Woodson, Jacqueline 1964-
Woodson, Jacqueline 1964-
Born February 12, 1964, in Columbus, OH; daughter of Jack and Mary Ann Woodson; children; Toshi (daughter). Education: Adelphi University, B.A. (English), 1985; studied creative writing at New School for Social Research (now New School University).
Home and office—Brooklyn, NY. E-mail—[email protected]newoodson.com.
Author. Goddard College, associate faculty member in M.F.A. Writing Program, 1993-95; Eugene Lang College, associate faculty member, 1994; Vermont College, associate faculty member in M.F.A. program, 1996. Writer-in-residence, National Book Foundation, 1995, 1996. Has also worked as an editorial assistant and as a drama therapist for runaway children in New York, NY.
MacDowell Colony fellowship, 1990 and 1994; Provincetown, MA, Fine Arts Work Center fellow, 1991-92; Kenyon Review Award for Literary Excellence in Fiction, 1992, 1995; Best Books for Young Adults designation, American Library Association (ALA), 1993, for Maizon at Blue Hill; Jane Addams Children's Book Award, 1995, 1996; Coretta Scott King Honor Book designation, ALA, 1995, for I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This, and 1996, for From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun; Granta Fifty Best American Authors under Forty citation, 1996; Lambda Literary Award for best fiction
and best children's fiction, 1996; Lambda Literary Award for Children/Young Adult, 1998, for The House You Pass on the Way; ALA Best Book designation; American Film Institute award; Los Angeles Times Book Award for young-adult fiction, and Coretta Scott King Book Award, both 2001, both for Miracle's Boys; National Book Award nominee in young people's literature category, Bank Street College Best Children's Book designation, and Top-Ten Black History Books for Youth listee, Booklist, all 2002, all for Hush; Top Ten Black History Books for Youth list, 2002, for The Other Side; National Book Award finalist, Coretta Scott King Honor Book designation, and Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for Fiction, all 2003, and IRA/CBC Children's Choice designation, 2004, all for Locomotion; ALA Notable Book designation, 2004, for Coming on Home Soon; Newbery Honor Medal, 2005, for Show Way, and 2007, for Feathers; Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement, ALA, 2006.
Martin Luther King, Jr. and His Birthday, (nonfiction), illustrated by Floyd Cooper, Silver Burdett (Parsippany, NJ), 1990.
We Had a Picnic This Sunday Past, illustrated by Diane Greenseid, Hyperion (New York, NY), 1997.
Sweet, Sweet Memory, illustrated by Floyd Cooper, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2000.
The Other Side, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, Putnam (New York, NY), 2001.
Visiting Day, illustrated by James Ransome, Scholastic, Inc. (New York, NY), 2002.
Our Gracie Aunt, illustrated by Jon J. Muth, Hyperion (New York, NY), 2002.
Coming on Home Soon, illustrated by E.B. Lewis, Putnam (New York, NY), 2004.
Show Way, illustrated by Hudson Talbott, Putnam (New York, NY), 2005.
FICTION; FOR YOUNG ADULTS
Last Summer with Maizon (first book in trilogy), Delacorte (New York, NY), 1990.
The Dear One, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1991.
Maizon at Blue Hill (second book in trilogy), Delacorte (New York, NY), 1992.
Between Madison and Palmetto (third book in trilogy), Delacorte (New York, NY), 1993.
Book Chase ("Ghostwriter" series), illustrated by Steve Cieslawski, Bantam (New York, NY), 1994.
I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1994.
From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun, Scholastic, (New York, NY), 1995.
The House You Pass on the Way, Delacorte (New York, NY), 1997.
If You Come Softly, Putnam (New York, NY), 1998.
Lena (sequel to I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This), Delacorte (New York, NY), 1998.
Miracle's Boys, Putnam (New York, NY), 2000.
Hush, Putnam (New York, NY), 2002.
Locomotion, Putnam (New York, NY), 2003.
Behind You, Putnam (New York, NY), 2004.
Feathers, Putnam (New York, NY), 2007.
After Tupac and D Foster, Putnam (New York, NY), 2008.
Peace, Locomotion, Putnam (New York, NY), 2009.
(With Catherine Saalfield) Among Good Christian Peoples (video), A Cold Hard Dis', 1991.
Autobiography of a Family Photo (novel), New American Library/Dutton (New York, NY), 1994.
(Editor) A Way Out of No Way: Writing about Growing up Black in America (short stories), Holt (New York, NY), 1996.
(Editor, with Norma Fox Mazer) Just a Writer's Thing: A Collection of Prose and Poetry from the National Book Foundation's 1995 Summer Writing Camp, National Book Foundation (New York, NY), 1996.
Contributor to anthologies Am I Blue?, edited by Marion Dane Bauer, HarperTrophy (New York, NY), 1994; Just a Writer's Thing: A Collection of Prose and Poetryfrom the National Book Foundation's 1995 Summer Writing Camp, edited by Norma F. Mazer, National Book Foundation (New York, NY), 1996; Girls Got Game, edited by Sue Macy, Holt (New York, NY), 2001; and Sixteen: Stories about That Sweet and Bitter Birthday, edited by Megan McCafferty, Three Rivers Press, 2004. Also contributor to periodicals, including American Voice, American Identities, Common Lives Quarterly, Conditions, Essence, Horn Book, Kenyon Review and Out/Look. Member of editorial board, Portable Lower East Side/Queer City.
Many of Woodson's novels have been adapted for audiocassette, including I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This, Recorded Books, 1999; Lena, Recorded Books, 1999; Miracle's Boys, Listening Library, 2001; and Locomotion, Recorded Books, 2003.
The recipient of some of the top honors accorded to authors of books for younger readers, Jacqueline Woodson writes about "invisible" people: young girls, minorities, homosexuals, the poor, all the individuals who, many feel, are ignored or forgotten in mainstream America. An African American and lesbian, Woodson knows first hand what it is like to be labeled, classified, stereotyped, and pushed aside. Nevertheless, in award-winning novels such as I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This, Locomotion, Hush, and After Tupac and D Foster, Woodson does not intend to champion the rights of minorities and the oppressed. Rather, her stories celebrates people's differences. Her characters are not so much striving to have their rights acknowledged as they are struggling to find their own individuality, their own value as people. "I feel compelled to write against stereotypes," noted Woodson, "hoping people will see that some issues know no color, class, sexuality. No—I don't feel as though I have a commitment to one community—I don't want to be shackled this way. I write from the very depths of who I am, and in this place there are all of my identities." Woodson's "spare prose is like poetry," concluded Kliatt contributor Claire Rosser in her laudatory review of After Tupac and D Foster, "with a rhythm that reflects the speech patterns of the African American community."
Woodson ability to identify with outsiders may be grounded in her childhood. During her adolescent years, she moved back and forth between South Carolina and New York City, and "never quite felt a part of either place," according to a Ms. article by Diane R. Paylor. Woodson began to feel "outside of the world," as she explained in Horn Book, even before her teen years. A turning point came when Richard Nixon resigned the U.S. presidency in 1974 and Gerald Ford took his place, a place she thought should have been occupied by defeated Democratic presidential candidate George McGovern. "McGovern was my first ‘American Dream.’ Everyone in my neighborhood had been pulling for him." When Ford stepped into the Oval Office, Woodson felt that she and all of black America had been abandoned. "The word democracy no longer existed for me. I began to challenge teachers, and when they couldn't give me the answers I wanted, I became sullen, a loner. I would spend hours sitting underneath the porch, writing poetry and anti-American songs."
Writing soon became Woodson's passion. In the fifth grade, she was literary editor of her school's magazine. "I used to write on everything," she commented for the Bantam Doubleday Dell Web site. "It was the thing I liked to do the most. I never thought I could have a career as a writer—I always thought it was something I would have to do on the side." Her seventh-grade English teacher encouraged Woodson to write and convinced her that she should pursue whatever career she felt would make her happiest. Deciding that writing was, indeed, what she wanted to do, Woodson endeavored "to write about communities that were familiar to me and people that were familiar to me. I wanted to write about communities of color. I wanted to write about girls. I wanted to write about friendship and all of
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these things that I felt like were missing in a lot of the books that I read as a child."
Woodson's first published book, Last Summer with Maizon, begins a trilogy about friends Margaret and Maizon. Set in the author's hometown of Brooklyn, the story tells of two eleven year olds who are the closest of friends. Their friendship is strained, however, when Margaret's father dies of a heart attack and Maizon goes to boarding school on a scholarship. While her friend is away, Margaret, who is the quieter of the two, discovers that she has a talent for writing. She also finds comfort in her family, who support her in her attempt to deal with her father's death. Maizon, meanwhile, finds that she does not like the almost all-white Connecticut boarding school and returns home after only three months. Glad to be with her loved ones again, Maizon, along with Margaret, goes to a gifted school in her own neighborhood.
Critics praised Last Summer with Maizon for its touching portrayal of two close friends and for its convincing sense of place. Julie Blaisdale, writing in School Librarian, also lauded the work for its "positive female characters … who provide the enduring sense of place and spiritual belonging" in the tale. Roger Sutton, writing in Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, questioned Margaret's choice to ease her sadness by writing poetry, but concluded that the novel "will appeal to readers who want a ‘book about friends.’" Similarly, Horn Book critic Rudine Sims Bishop commented on the story's "blurred focus," but asserted that Last Summer with Maizon "is appealing in its vivid portrayal of the characters and the small community they create."
Woodson continues Margaret and Maizon's stories with Maizon at Blue Hill and Between Madison and Palmetto. The former is not really a sequel but, rather, an "equal" to the first book in the trilogy and focuses on what happens to Maizon during her months at the Connecticut boarding school. An intelligent preteen, she likes the academic side of Blue Hill, but she is worried about fitting in socially. Most of the other girls are white and are either snobbish or, at least, not eager to be her friend. Although she is welcomed by a small clique of other black students, Maizon sees this group as rather elitist, too. She decides to return to Brooklyn, where she can comfortably just be herself. An American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults, Maizon at Blue Hill was acclaimed for its strong and appealing characters. "More sharply written than its predecessor, this novel contains some acute characterization," remarked Sutton in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books. Noting that the issues about self-esteem and identity that are addressed in the story spring appropriately from the characters rather than vice versa, Voice of Youth Advocates contributor Alice F. Stern asserted: "We are in the hands of a skilled writer here…. Woodson is a real find."
The last book in the trilogy, Between Madison and Palmetto, picks up where the first book leaves off, with
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Maizon and Margaret entering eighth grade at the academy. Again, Woodson covers a lot of ground in just over one hundred pages, including Margaret's bout with bulimia, issues of integration as the two girls' neighborhood begins to change and white families move in, and the testing of Margaret and Maizon's friendship as Maizon spends more time with another girl named Carolyn. A Publishers Weekly reviewer applauded Woodson's gift for characterization, but noted that the effect is "somewhat diluted by the movie-of-the-week problems" that factor in the storyline. Stern acknowledged that Woodson has "a lot of ground to cover," but noted that "she manages admirably," and a Kirkus Reviews critic described Between Madison and Palmetto as a fine portrayal of a "close-knit community … [that] comes nicely to life."
The central character of The Dear One is twelve-year-old Feni, whose name means "The Dear One" in Swahili. Feni lives in an upper-class African-American home and basks in her family's attention. This all changes, however, when fifteen-year-old Rebecca is invited by Feni's mother to stay with them. Rebecca, the daughter of an old college friend, is a troubled, pregnant teenager from Harlem. Although Feni becomes jealous because she is no longer the center of attention, "gradually and believably, with the patient support of Feni's mother and a lesbian couple who are longstanding family friends, the two girls begin to develop mutual trust and, finally, a redemptive friendship," related Twentieth-Century Children's Writers contributor Michael Cart.
The Dear One is unique in that it deals with tensions not between blacks and whites but between poor and wealthy blacks. Woodson gives a sympathetic portrayal of Rebecca, who is uncomfortable living in what she considers to be a mansion, and who is also reluctant to change her lifestyle. She misses her boyfriend and her family in Harlem; she envies Feni and resents the privileges Feni has been given. The novel also offers a fresh perspective on adult relationships. For example, Marion
and Bernadette, the lesbian couple, provide Feni with wise advice to add to the support she receives from her mother. As Hazel S. Moore noted in Voice of Youth Advocates, "the lesbian couple seems to be intact, while the straight couples have divorced and suffered."
Woodson has never backed away from portraying her perspectives about life in modern American society. She has written her "good" books about friendship and family that deal with safe, acceptable topics, but she clearly does not shy away from controversial subjects like homosexuality and sexual abuse. Woodson asserts that she is not trying to force any kind of ideology on her readers, but rather is interested in all kinds of people, especially the socially rejected. "One of the most important ideas I want to get across to my readers," she emphasized, "is the idea of feeling like you're okay with who you are."
Taking things a step further than The Dear One, I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This explores a relationship that spans both race and class when Marie, a girl from a well-to-do black family, befriends Lena, whom Marie's father considers to be "white trash." Both girls have problems: Marie's mother has abandoned her family, and Lena is the victim of her father's sexual molestations. Told from Marie's point of view, the book details the twelve year old's internal conflicts as she attempts to help her friend. In the end, Lena runs away from home, and Marie must accept the fact that there is nothing she can do to avert this tragic outcome. "Woodson's refusal to impose a facile resolution on this heartbreaking dilemma is one of her singular strengths as a writer," concluded Cart. I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This "is wrenchingly honest and, despite its sad themes, full of hope and inspiration," concluded a Publishers Weekly reviewer.
A a sequel to the award-winning I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This, Lena is narrated from the point of view of Marie's poor white friend. The novel follows Lena and her little sister, Dion, as they run away from their father and his sexual abuse, the two of them disguised as boys. Intending to hitchhike to the birthplace of their dead mother, the sisters face the initial obstacle of the cold of winter, but along the way they meet some friendly people who help and encourage them. "Soulful, wise and sometimes wrenching, this taut story never loses its grip on the reader," declared a contributor for Publishers Weekly. Deborah Stevenson, writing in the Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, felt that Lena "is ultimately a tender and loving story of … encountering much goodness in the world as well as ultimately finding a place to belong in it."
The issue of homosexuality is addressed in the novels From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun and The House You Pass on the Way. Thirteen-year-old Melanin Sun, the central character in the former novel, has a close relationship with his single working mom, a woman who is also putting herself through law school. Their bond is strained, however, when the teen's mother reveals that she is a lesbian and that she is in love with a white woman. Torn between his emotional need for his mother and his fear about what her lesbianism implies, Melanin also experiences a tough time as gossip in the neighborhood spreads and the boy's friends start to abandon him. Lois Metzger, reviewing the novel in the New York Times Book Review, called From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun a "moving, lovely book," while Hazel S. Moore asserted in Voice of Youth Advocates that, in the novel, "Woodson has addressed with care and skill the sensitive issue of homosexuality within the family … [without] becoming an advocate of any particular attitude." In The House You Pass on the Way fourteen-year-old Evangeline, the middle child in a mixed-race family, struggles with feelings of guilt and dismay over her awakening sexual orientation. In Woodson's story "a provocative topic [is] treated with wisdom and sensitivity," noted a Kirkus Reviews critic, "with a strong secondary thread exploring some of the inner and outer effects of biracialism."
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The plight of three orphaned brothers in New York is presented in Woodson's Coretta Scott King Award-winning novel, Miracle's Boys. Lafayette (or Laff as he is called), the youngest of the three siblings, tells the "story in a voice that's funny, smart, and troubled," according to Hazel Rochman in Booklist. Ty'ree, the oldest brother, has given up his educational opportunities to raise his younger brothers, but the teen faces conflict at every turn from middle brother Charlie, a gang member who has just returned from a correctional institution after robbing a candy story. The boys' relationship is also haunted by the memory of their dead mother, Milagro; Charlie blames Laff for her death. Through it all, the brothers try to stay together, healing their grief as best as they can. A contributor to Horn Book praised Lafayette's narrative voice, noting that it "maintains a tone of sweet melancholy that is likely to hold the attention of thoughtful young teens." In Publishers Weekly a critic dubbed Miracle's Boys an "intelligently wrought, thought-provoking story," and Edward Sullivan, writing in School Library Journal, found Woodson's "story of tough, self-sufficient young men to be powerful and engaging."
Woodson focuses on a different kind of coming of age in Locomotion, a finalist for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature. Here readers meet eleven-year-old Lonnie Collins Motion, a boy who is known to his friends by the titular nickname, the title of a popular song from the 1960s. Four years ago, Lonnie's life changed forever when his parents were killed in a fire. Since then he and his sister have been living in foster care, where life is pretty unstable. Now, through the influence of his caring fifth-grade teacher, Lonnie's life changes for the better when he discovers the power of self-expression through poetry. A novel that features a variety of verse forms, from free verse to haiku to sonnets, Locomotion was described by Horn Book contributor Jennifer M. Brabander as a "finely crafted story of heartbreak and hope" in which Woodson's "accessible … narrative will attract readers." "Count on … Woodson … to present readers with a moving, lyrical, and completely convincing novel in verse," concluded a Kirkus Reviews writer of the novel.
With Hush Woodson explores the loss of a child's identity when a young girl and her family are forced into the witness protection program. Toswiah Green's father is a black policeman in Denver. Her life is perfect: a wonderful home, caring parents, and cool friends. However, when her father chooses to testify against fellow policemen—white law enforcement officials whom he witnessed shooting and killing an unarmed black teen—the lives of the entire family are turned upside down. The white community and his fellow police officers turn against Green, and the family must enter the witness protection program, move to another state, and assume new identities. Racism, self-identity, the class system, and ethical imperatives are among the themes dealt with in the journal that Toswiah keeps, writing under her new name, Evie Thomas. "Woodson shows that while Evie's situation is extreme, everyone has to leave
home and come to terms with many shifting identities," commented Rochman in a Booklist review. Jennifer M. Brabander, reviewing Hush in Horn Book, also lauded the story, concluding that Woodson's "poetic, low-key, yet vivid writing style perfectly conveys the story's atmosphere of quiet intensity."
If You Come Softly is a "meditative interracial love story with a wrenching climatic twist," according to a critic for Kirkus Reviews. The star-crossed lovers in this tale are Jeremiah (or Miah) and Ellie, a black boy and a white girl, who fall in love while attending the same private school. Although they successfully bridge the gulf between their families, when Miah forgets his father's warning and runs through a park in a white neighborhood, he is shot down by police. "As in all of her fiction, Woodson confronts prejudice head-on," wrote Rochman of the book, and School Library Journal contributor Tom S. Hurlburt described If You Come Softly as "a novel that will ring true with young adults as it makes subtle comments on social situations."
The violence that is commonplace to children living in the inner city is the focus of Woodson's novels Behind You and After Tupac and D Foster. A sequel to If You Come Softly, Behind You lets readers reunite with fifteen-year-old Miah. The meeting is an unusual one, however, as Miah is now a ghost, having been mistakenly killed by police in a tragic shooting at the close of the previous novel. In alternating narratives, Miah and Ellie now describe events in the aftermath of the shooting, illuminating the effect of the tragedy on their grief-stricken family members and friends. Booklist contributor Gillian Engberg praised the novel's characters, writing that their "open strength and wary optimism will resonate with many teens." Behind You "is strewn with poignant emblems of the narrators' grief," according to Horn Book contributor Christine M. Heppermann, the critic concluding that "Woodson deftly uses her story as an opportunity for social commentary."
Three close friends measure the passage of time in their short lives by the well-publicized shooting and death of rap singer Tupac Shakur in After Tupac and D Foster. The years 1994 to 1996 mark a magical but all to short time in the lives of eleven year olds Neeka, D Foster, and the story's narrator. Living in Queens, New York, the girls become close in 1994, after D, a free-spirited foster child, meets the other two girls. With news that Tupac has been shot, the three friends join others in exploring the singer's music, and Tupac's lyrics about racial inequality. Through D, as well as through these lyrics, Neeka and the narrator learn about life on the streets and their world broadens. In addition to marking the musician's death, 1996 is a year of tumult in the girls' lives, as D is taken away by her birth mother and the trio is disbanded forever. Other characters, such as Neeka's incarcerated older brother, also figure in the plot and tap into Woodson's characteristic focus on race, gender, and tolerance. Praising the story for its "subtle details, authentic language, and rich [character] development," Engberg deemed After Tupac and D Foster "a memorable, affecting novel about the sustaining power of love and friendship." In Publishers Weekly a critic wrote that "the subtlety and depth with which the author conveys the girls' relationships lend this novel exceptional vividness and staying power," and Hepperman deemed Woodson's novel "ruminative" and "bittersweet," and emanating a "fierce warmth and closeness."
Threaded with music of a different sort—in this case the poetry of Emily Dickinson—Woodson's Newbery Honor award-winning Feathers takes place in 1971, during the Vietnam War. The novel joins sixth grader Fannie as a new friend in her life changes the way she sees the world. A bright student, Frannie finds her imagination captured by Dickinson's verse, as well as by a new student in her class of mostly black students: the white, long-haired boy derogatorily nicknamed Jesus Boy. Because of Jesus Boy's pacifist nature, Frannie and friend Samantha begin to wonder whether the nickname might not hint at a reality, because their unstable world seems to be in need of Jesus right now. Discussing Fannie, Maria D. LaRocco wrote in School Library Journal that Woodson exhibits "her usual talent for cre- ating characters who confront, reflect, and grow into their own persons." Feathers "raises important questions about God, racial segregation and issues surrounding the hearing-impaired with a light and thoughtful touch," wrote a Publishers Weekly contributor, while Rochman described it as a "small, fast-moving novel that introduces big issues—faith, class, color,… disability, and friendship." As Lauren Adams concluded of Feathers in Horn Book, "Woodson deftly, even lyrically, weaves some large ideas through her story, [but] … it's those small moments … that linger so profoundly."
Although most of her works have been aimed at preteen and teenage audiences, Woodson has also written a novel for adults, Autobiography of a Family Photo, and picture books such as We Had a Picnic This Sunday Past, The Other Side, and Coming on Home Soon, as well as the historical story Show Way, which draws from the author's family history. In her picture books, Woodson deals with themes similar to those she explores in her works for older readers. A large African-American family is having a picnic in the park in We Had a Picnic This Sunday Past, a book Carolyn Noah described in School Library Journal as "so joyous and loving" that readers will "feel they were there." Janice M. Del Negro also praised the work in Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, calling it a "feast of a … book that is bound to provoke memories of family gatherings."
In The Other Side, which features evocative artwork by E.B. Lewis, Woodson examines the racial divide in the United States via two girls, one white and one black, who slowly get to know one another as they sit on the fence that separates their town's races. "Eventually it's the fence that's out of place, not the friendship," wrote Catherine T. Quattlebaum in a School Library Journal review. A contributor for Publishers Weekly had similar praise, noting that in The Other Side Woodson "lays out her resonant story like a poem." In Booklist Rochman also addressed the poetic aspect of the picture book, commenting that "even young children will understand the fence metaphor and they will enjoy the quiet friendship drama."
In Sweet, Sweet Memory Woodson deals with the death of a beloved grandparent. At first deeply saddened by the passing of her grandfather, a little girl slowly eases her pain with fond, funny memories that make her laugh. Booklist contributor Ilene Cooper noted that Woodson's "elegant text" is enhanced by Floyd Cooper's artwork, creating a book that will "resonate with those who have lost someone dear." Another picture book, Our Gracie Aunt, presents readers with what a Publishers Weekly critic dubbed an "affecting story" about a little boy and girl cared for by their loving aunt while their mother recuperates in the hospital. The same reviewer concluded that the "rosy qualities of this tale do not impair its emotional truth."
In Coming on Home Soon "Woodson's gently evocative words are expressively developed in Lewis's [Caldecott Honor award-winning] watercolors," according to Horn Book contributor Susan Dove Lempke. In the picture book, which is set during World War II, Ada Ruth's mother must go north to Chicago to work to support the family after her husband joins the military. Like many children of working mothers, Ada Ruth lives temporarily with a family member, and in this case it is her grandma. Although her grandma is loving and affectionate, she is no replacement for Ada Ruth's mother, who is greatly missed. A Publishers Weekly contributor called Coming on Home Soon a "quietly stirring tale" that pairs Woodson's "lyrical and spontaneous" narrative with Lewis's "lifelike, earth-toned watercolors," and Mary N. Oluonye deemed it a "tender, heart-felt story that will touch readers" in her School Library Journal review.
"Death happens," Woodson told Samiya A. Bashir in Black Issues Book Review. "Sexual abuse happens. Parents leave. These things happen every day and people think that if they don't talk about it, then it will just go away. But that's what makes it spread like the plague it is. People say that they're censoring in the guise of protecting children, but if they'd open their eyes they'd see that kids are exposed to this stuff every day, and we need a venue by which to talk to them about it and start a dialogue. My writing comes from this place, of wanting to change the world. I feel like young people are the most open."
In accepting her Coretta Scott King award, Woodson expressed her gratitude for all those teachers, librarians, and editors who had praised her work. "But most of all," the author continued, "I am grateful for young people—young people of African descent and children of all colors. I am grateful when I walk down the street and hear a young person laughing or singing or begging their mom for a few more minutes outside. I am grateful for the little kids in the schools I visit who touch my hair and gaze up at me—curious and open and eager to know something and/or someone different. Curious and open and eager … to know."
Biographical and Critical Sources
Children's Literature Review, Volume 49, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1998.
Gay and Lesbian Literature, Volume 2, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1998.
St. James Guide to Young-Adult Writers, 2nd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.
Twentieth-Century Children's Writers, 4th edition, edited by Laura Standley Berger, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1995.
Writers for Young Adults, edited by Ted Hipple, Scribner (New York, NY), 2000, pp. 377-385.
Black Issues Book Review, May, 2001, Samiya A. Bashir, "Tough Issues, Tender Minds," p. 78; March-April, 2002, Lynda Jones, review of Hush, p. 67; July-August, 2002, Lynda Jones, review of Our Gracie Aunt, p. 75.
Booklist, August, 1998, Ilene Cooper, review of We Had a Picnic This Sunday Past, p. 2017; October 1, 1998, Hazel Rochman, review of If You Come Softly, p. 326; February 1, 1999, Hazel Rochman, review of Lena, p. 970; February 15, 2000, Hazel Rochman, review of Miracle's Boys, p. 1102; February 15, 2001, Ilene Cooper, review of Sweet, Sweet Memory, p. 1158; February 15, 2001, Hazel Rochman, review of The Other Side, p. 1154; January 1, 2002, Hazel Rochman, review of Hush, p. 851; September 16, 2002, Hazel Rochman, review of Our Gracie Aunt, p. 137; November 1, 2002, Stephanie Zvirin, review of Visiting Day, p. 504; February 15, 2003, Hazel Rochman, review of Locomotion, p. 1083; February 15, 2004, Gillian Engberg, review of Behind You, p. 1073; August, 2004, Hazel Rochman, review of Coming on Home Soon, p. 1925; September 15, 2005, Hazel Rochman, review of Show Way, p. 63; November 15, 2006, Hazel Rochman, review of Feathers, p. 49; February 1, 2008, Gillian Engberg, review of After Tupac and D Foster, p. 51.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, October, 1990, Roger Sutton, review of Last Summer with Maizon, pp. 49-50; December, 1992, Roger Sutton, review of Maizon at Blue Hill, p. 128; September, 1998, Janice M. Del Negro, review of We Had a Picnic This Sunday Past, p. 40; April, 1999, Deborah Stevenson, review of Lena, p. 298; February, 2001, Janice M. Del Negro, review of The Other Side, p. 211; May, 2001, Janice M. Del Negro, review of Sweet, Sweet Memory, p. 357; March, 2002, review of Hush, p. 262; September, 2002, review of Our Gracie Aunt, p. 37; December, 2002, review of Visiting Day, p. 178; March, 2003, review of Locomotion, p. 294; February, 2005, Deborah Stevenson, review of Coming on Home Soon, p. 272.
Entertainment Weekly, April 21, 1995, Margot Mifflin, review of Autobiography of a Family Photo, pp. 50-51.
Horn Book, September, 1992, Rudine Sims Bishop, review of Last Summer with Maisie, pp. 616-620; November-December, 1995, Jacqueline Woodson, "A Sign of Having Been Here," pp. 711-715; March-April, 2000, review of Miracle's Boys, p. 203; July-August, 2001, Nell B. Beram, review of Girls Got Game: Sports Stories and Poems, p. 458; January-February, 2002, Jennifer M. Brabander, review of Hush, p. 87; November-December, 2002, Roger Sutton, review of Visiting Day, p. 743; March-April, 2003, Jennifer M. Brabander, review of Locomotion, p. 219; May-June, 2004, Christine M. Heppermann, review of Behind You, p. 338; September-October, 2004, Susan Dove Lempke, review of Coming on Home Soon, p. 577; November-December, 2005, Joanna Rudge Long, review of Show Way, p. 712; March-April, 2007, Lauren Adams, review of Feathers, p. 206; January-February, 2008, Christine M. Heppermann, review of After Tupac and D Foster, p. 98.
Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 1993, review of Between Madison and Palmetto, p. 1532; October 1, 1994, review of Autobiography of a Family Photo, pp. 1307-1308; July 1, 1997, review of The House You Pass on the Way, p. 1038; August 15, 1998, review of If You Come Softly, p. 1199; December 15, 1998, review of Lena, p. 1805; December 1, 2001, review of Hush, p. 169; November 15, 2002, review of Locomotion, p. 1704; May 1, 2004, review of Behind You, p. 451; September 15, 2004, review of Coming on Home Soon, p. 932; September 15, 2005, review of Show Way, p. 1037; February 1, 2007, review of Feathers, p. 131; December 1, 2007, review of After Tupac and D Foster.
Kliatt, January, 1999, Paula Rohrlick, review of Lena, pp. 10-11; January, 2002, Claire Rosser, review of Hush, p. 8; March, 2002, Claire Rosser, review of Miracle's Boys, p. 20; May, 2004, Nancy Zachary, review of The Dear One, p. 25; May, 2004, Paula Rohrlick, review of Behind You, p. 15; January, 2008, Claire Rosser, review of After Tupac and D Foster, p. 13.
Ms., November-December, 1994, Diane R. Paylor, "Bold Type: Jacqueline Woodson's "Girl Stories,’" p. 77.
New York Times Book Review, February 26, 1995, Catherine Bush, "A World without Childhood," p. 14; July 16, 1995, Lois Metzger, review of From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun, p. 27.
Publishers Weekly, November 8, 1993, review of Between Madison and Palmetto, p. 78; April 18, 1994, review of I Hadn't Meant to Tell You This, p. 64; June 22, 1998, review of If You Come Softly, p. 92; December 14, 1998, review of Lena, p. 77; April 17, 2000, review of Miracle's Boys, p. 81; December 4, 2000, review of The Other Side, p. 73; December 10, 2001, review of Hush, p. 71; March 4, 2002, review of Our Gracie Aunt, p. 79; September 16, 2002, review of Visiting Day, p. 68; November 25, 2002, review of Locomotion, p. 68; November 17, 2003, review of The House You Pass on the Way, p. 68; November 29, 2004, review of Coming on Home Soon, p. 40 September 12, 2005, review of Show Way, p. 67; January 8, 2007, review of Feathers, p. 51; December 10, 2007, review of After Tupac and D Foster, p. 56.
Reading Today, February, 2001, Lynne T. Burke, review of The Other Side, p. 32.
School Librarian, November, 1991, Julie Blaisdale, review of Last Summer with Maizon, p. 154.
School Library Journal, May, 1998, Carolyn Noah, review of We Had a Picnic This Sunday Past, p. 128; December, 1998, Tom S. Hurlburt, review of If You Come Softly, p. 132; May, 2000, Edward Sullivan, review of Miracle's Boys, p. 178; January, 2001, Catherine T. Quattlebaum, review of The Other Side, p. 112; April, 2001, Marianne Saccardi, review of Sweet, Sweet Memory, p. 126; August, 2001, Jacqueline Woodson, "Miracles" (Coretta Scott King acceptance speech), p. 57; February, 2002, Sharon Grover, review of Hush, p. 138; September, 2002, Susan Pine, review of Visiting Day, p. 208; December, 2002, Anna DeWind, review of Our Gracie Aunt, p. 114; January, 2003, Faith Brautigam, review of Locomotion, p. 172; June, 2004, Gerry Larson, review of Behind You, p. 154; October, 2004, Mary N. Oluonye, reviews of The Other Side, p. 66, and Coming on Home Soon, p. 137; November, 2005, Mary N. Oluonye, review of Show Way, p. 111; June, 2006, Deborah Taylor, interview with Woodson, p. 42; April, 2007, D. Maria LaRocco, review of Feathers, p. 152; April, 2008, Kelly Vikstrom, review of After Tupac and D Foster, p. 154.
Voice of Youth Advocates, October, 1991, Hazel S. Moore, review of The Dear One, p. 236; October, 1992, Alice F. Stern, review of Maizon at Blue Hill, p. 235; June, 1994, Alice F. Stern, review of Between Madison and Palmetto, p. 95; October, 1995, Hazel S. Moore, review of From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun, p. 227; February, 2001, review of Miracle's Boys, p. 400.
African American Literature Book Club Web site,http://www.aalbc.com/ (June 15, 2008), "Jacqueline Woodson."
Bantam Doubleday Dell Web Site,http://www.bdd.com/ (April 8, 1997), "Jacqueline Woodson."
Jacqueline Woodson Home Page,http://www.jacquelinewoodson.com (June 15, 2008).