What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that there is nothing to be concerned about here, and lots of ideas to think about.
What's the story?
There is no plot, but here are the elements. In 1971, with war in the background, Franny's brother is deaf, and her mother is pregnant again after several miscarriages. In school, there's a new white student in her all-black class, and her best friend thinks he might be Jesus, while the class bully can't seem to leave him alone.
Is it any good?
There are kids' books written to appeal to kids, and there are kids' books written to appeal to the adults who buy the books for kids. There's almost always at least one of the latter type among the Newbery winners. They tend be cerebral rather than emotional, to involve Big Ideas, such as racism, poverty, and religion, but they are often rather skimpy on actual, you know, story. FEATHERS is one of those.
That's not to say that it isn't good -- it is. It's beautifully written, lyrical, thoughtful, at times even wise. There are undoubtedly some kids, patient and experienced readers who don't need a story to keep them turning the pages, who will enjoy this, maybe even love it. But not many. Mostly it will be loved by the adults who make the purchasing decisions. But for those who assume that a Newbery Honor means it's a good book to recommend to kids, here is, yet again, proof of the falseness of that assumption.
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about Dickenson's poem. What is it about? Why did the author use it so pervasively? How does it apply to the lives of these characters? Also, why do you think this book won the Newbery Honor?