize her reveling in the luxury of the library and unfettered delight in words. . . . A story of the ongoing weaving of a family tapestry, the following of an individual thread through a gorgeous larger fabric, with the tacit implication that we’re all traversing such rich landscapes. It will make young readers consider where their own threads are taking them.” — The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, STARRED REVIEW

* “Woodson uses clear, evocative language. . . . A beautifully crafted work.” — Library Media Connection, STARRED REVIEW

About the Author

Jacqueline Woodson (www.jacquelinewoodson.com) is the 2014 National Book Award Winner for her New York Times bestselling memoir BROWN GIRL DREAMING, which was also a recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor Award, the NAACP Image Award and the Sibert Honor Award. Woodson was recently named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation.  She is the author of more than two dozen award-winning books for young adults, middle graders and children; among her many accolades, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a three-time National Book Award finalist, and a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. Her books  include THE OTHER SIDE, EACH KINDNESS, the Caldecott Honor Book COMING ON HOME SOON; the Newbery Honor winners FEATHERS, SHOW WAY, and AFTER TUPAC AND D FOSTER, and MIRACLE'S BOYS which received the LA Times Book Prize and the Coretta Scott King Award and was adapted into a miniseries directed by Spike Lee. Jacqueline is also the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement for her contributions to young adult literature, the winner of the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award, and was the 2013 United States nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.

Product Details

  • Age Range: 10 and up
  • Grade Level: 5 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 990 (What's this?)
  • Series: Newbery Honor Book
  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books; First Edition edition (August 28, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399252517
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399252518
  • Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (347 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Cyrus Webb TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 28, 2014
Format: Hardcover
Less than one day.

That is how long it took me to take the journey with Jacqueline Woodson through her book BROWN GIRL DREAMING---and boy was it worth every moment.

Woodson has a way of telling a story through words that is a true gift. Whether utilzing the simplicity of the Haiku like HOW TO LISTEN (Even the silence * has a story to tell you. * Just listen. Listen) or sharing a narrative about God, Family or Herself, we are able to get snapshots into what helped her become the woman she is today.

There are the clever poems about her identity and wanting an afro as well as the realization of wanting to be a writer and how some might see that as not wanting enough. There are the poems I can definitely connect with about Faith and God and wanting to please Him---and not wanting to leave others that we love behind.

Throughout it all there is hope: something that is not always easy to hold on to when you are going through challenges both inside and outside yourself---but it is definitely necessary if you are going to survive.

Brimming with nostalgia and a real grasp of the power of words, BROWN GIRL DREAMING is the realization of a dream for readers.
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Format: Hardcover
I don't even know why I'm reviewing this, when it is so clear everyone has the same review: this book is BEAUTIFUL. It is deeply personal, yet eloquent. The poetry is succinct, yet paints a vivid picture of each scene. If I could write, I wish it was like this. Woodson is able to communicate her memories in a way that appeals to both kids and adults: it's clear, emotional, and deeply moving. It incorporates national history with personal history in a fascinating way. I love it. I love this book and I want everyone to read it.

On a completely biased standpoint, this era of American history is what I studied in college, so anything about that time is always a favorite of mine. But this...even more so. This is a perfect combination of my love of history and middle-grade books. So it's a winner in my mind.

But on a totally non-biased standpoint, it very well may be the next Newbery. Complex poetry, historical insight, a personal memoir...this book will last through history. This is what our grandkids will be reading in school. I truly think so. Now go. Go and read it. And step into the shoes of an African American girl in the era of change.
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Format: Hardcover
What does a memoir owe its readers? For that matter, what does a fictionalized memoir written with a child audience in mind owe its readers? Kids come into public libraries every day asking for biographies and autobiographies. They’re assigned them with the teacher's intent, one assumes, of placing them in the shoes of those people who found their way, or their voice, or their purpose in life. Maybe there’s a hope that by reading about such people the kids will see that life has purpose. That even the most high and lofty historical celebrity started out small. Yet to my mind, a memoir is of little use to child readers if it doesn’t spend a significant fraction of its time talking about the subject when they themselves were young. To pick up brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is to pick up the world’s best example of precisely how to write a fictionalized memoir. Sharp when it needs to be sharp, funny when it needs to be funny, and a book that can relate to so many other works of children’s literature, Woodson takes her own life and lays it out in such a way that child readers will both relate to it and interpret it through the lens of history itself. It may be history, but this is one character that will give kids the understanding that nothing in life is a given. Sometimes, as hokey as it sounds, it really does come down to your dreams.

Her father wanted to name her “Jack” after himself. Never mind that today, let alone 1963 Columbus, Ohio, you wouldn’t dream of naming a baby girl that way. Maybe her mother writing “Jacqueline” on her birth certificate was one of the hundreds of reasons her parents would eventually split apart. Or maybe it was her mother’s yearning for her childhood home in South Carolina that did it.
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Format: Hardcover
I like Jacqueline Woodson's writing a lot and think she does write well for the target age group, but Brown Girl Dreaming just didn't connect with me so easily as her fiction. There's a lot of interesting dynamics involved including race and politics, religion and the author trying to figure out what she believes in. The emotional punch just wasn't present like I expected it to be. Woodson finds things to write about from a more childlike perspective but there's still the sense that it's an adult looking back. For a novel in verse, it is sometimes a little too heavy on the words when the best moments happen with little. Solid in terms of presenting the quirks of growing up in the times she did and trying to get to the heart of the experience, but I would have a hard time selling this to kids not because they wouldn't get it but because I don't think they'd have the same emotional response as a lot of adults looking at this book.
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Format: Hardcover
Book #82 Read in 2014
brown girl dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (YA)

This book, told in verse, is a telling of Woodson's childhood, time spent in the South with her family, time spent in NYC with her family and the working on her family. Growing up in a time of the civil rights movement, Woodson recounts sitting in the back of the bus, watching the Black Panthers on tv, and feeling different from those around her. Woodson always had a love for words and that was the driving force of her becoming the wonderful author she is today. This was a quick, interesting read.

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