by Jacqueline Woodson

“Hope is a thing with feathers.” Frannie loves the sound of the Emily... read more

“Hope is a thing with feathers.” Frannie loves the sound of the Emily Dickinson poem her teacher read in class. But she doesn’t understand it. “It’s a metaphor,” her older brother Sean explains. Metaphor or not, Frannie is having a hard time feeling hopeful. Her mother is spending a lot of time in bed again, like she did after losing the baby. Teenage girls flirt with Sean until they realize he’s deaf and turn away. The highway bordering her neighborhood is a dividing line—like a wall—between rich and poor, white and black. And then there is the new kid at school. Everyone calls him Jesus Boy because of his curly brown hair—and because he’s white. Or is he? In a seamless, stirring narrative, Jacqueline Woodson explores how assumptions and labels are barriers to genuine understanding and meaningful relationships. Looking for something to believe in, Frannie briefly thinks it might be Jesus Boy. He’s calm and centered, and he seems to see more than anyone else. Maybe he really is a savior. But it turns out he’s only a boy—a boy who knows from experience the importance of looking beneath the surface. For sensitive Frannie, Jesus Boy’s open heart and open mind are a hopeful affirmation of the way she wants to be in the world and the way she wants the world to be in a stirring novel about an African American girl growing up in the early 1970s. (Ages 10–14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2008

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