Lyrical and plotless -- for patient readers.

What parents need to know


A brief school fight.

Not applicable
Not applicable

Candy bar mentioned.

Drinking, drugs, & smoking
Not applicable

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 like FEATHERS, 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.

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?

Book details

Author:Jacqueline Woodson
Book type:Fiction
Publisher:G.P. Putnam's Sons
Publication date:March 1, 2007
Number of pages:118
Publisher's recommended age(s):10 - 14
Read aloud:10
Read alone:11
Award:Newbery Medal and Honors

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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What parents and kids say

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Kid, 10 years old November 18, 2010

Good for Patient Readers.

It's a great book and I think everyone should read it. Not much happens, though. The characters include: The narrator, her deaf brother, a white kid who comes to her all black school, and a bully.
Parent of a 10 year old Written byboragasux November 29, 2009
What other families should know
Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
Parent of a 13 year old Written byflohrkm September 10, 2009

Perfect for teens.

I thought this was a great book. Dealt with acceptance issues.


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