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BLUISH by Virginia Hamilton


by Virginia Hamilton

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-590-28879-2
Publisher: Blue Sky/Scholastic

A child coming off chemotherapy wins new friends and acceptance from her class in this short, upbeat tale from Hamilton (Second Cousins, 1998, etc.). At first, Dreenie doesn’t know what to make of the girl, Natalie, who is in a wheelchair and knit cap, and who is called “Bluish” by the fifth graders not because she’s black and Jewish (as Natalie’s mother assumes), but because her skin is translucent. New herself, Dreenie quickly finds the right mix of distance and intimacy to be comfortable around her moody, fragile classmate, and soon others are gathering, too—especially after Natalie presents everyone with a wool cap like hers. Hamilton tells the tale from Dreenie’s point of view, moving back and forth between first and third person, sketching feelings and reactions in quick, vivid strokes: “[Bluish] made me care about what was all so scary, so sad and so hurt with her too. To me she is just Bluish child, Bluish ill serious. Bluish close with us. Someday Bluish just like us./Maybe.” While Natalie’s future remains clouded, the story’s tone is set by the pains, and the pleasures, of the moment: exchanging gifts, banter, friendship, and respect. The three children in Leo and Diane Dillons’ jacket painting are misleadingly grave, but the designs in their knit caps and scarves evoke the author’s poetic, richly textured prose. (Fiction. 9-11)