Saturday, January 30, 2010

Feathers

I didn't think I liked Feathers, but what do you know, I recommended it before the end of the day today. I've never read any Jacqueline Woodson novels before and randomly added this to our amazon wishlist based on the cover. I breezed through the book in an afternoon, puzzling over the different aspects of the story.

The author said she wrote the book to tell about the different ways people find hope (the title is a reference to the Emily Dickinson poem, Hope is the thing with feathers). The Bahamas is a religious country and Feathers showcases a character for whom the church gives hope. This will make my students and their parents happy. I really enjoyed the relationship between Frannie, the protagonist, and her older brother, Sean. Their relationship was realistic in its frustrations and its small joys.

I thought it was interesting that the story was set in 1971. This is not a time period that grabs middle grade readers; the only importance is that there is an added element of racial unrest in the story. I don't think the time period adds anything to the story, rather I think that slang like "jive" and "cat" may turn off readers.

Still, I was able to recommend the book to a sweet seventh grader who is a little lost right now and could use a sweet, optimistic story about hope. It always helps to have a book fitting that description in the wings (pun totally intended).

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