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Feathers Hardcover – March 1, 2007


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 9 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 4 - 7
  • Hardcover: 118 pages
  • Publisher: Putnam Juvenile; First Edition edition (March 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0399239898
  • ISBN-13: 978-0399239892
  • Product Dimensions: 8.4 x 5.8 x 0.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #513,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Looking forward" is the message that runs through Woodson's (The House You Pass on the Way) novel. Narrator Frannie is fascinated with Emily Dickinson's poem, "Hope is the thing with feathers/ that perches in the soul," and grapples with its meaning, especially after a white student joins Frannie's all-black sixth-grade classroom. Trevor, the classroom bully, promptly nicknames him "Jesus Boy," because he is "pale and his hair [is] long." Frannie's best friend, Samantha, a preacher's daughter, starts to believe that the new boy truly could be Jesus ("If there was a world for Jesus to need to walk back into, wouldn't this one be it?"). The Jesus Boy's sense of calm and its effect on her classmates make Frannie wonder if there is some truth to Samantha'a musings, but a climactic faceoff between him and Trevor bring the newcomer's human flaws to light. Frannie's keen perceptions allow readers to observe a ripple of changes. Because she has experienced so much sadness in her life (her brother's deafness, her mother's miscarriages) the heroine is able to see beyond it all—to look forward to a time when the pain subsides and life continues. Set in 1971, Woodson's novel skillfully weaves in the music and events surrounding the rising opposition to the Vietnam War, giving this gentle, timeless story depth. She raises important questions about God, racial segregation and issues surrounding the hearing-impaired with a light and thoughtful touch. Ages 8-up.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 4–7—"Stepped through that door white and softly as the snow," notes sixth-grader Frannie, on the arrival of a pale, long-haired boy to her predominantly black middle school on a winter day in 1971. He is dubbed the Jesus Boy by the class rowdy, and the name seems to suit the newcomer's appearance and calm demeanor. Frannie is confused, not only by declarations that he's NOT white, but that her friend Samantha, daughter of a conservative Baptist minister, also seems to believe that he is Jesus. In light of this and other surprises in her life, Frannie questions her own faith and, most of all, the meaning of the Emily Dickinson poem that she is studying in class, "Hope is a thing with feathers/that perches in the soul/…." How does she maintain hope when her newly pregnant mother has lost three babies already? She also worries about her deaf older brother, Sean, who longs to be accepted in the hearing world. She sees the anger in the bully intensify as he targets Jesus Boy. With her usual talent for creating characters who confront, reflect, and grow into their own persons, Woodson creates in Frannie a strong protagonist who thinks for herself and recognizes the value and meaning of family. The story ends with hope and thoughtfulness while speaking to those adolescents who struggle with race, faith, and prejudice. They will appreciate its wisdom and positive connections.—D. Maria LaRocco, Cuyahoga Public Library, Strongsville, OH
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

More About the Author

Jacqueline Woodson's awards include 3 Newbery Honors, a Coretta Scott King Award and 3 Coretta Scott King Honors, 2 National Book Awards, a Margaret A. Edwards Award and an ALAN Award -- both for Lifetime Achievement in YA Literature. She is the author of more than 2 dozen books for children and young adults and lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York

Customer Reviews

This novel is a realistic view into the heart of its characters.
S. Tapp
I can honestly say that this is one of the best books in this genre that I've ever read.
Whatcha Reading Now?
I read this book prior to my 10 year old daughter reading it and I LOVED it.
Avid_Reader

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Kemie Nix on June 1, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In January of 1971, eleven-year-old Frannie lives contentedly with her parents and deaf older brother, Sean, in an apartment on the "wrong" side of the highway. "There weren't white people on this side of the highway.

You didn't notice until one appeared. And then you saw all the brown and light brown everywhere." Suddenly, a tall, skinny white boy with long hair appears in Frannie's sixth-grade class. His classmates decide that he looks like the pictures of Jesus and start calling him the "Jesus Boy." Frannie's best friend Samantha, whose father is a "fire-and brimstone" preacher according to Frannie's mother, seems especially

taken with the "Jesus Boy, " and begins to fantasize that he might be Jesus returned to earth. While the "Jesus Boy" must stand up to enormous bullying from his male classmates, which Frannie deplores, she

becomes quite interested in him and is mystified that he knows how to "sign," which is how she communicates with her beloved brother.

In this excellent, slice-of life story, the author explores, through Frannie's eyes, many facets of growing up.The likable Frannie learns to deal with religious ideas, racism, the meaning of friendship, familial love, and plain old - but never simple - milk of human kindness.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Janet Gingold on June 16, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Feathers--fine strands intricately connected to make something soft and beautiful, shimmering and uplifting. The musical language and the deliciously real detail would be enough, but the soul of this story is Frannie. She's not smart or pretty or graceful. She's not particularly poetic. She's certainly not religious. But she's good. She looks past what's peculiar and prickly to find those basic human connections that help her to do the right thing. Thanks, Jacqueline Woodson, for introducing us to Frannie and that Jesus Boy. In them we can all find hope. Readers who like Feathers might also like Danger, Long Division, in which another good kid, age 11, develops new perspectives on mean kids, friendship and family.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Kelly H on August 11, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I finished this yesterday morning--about 36 hours ago--and I've been thinking about it off and on since then. That's rare for me. Usually, I finish one book, then move right on to the next. But this beautiful novel stuck with me.

Frannie is a girl who's lost hope--she lives on the poor side of the highway, she's seen her mama suffer through miscarriages and now she's pregnant again, and she sees the way girls treat her brother when they find out he's deaf. Frannie's teacher reads an Emily Dickinson poem that starts "Hope is the thing with feathers..." to her class, which gets Frannie thinking about hope. Then a boy who looks like Jesus shows up as the new kid at school, and Frannie is forced to grapple with her own understanding of hope, faith, and religion. One of my favorite aspects of the story is how Frannie explores the idea of spirituality versus religion.

This would be a great book to read with your child because of all the interesting conversations you could have about the characters and what they go through.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Stacey L. Joy on February 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover
My 4th grade class was completely riveted each day that I read this novel to them. I decided to use it as the Beginning of the Year Read Aloud and I am so happy that I did. It was inspiring and my students could totally relate to the characters. I personally think it is one of my favorite children's novels and it's very heartwarming to see that it has more rave reviews than negative reviews!! I think it's all about who reads it, how it's read, and what you interpret. Jacqueline Woodson is by far not writing on a one dimensional level. We have to teach our students to read beneath the surface and really dissect literature to get at the real meanings and goals the writer has. This was quite enjoyable for all of us!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Book 'Em! Blog on June 30, 2011
Format: Paperback
An interesting look at the life of a 6th grader in 1971. Frannie is looking for hope in the world, from her family, her friends, her school.

The one thing I found intriguing about the book was looking into the window of an all black school welcoming in a white student. Usually literature is written the other way around, and it was intriguing to see the similarities to the situation.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Avid_Reader on May 23, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I read this book prior to my 10 year old daughter reading it and I LOVED it. I actually read it 3 times in 2 days then spent the next two weeks reading it to my daughter at bedtime. That was 4 years ago and we still talk about it regularly.

There were so many great life lessons in this book. I especially loved it when her grandmother told Frannie, "you be the one..." We've adopted that mentality in our family and I always encourage my three children to, "be the one" that steps up and steps in when someone needs it.

My other favorite part is when her dad is talking to Frannie about the pregnancy and that he'd rather have a few months of happy than none at all. Wow - that part really put some things in perspective for me.

This book goes down as one of my top 3 books of all time - the others are To Kill a Mockingbird and The Secret Garden.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Alison F. Solove on June 20, 2011
Format: Paperback
When her sixth-grade class reads Emily Dickenson's poem, "Hope Is a Thing with Feathers," Frannie isn't sure she understands the metaphor. After all, living on the wrong side of the tracks, grieving for the babies her mother has miscarried, and coping with her brother's deafness all mean Frannie doesn't have a lot of room for hope in her life. She doesn't like to go to church and thinks her best friend is crazy for some of the cheerful things she believes. But now her mother is expecting again and Frannie has to come to grips with her fear--and the reality that sometimes things turn out okay after all.

Woodson's books sometimes force readers to bite off a bit more than they're ready to chew, but not this time. Feathers is a simple, beautiful story about looking for God in the unlikeliest of places--and learning the value of hope. It was a Newbery Honor Book in 2008.
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