('J-Fic' is my cheesy abbreviation for Juvenille Fiction, geared towards ages 4-7)
Feathers - Jacqueline Woodson
This itty little novel (only 208 pages) from Jacqueline Woodson is one of the strongest books I've read in the past few months, and that includes adult fiction. The voice is Frannie's, a sixth grader in the 1970's (I'm highly suspicious the voice is very similar to Ms. Woodson's at that age and era) and her pure sense of humor and candor is refreshing in an age of syrupy Hannah Montanas. Frannie and her family are extremely tight-knit - - which you unfortunately do not often see in a lot of fiction geared towards this age group nowadays. Her brother Sean is handsome, lyrical, and deaf; her mother, wise and beautiful (and a bit haunting); her father strong and supportive, even during his brief absences as a moving truck driver. A ghostly-spirit of a new-boy arrives in Frannie's class, and she finds herself hoping he's something more than the rest of them, something holy and new, from the beginning the seemingly Caucasian boy is dubbed Jesus Boy. To Frannie's surprise, he knows sign language, a connection that surprises and confuses her. I'm not going to give away too much plot, because this is a sweet little novel that I would love to see many people (adults!) read. Since it is so brief, a quick reading adult could sit down and read it in an hour or two.
What I'm taking away from this novel: Hope (the Dickinson quote "Hope is the thing with feathers..." is the theme and inspiration for the title of the novel...), a new voice in Woodson's Frannie and Sean, such inspired souls at a young age...and strong imagery that will last me longer than it took to read this little shiny feather of a book.
Read it. It's cute, you'll laugh, and be calmed by Woodson's thoughtful, quiet voice. Look for the link on the right to purchase, or check your local library.