Woods, Brenda (A.)
Woods, Brenda (A.)
ADDRESSES: Agent—c/o Author Mail, G. P. Putnam, 375 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014.
AWARDS, HONORS: Coretta Scott King Narrative Award, 2003, for The Red Rose Box.
The Red Rose Box (young-adult novel), Putnam (New York, NY), 2002.
Emako Blue (young-adult novel), Putnam (New York, NY), 2004.
SIDELIGHTS: Brenda Woods has written two realistic young-adult novels that deal with some of the problems that young African Americans have sometimes faced. The Red Rose Box, her fiction debut tells of two sisters—Ruth, eight years old, and Leah, ten years old—who live in rural Louisiana in the early 1950s. Forced to deal with poverty and the humiliations of racial segregation, the girls are seduced by the freedom and prosperity offered by a wealthy aunt who lives in California, until the loss of their parents in a hurricane teaches the girls the value of family and love. Several reviewers praised Woods' skillful use of dialect and syntax as a means of bringing her characters to life. For example, Gillian Engberg wrote in Booklist, of the author's "language made musical with southern phrases" While Engberg called the parents' tragic deaths "heavily foreshadowed," the reviewer still believed "young readers will connect with Leah and feel her difficult pull between freedom, comfort, and her deeply felt roots." Bruce Anne Shook, in School Library Journal, called The Red Rose Box "a bittersweet story with good descriptions of settings; a skillful use of figurative language; and well-realized, believable characters."
Emako Blue tells the story of a smart and talented African-American teenage girl who is killed as an innocent bystander of a South Los Angeles gang shooting. The story is told in flashbacks in the words of four of the girl's friends, who come from different economic and social backgrounds. Critics praised the book's strong characters and evocative tone. As Diane P. Tuccillo wrote in School Library Journal, "This short, succinct, and poignant story of friendship, family, and overwhelming sadness will leave some readers in tears." Tuccillo also found the characters "well drawn and believable." In Booklist Engberg praised Woods for creating "up-to-the-minute African American voices that … ask honest questions."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, June 1, 2002, Gillian Engberg, review of The Red Rose Box, p. 1726; July, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of Emako Blue, p. 1838.
Horn Book, September-October, 2004, Christine M. Heppermann, review of Emako Blue, p. 601.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 2002, review of The Red Rose Box, p. 582; June 1, 2004, review of Emako Blue, p. 543.
Kliatt, July, 2004, Claire Rosser, review of Emako Blue, p. 14.
Publishers Weekly, May 20, 2002, review of The Red Rose Box, p. 66.
School Library Journal, June, 2002, Bruce Anne Shook, review of The Red Rose Box, p. 149; July, 2004, Diane P. Tuccillo, review of Emako Blue, p. 114.