Parents' Guide to


By Matt Berman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 9+

Boy's writings are lyrical, yet seamless and real.

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A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this book.

Community Reviews

age 10+

Based on 3 parent reviews

age 8+

A story of hope and healing, culturally appropriate.

This is a marvelous collection of poems that come together in a lyrical novel. 11-year old Lonnie has suffered devastating loss, and through his poems we learn about his journey through grief to find healing, love, and a new sense of family. The book is culturally appropriate (ie accurate!), written by a talented, award-winning African American author through the voice of an African American fifth grade boy.

This title has:

Educational value
Great messages
Great role models
age 10+

** Five Star Reviews Were All Written on the Same Day! **

It's funny how all the 5 star reviews were written on the same day. The author, publisher, and their supporters go to great lengths to pump up this ridiculous collection of poorly written poems in novel form. However, if you liked this book, be sure to read her other books about meth addiction, Tupac Shakur, and teen pregnancy. Teachers would be well advised to resist the siren call of the race and gender obsessed authors and spend time teaching kids about the classics. Poorly written and full of grammatical errors. Strunk and White are rolling over in their graves after reading just the first few pages.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (3 ):
Kids say (4 ):

Woodson creates a voice that is lyrical, yet seamless and real, and packs a surprising amount of intellectual and emotional material into this short, simple book.

Writing novels in free verse has become quite a trend since Out of the Dust won the Newbery Award. It's a form that can be awkward and even silly if not handled well, and too often the form and subject don't match, making the reader wonder why the author chose to write the story this way. But rarely, if ever, have form and subject matched as perfectly as they do here.

The reason for the poetry is part of the story -- it starts as assignments from a fifth-grade teacher, and then takes on a life of its own as Lonnie discovers his talent -- and his voice. He has suffered great loss, but his life is improving, and his chronicle of past and present is powerfully poignant as he tries out a number of poetic forms, and comments on the art of writing as well as his life and thoughts.

Book Details

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