DEAR HANK WILLIAMS

Tate has gumption, and it's a good thing: She’s the only one who has faith in her ability to sing—except for her little brother, Frog, and everyone seems surprised whenever Tate mentions him.

Tate explains all this and more in her pen-pal letters to Hank Williams. Her teacher has arranged an exchange of letters with Japanese students, but it's too soon after World War II for Tate’s comfort; besides, she and Hank have singing in common. Sassy and observant, Tate also tells him how her parents travel while she lives in a house by a cemetery with her aunt, uncle and Frog. She helps Aunt Patty Cake sell cosmetics—except in Pine Bend where colored folks live, but her aunt won’t explain why this is. Writing proves therapeutic, and Tate begins to revise half-truths: She has no idea where her father is, and Momma is in jail. And Tate almost gives up the idea of the talent contest she’s had her heart set on entering when her new dog, Lovie, goes missing: She’s too sad to sing. It's while searching for Lovie in the cemetery that Tate faces, finally, the lie she's been telling herself about her most sorrowful loss. Real to the period and place, subtle and gently paced, Tate's story is heartbreaking but hopeful; when she sings, Tate remembers the good times.

Soulful and satisfying. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: May 19, 2015

ISBN: 978-0-8050-8022-3

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Christy Ottaviano/Henry Holt

Review Posted Online: Feb. 3, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2015

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For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2014

  • New York Times Bestseller

  • National Book Award Winner

  • Newbery Honor Book

  • Coretta Scott King Book Award Winner

BROWN GIRL DREAMING

A multiaward–winning author recalls her childhood and the joy of becoming a writer.

Writing in free verse, Woodson starts with her 1963 birth in Ohio during the civil rights movement, when America is “a country caught / / between Black and White.” But while evoking names such as Malcolm, Martin, James, Rosa and Ruby, her story is also one of family: her father’s people in Ohio and her mother’s people in South Carolina. Moving south to live with her maternal grandmother, she is in a world of sweet peas and collards, getting her hair straightened and avoiding segregated stores with her grandmother. As the writer inside slowly grows, she listens to family stories and fills her days and evenings as a Jehovah’s Witness, activities that continue after a move to Brooklyn to reunite with her mother. The gift of a composition notebook, the experience of reading John Steptoe’s Stevie and Langston Hughes’ poetry, and seeing letters turn into words and words into thoughts all reinforce her conviction that “[W]ords are my brilliance.” Woodson cherishes her memories and shares them with a graceful lyricism; her lovingly wrought vignettes of country and city streets will linger long after the page is turned.

For every dreaming girl (and boy) with a pencil in hand (or keyboard) and a story to share. (Memoir/poetry. 8-12)

Pub Date: Aug. 28, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-399-25251-8

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Nancy Paulsen Books

Review Posted Online: June 25, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2014

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Remarkable.

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  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2020

  • IndieBound Bestseller

  • Asian/Pacific American Award for Literature Honor Book

PRAIRIE LOTUS

A “half-Chinese and half-white” girl finds her place in a Little House–inspired fictional settler town.

After the death of her Chinese mother, Hanna, an aspiring dressmaker, and her White father seek a fresh start in Dakota Territory. It’s 1880, and they endure challenges similar to those faced by the Ingallses and so many others: dreary travel through unfamiliar lands, the struggle to protect food stores from nature, and the risky uncertainty of establishing a livelihood in a new place. Fans of the Little House books will find many of the small satisfactions of Laura’s stories—the mouthwatering descriptions of victuals, the attention to smart building construction, the glorious details of pleats and poplins—here in abundance. Park brings new depth to these well-trodden tales, though, as she renders visible both the xenophobia of the town’s White residents, which ranges in expression from microaggressions to full-out assault, and Hanna’s fight to overcome it with empathy and dignity. Hanna’s encounters with women of the nearby Ihanktonwan community are a treat; they hint at the whole world beyond a White settler perspective, a world all children deserve to learn about. A deeply personal author’s note about the story’s inspiration may leave readers wishing for additional resources for further study and more clarity about her use of Lakota/Dakota. While the cover art unfortunately evokes none of the richness of the text and instead insinuates insidious stereotypes, readers who sink into the pages behind it will be rewarded.

Remarkable. (Historical fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: March 3, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-328-78150-5

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Clarion Books

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2020

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