Last weekend I read two books both written in verse, both outstanding. Will one or both of them win any of the coveted YA awards for the year? I hope so.
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson is a autobiography written in verse about the early formative years of Woodson's life. She was born in Ohio but moved with her mother and siblings to Greensboro, North Carolina in the 1960s. She and her siblings lived with her grandparents while her mother looked for work in New York, eventually moving to Brooklyn to be with her. During the time in Greensboro Jacqueline was aware of some of the civil rights activities happening in the area, most specifically the lunch counter sit-ins. Though she was too young to participate in them. She also mentioned episodes of racism directed toward those in her community. Once she moved to Brooklyn, Woodson and her family assimilated into the community and she made best friends with a Latina girl who lived in the same apartment complex. It was while she lived in this neighborhood that she became interested in writing and storytelling, even though she had difficulties with reading and comprehension. It was a thoughtful book and a delight to read.
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander was the second book written in verse I read in a row. This one is story of twin boys whose father played professional basketball when he was younger and now the boys play for their middle school team. Everything seems to be going so well in their lives until one of the twins meets and fall in love with a girl and the boys have a falling out. Later their father has severe health issues which brings the family back together, but will have the reader bringing out the Kleenex.
Some of the poems in this book are considered concrete poems because they are given shape by the placement of the text. These were my favorite poems in the book. The narrator also uses his vocabulary lists and definitions to add depth and meaning to his poems. I just simply loved this book.
We added both of these books to our 2015 Mock Printz list though we worry/wonder if they are more likely to be candidates for the Newbery Award than the Printz Award. Either way both deserve the attention from the award committees and I hope they win something with the awards are announced in February.