Wednesday, September 24, 2014


by Jacqueline Woodson

Woodson, Jacqueline. Feathers. New York, NY: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2007. 
ISBN 9780399239892

Plot Summary
"Hope is the thing with feathers," Frannie, a fifth grader at Price can not seem to stop thinking about that part of the Emily Dickinson poem they are studying in school. It's 1971 and Frannie lives on the black side of the tracks with her parents and deaf brother, when a white boy arrives at school one day. This boy, while being the only white kid at Price has an affect on people and their beliefs in a positive way. Through difficult experiences with segregation, bullying, racism, and family issues, Frannie questions her faith and hope, but never seems to give up.

Critical Analysis
In this Newberry Honor Book, Jacqueline Woodson expertly merges historical events and music during the course of the story. She also brings up difficult life issues about segregation, questions about God, and matters surrounding deafness.

The African American culture is very apparent in Woodson's writing with dialect, language patterns, descriptions of skin color, and other cultural references. "Don't no pale-faces go to this school. You need to get you white butt back across the highway" (Woodson 2007). That quote by Trevor, a character in the story spotlights a few of the cultural markers through dialect presented throughout the book. The dialect of the text back up the setting which takes place in the 1970s.

The overall quality of this story is excellent. The theme of hope along with the tough issues of segregation, racism, God, bullying, and deafness will lead to some deep and profound discussions.

Review Excerpts
  • "The story ends with hope and thoughtfulness while speaking to those adolescents who struggle with race, faith, and prejudice. They will appreciate its wisdom and positive connections." - School Library Journal
  • "Maybe there is something magical about the Jesus Boy or perhaps the magic lies within the young people whom he encounters. Either way, this book is dynamic as it speaks to real issues that teens face." - Voice of Youth Advocate
  • "There's a lot going on in this small, fast-moving novel that introduces big issues--faith, class, color, prejudice, family, disability, and friendship." - Booklist

Suggest other books by Jacqueline Woodson.
  • Last Summer with Maizon (9780698119291)
  • Brown Girl Dreaming (9780399252518)
Have discussions with students about how the story made them feel. Open up the discussion to the tough topics of segregation and racism.

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