Tuesday, October 26, 2010


By Jacqueline Woodson
5/5 *****
6th grade and up

This book was such a quick read, and involved so many different discussion topics and controversies.  Frannie, the main character, is such a passionate and relatable character, she is sure to draw readers into her story.  Frannie lives in a segregated town, although the story takes place in the 1970s.  A new (white) student comes to her all-black school in 6th grade, and the book is about how he adjusts and how Frannie befriends him and many other issues arise. 

This book could be used to relate or introduce many topics, including but not limited to: segregation, racism, religion (Christianity), bullying, adoption, accepting each other’s differences, poverty, disabilities and many others.   The new student is called Jesus, because he is skinny, white and has long, curly brown hair.  Throughout the story, there are numerous references to Christianity, and I think that is one of the main reasons why this book could be slightly controversial for an elementary classroom.  Another reason, is the blatant racism, references to poverty and bullying/stereotyping situations that occur throughout the story.  Frannie’s older brother is deaf and communicates via sign language; Frannie’s mother has gone through multiple miscarriages/infant deaths.  Both of these introduce new issues that students might ask questions about, and could possibly be controversial or uncomfortable to discuss.
However, because the book has such a caring and passionate main character, an emphasis on positive family and friend relationships, and a goal to find hope and faith in life, I think that overall the positive things students can get out of this book are definitely worth discussing the possibly controversial topics the book introduces.  If I had the chance to teach this book to upper elementary students I definitely would, although I would make sure to thoroughly discuss all of the topics and make sure the students all feel comfortable about what the book is saying.

One thing that would definitely be worth discussing in terms of literary devices, besides the themes discussed previously, is the metaphor mentioned in the title.  In the beginning of the book, Frannie reads, “Hope is the thing with feathers” and continues to search for this elusive “hope” throughout the book.  She takes it literally at first, but her brother explains to her that it is a metaphor.  This would be a great example that upper elementary students would likely understand, to introduce metaphors and then move into other a discussion of other related literary devices.  

1 comment:

  1. This Woodson novel seems very interesting! I would love to read it and see how it compares to Locomotion. I think Woodson is a wonderful author.