Brown Girl Dreaming
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Jacqueline Woodson's National Book Award and Newbery Honor winner, now available in paperback with 6 all new poems.
Raised in South Carolina and New York, Woodson always felt halfway home in each place. In vivid poems, she shares what it was like to grow up as an African American in the 1960s and 1970s, living with the remnants of Jim Crow and her growing awareness of the Civil Rights movement. Touching and powerful, each poem is both accessible and emotionally charged, each line a glimpse into a child’s soul as she searches for her place in the world. Woodson’s eloquent poetry also reflects the joy of finding her voice through writing stories, despite the fact that she struggled with reading as a child. Her love of stories inspired her and stayed with her, creating the first sparks of the gifted writer she was to become.
Praise for Jacqueline Woodson:
Ms. Woodson writes with a sure understanding of the thoughts of young people, offering a poetic, eloquent narrative that is not simply a story . . . but a mature exploration of grown-up issues and self-discovery.”—The New York Times Book Review
Spartanburg and Charleston and all of them talked like our grandparents talked and ate what we ate so they were red dirt and pine trees they were fireflies in jelly jars and lemon-chiffon ice cream cones. They were laughter on hot city nights hot milk on cold city mornings, good food and good times fancy dancing and soul music. They were family. the johnny pump Some days we miss the way the red dirt lifted up and landed against our bare feet. Here the sidewalks burn hot all
hospital, his body weak from the lead, his brain not doing what a brain is supposed to do. We don’t understand why he’s so small, has tubes coming from his arms, sleeps and sleeps . . . when we visit him. But one day, he comes home. The holes in the wall are covered over and left unpainted, his bed pulled away from temptation, nothing for him to peel away. He is four now, curls long gone, his dark brown hair straight as a bone, strange to us but our little brother, the four of us
song. But the summer I am ten, funk is in every single song that comes on the cool black radio stations. So our mother makes us listen to the white ones. All afternoon corny people sing about Colorado, about everything being beautiful about how we’ve only just begun. My sister falls in love with the singers but I sneak off to Maria’s house where safe inside her room with the pink shag carpet and bunk beds, we can comb our dolls’ hair and sing along when the Ohio Players say, He’s
full bellies to think and safe places to gather. She knows the white lady isn’t the only one who’s watching, listening, waiting, to end this fight. So she keeps the marchers’ glasses filled, adds more corn bread and potato salad to their plates, stands in the kitchen ready to slice lemon pound cake into generous pieces. And in the morning, just before she pulls her uniform from the closet, she prays, God, please give me and those people marching another day. Amen. how to listen #2
Read to me, I say, my eyes and scalp already stinging from the tug of the brush through my hair. And while my grandmother sets the hot comb on the flame, heats it just enough to pull my tight curls straighter, my sister’s voice wafts over the kitchen, past the smell of hair and oil and flame, settles like a hand on my shoulder and holds me there. I want silver skates like Hans’s, a place on a desert island. I have never seen the ocean but this, too, I can imagine—blue water