- Age Range: 10 and up
- Grade Level: 5 - 6
- Lexile Measure: 0630 (What's this?)
- Hardcover: 192 pages
- Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books (August 28, 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0399252525
- ISBN-13: 978-0399252525
- Product Dimensions: 5.9 x 0.7 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 25 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,312 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Harbor Me Hardcover – August 28, 2018
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From the Publisher
* “Woodson celebrates all that is essential and good for humanity—compassion, understanding, security, and freedom—in this touching novel. . . . Woodson’s skills as poet and master storyteller shine brightly here as she economically uses language to express emotion and delve into the hearts of her characters. Showing how America’s political and social issues affect children on a daily basis, this novel will leave an indelible mark on readers’ minds.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review
* “Woodson delivers a powerful tale of community and mutual growth. The bond they develop is palpable. . . . The characters ring true as they discuss issues both personal and global. This story, told with exquisite language and clarity of narrative, is both heartbreaking and hopeful. An extraordinary and timely piece of writing.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
* “The magic is in the writing. Woodson tells stories torn from headlines but personalizes them with poetry and memories, blunting their trauma with understanding and love. Haley’s history weaves in and out, drawing readers close. These children become each other's safe harbors and Woodson brilliantly shows readers how to find the connections we all need.”—Booklist, starred review
* “Woodson’s spare, lyrical, and evocative prose carries the story seamlessly, weaving in themes of justice and family, friendship and courage. This is a timely and beautifully written story that should be on library shelves everywhere.”—School Library Journal, starred review
* "In her first middle-grade novel since her 2014 National Book Award winner, Brown Girl Dreaming, National Ambassador for Young People's Literature Jacqueline Woodson deftly alchemizes a sixth-grade classroom into an affecting metaphor for racial, political and socioeconomic challenges—enhanced by the transformative power of storytelling: ‘what matter[ed] most is that we were heard.’ . . . A powerful love letter to effective teachers, unexpected friendship and the healing magic of hearing, recording and sharing words.”—Shelf Awareness, starred review
“Explore[s] deep issues of identity, community, family, change, and forgiveness. The power of remembrance is also an important theme. . . . Will speak to young people’s insecurities and fears while recognizing their courage in facing them, and [Woodson's] craft as a weaver of words and imagery is evident on every page. A timely tribute to the resilience of young people and to the power of human connection that often overrides our differences.”—Horn Book
"Leaves readers of all ages asking, 'would I let myself be a harbor for someone who needs it?'”—School Library Connection
About the Author
Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. She received the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award and the 2018 Children's Literature Legacy Award, and 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, the NAACP Image Award and a Sibert Honor. In 2015, Woodson was named the Young People's Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. Her recent adult book, Another Brooklyn, was a National Book Award finalist. 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 four-time National Book Award finalist, and a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. Her books include The Other Side, Each Kindness, Caldecott Honor book Coming On Home Soon; 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. Jacqueline is also the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement for her contributions to young adult literature and the winner of the Jane Addams Children's Book Award. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.
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It starts with six kids meeting in a classroom at their teacher's insistence to talk. No adults and no off limit topics so long as it's done with respect. They barely know one another, but as they begin to see the ARTT room as a safe place, they begin to talk about what's bothering them. The loss- both temporary and permanent- of a loved one, deportation, racial profiling, bullying and change in financial station. As they begin to trust one another, to lean on one another, they find a safe harbor in the storm of life.
Ms. Laverne had said once that they needed to ask themselves a question:
'If the worst thing in the world happened, would I help protect someone else? Would I let myself be a harbor for someone who needs it?' Heavy thoughts for a fifth grader.... but these aren't just any kids. Each one has been shaped by hardship of some sort, each one is strong enough to shoulder burdens that would bury others. This is their story.
I will be buying this book- most likely several copies for loved ones. It's hard hitting, painful and poignantly beautiful. I loved these characters so, so much. Haley especially. With her mother dead and her father in jail, her uncle is the only parent she has ever really known... so what happens with her father comes home and everything changes? How do you even talk to someone that has been away for that long- especially when you can't comprehend what he went through? Estaban, keeper of his father's poetry, was captivating. Amari, who wants so badly to be a man- or at least a tough kid- having to come to terms with things he can no longer do even though his best friend can- all because his father wants to keep him alive. Tiago, who has to watch his mother shink time and again every time she's told to go back to their own country- all for speaking Spanish. It isn't even that they can't speak English, but that the language is ingrained into their Puerto Rican heritage... it's part of who they are. All of these kids, and the things that they face, could be any one. It reminded me that we don't know people's story... it's so easy to judge someone, you know? And it's an ugly, ugly thing. But here, these six learned to talk about their issues, and help one another through them. I loved that. I loved that it showed another path- not being scared, angry, hurtful... but harboring one another. Taking their pain. Helping them move forward. It was beautiful.
I mean, the writing got a bit choppy from time to time. Everything is seen through Haley's eyes and emotions, so that will happen. For the most part, though, it was well written and engaging. It oddly felt far too short, and yet there was so much more here than I would have imagined a novella capable of. I highly recommend this book for readers of all ages. Five stars!
Six kids of varied backgrounds are put in a room together one day each week. Why their teacher does this is never properly explained, and how they manage to begin relating to each other so quickly defies belief. Perhaps if I were still an intermediate reader these aspects wouldn't bother me as much, but as an adult reader they made it a touch difficult for me to get into the narrative. In the end, though, those complaints don't matter much because the stories come together to form something beautiful--something my cold, adult heart can't deny.
I don't know that Harbor Me is going to reach anyone who needs to learn its lessons the most. It seems far more likely that its audience will already be receptive to its message, leaving it preaching to the choir. But if it reaches enough young kids and makes them more open to empathy for others in the future, then it will all be worth it.
Narrated by twelve year old Haley McGrath, she and her five classmates gather together once a week to talk freely to one another without adult supervision. Their conversations are surprisingly deep as they delve into the realities they each face due to their life experiences. Haley is bi-racial and currently being raised by her white uncle and she is apprehensive about the upcoming changes in her life. Her best friend Holly finds it impossible to sit still and she often blurts out her uncensored thoughts. Tiago is the son of Puerto Rican immigrants and he is troubled by the hateful rhetoric he and his mother encounter while conversing in Spanish in public. Amari recounts a recent discussion with his father which highlights the dangers African American’s face even during innocent play. Ashton is the only Caucasian in the group which leads his fellow classmates to mistakenly believe this affords him protection from any type of hardship or adversity. Young Esteban is a going through a heartrending experience that no one should ever have to endure.
With frank honesty and surprising insight, Harbor Me touches on relevant social issues through the eyes of these six pre-teens. Through these weekly discussions, Jacqueline Woodson highlights the fact that political and racial issues affect children just as much they do adults. Their stories are captivating and their compassionate and perceptive reactions to one anothers’ plights offer hope for the future of our country. I highly recommend this timely novel which features an engrossing and thought-provoking storyline.
I received a complimentary copy for review.