Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Woodson Experience

Jacqueline Woodson
        I have never really read several books by the same author in a way that we did in this class.  I really enjoyed reading Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson and I was surprised to find such common themes threaded throughout a lot of her books and the specific connections that we were able to see between Locomotion and Miracle’s Boys.  Just starting at the title, the word locomotion and miracle are usually not referring to the names of people, but in both of these books they are.  The term “never judge a book by its cover” really hold true, especially relating to the title.  A lot of the driving factors of each of the plots were similar as well.  In both books, siblings are separated for an extended period of time- in Locomotion, Lonnie and his sister and separated by being put in two different foster homes and in Miracle’s Boys, the siblings are separated when one of them ends up going to jail.  The distance between family is described and stressed and it juxtaposes the ordinary “close bonds” of family that authors usually describe or rely on the reader relating to. 
        The other themes, like death and sadness were both described in the books as well as all the Woodson books discussed in class.  In Locomotion, Lonnie’s parents are both killed in a fire, a life event that he repeatedly refers to in various ways with diverse emotions ranging from sadness to guilt to remorse.  The sadness and emptiness that Lonnie feels in his life- the lack of his sister and parents is also demonstrated across all of Woodson’s books.  These emotions were described from the perspective of a child, so it makes it more accessible for elementary students to read and connect to. 
        I got a lot out of reading Jacqueline Woodson’s book and I found it interesting how much overlapping there was among all the books, with common themes.  The urban setting and the sense of family tragedy ran through all of her books, so it made finding a set of books simple for students who can relate to this theme.  Also, the main character in the books was mainly African-American.  Their Caucasian counterparts, especially in children’s books, outnumber this group of narrators.  Jacqueline Woodson does a fantastic job making her writing easily understood to readers while still discussing very complex and deep themes and ideas, which is ideal for upper elementary grades. 

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