Thursday, June 7, 2007

by Jacqueline Woodson

Frannie's sixth grade class changes when "Jesus boy" comes from across the highway and becomes the only white boy in her class. Frannie's been fixated on the idea of hope after reading an Emily Dickinson poem in class, and somehow Jesus boy gets tied into this ideal. Maintaining this hope sometimes is difficult as Frannie reflects on the way that girls treat her deaf brother, and as she thinks about her mother's miscarriages.

Woodson's writing is fine as always, although not a whole lot happens in this skinnyish chapter book. It's kind of a peculiar scene, on the one side of a 1970s Brooklyn highway, but the author sets it well. While the school is all black kids, a range of social classes are represented and the growing consciousness of the kids about this fact is well represented. There is also significant musing on religious themes, but that's not surprising with a character de facto named Jesus boy. A nice book but not so tightly gripping as Woodson's more prominent work.