It’s Monday! We Are Reading a Book Recommended by a Character #SOL17

IMWAYR 2015

Our TBR stack is not self-sustaining!  We get recommendations every day from students, teachers, friends, neighbors, family members, librarians, blog posts, and reviews.  This summer we got a recommendation that took us by surprise.  It was from a character in a book.  A character who loved a book so much that we had to read it.

Mrs. Lorentz, a librarian, encourages the main character Ben, in When Friendship Followed Me Home, to read Feathers by Jaqueline Woodson.  At first, we did not even realize this was a true literacy reference.  We did not know of Feathers, so we immediately looked it up to if it was a real book.  Once we discovered it was an actual book it was on our minds as we read and journeyed with Ben and Halley throughout the novel, When Friendship Followed Me Home.

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We were not ready to say goodbye to Ben and Halley when we read the last page of this book.  They stayed with us for many months.  This book was one of our favorites from 2016.  I decided to listen to the audio version again in October.  This time I knew I had to read Feathers. I needed that connection with Ben and Halley.  I wanted to read it with them.  I went directly to the book store on my way home from work and picked it up.

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Feathers is an inspiring book about hope and the power of our words.  The main character Frannie, a sixth grade girl, is grappling with ideas of hope, equality, and acceptance.  Frannie is fascinated with this poem by Emily Dickinson:

Hope

Hope is the thing with feathers

that perches in the soul,
And sings the tune– without the words,

And never stops at all

Frannie spends the book trying to understand hope and how it has feathers.  Woodson sends clear messages about the power of story, hope and acceptance in this book.  It is set in the 1970s and examines what it is like to grow up in an urban setting just after segregation is outlawed.  Topics of race, religion, and equality are explored.  The characters in this book learn from each other as each faces his or her own realities and searches for meaning.

Mrs. Johnson, the teacher, encourages the students to write to help them find meaning and hope.

“Ms. Johnson says everybody has a story.  She said some of us are afraid to tell ours and that’s why when it comes time to write something, we say we have writer’s block.  Ms. Johnson says there’s no such thing as writer’s block.  She said it’s just your mind saying to your body, I ain’t trying to write that jive.” (110)

Through writing Mrs. Johnson teaches them to savor the moments in their lives and in these moments discover hope.

“Ms. Johnson says each day hold its own memory – its own moments that we can write about later.  She says we should always look for the moments and some of them might be perfect, filled with light and hope and laughter.  Moments that stay with us forever and ever.” (116)

Frannie learns many lessons in her quest to understand hope.  She experiences moments of pain and moments of joy.  In the end she comes to understand, the connection between life, hope and the power of choice.  We must choose to savor our stories and see hope when others may not.  Frannie ends the story by sharing her understanding of hope, “Each moment, I am thinking, is a thing with feathers.” (118) 

While I recommend this book to teachers, middle grade readers and friends, I urge Slicers to read this book.  It reflects everything Slice of Life represents – slowing down, noticing the ordinary, choosing to see, and discovering the moments of our lives.  A community that comes to together to share our stories and connect with each other through response.  We give each other hope through sharing our moments, our slices, with each other.

Clare

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16 Comments

  1. Diane Anderson(newtreemom) March 20, 2017

    Two for one! I will look for these two books. Since I am on break, I have time!!!

    Reply
  2. Marilyn March 20, 2017

    Thank you so much for this reflection and book recommendation! Hope is definitely on my mind these days.

    Reply
  3. fireflytrails March 20, 2017

    This is quite a slice – two book reviews (thanks!), a beautiful poem (a friend whose daughter’s name is Hope painted that on the wall of her room), and a tie-in to what we are doing every day with our writing. This is a powerful line – “each day hold its own memory.” Thanks for helping us think about how to capture that truth and put it into words.

    Reply
  4. Chris March 20, 2017

    How timely! I am jumping on Amazon tonight to order books. thanks for the recommendation!

    Reply
  5. Madalyn March 20, 2017

    THANK YOU!! These are added to my list! I also LOVE #IMWAYR, I just started it with my kids on padlet! Thanks for sharing!

    http://mbushsliceoflife.edublogs.org

    Reply
  6. Carrie Gelson March 20, 2017

    I loved When Friendship Followed me Home. Now going to pull out my copy of Feathers and tuck it in my bag. Thanks for the reminder.

    Reply
  7. Linda Baie March 20, 2017

    I loved When Friendship Followed me Home, and have read Feathers a long time ago. Maybe time for a re-read! Thanks for the reminder!

    Reply
  8. Diane Dougherty March 20, 2017

    Books to read–love the recommendations! And the connection to slicing–you are right. We have a community of writers and responders supporting each other. Ordering these books now!

    Reply
  9. Jane @ Raincity Librarian March 20, 2017

    Oh, what a wonderful tie-in! I’ve read Feathers but not When Friendship Followed Me Home, but you’ve inspired me!

    Reply
  10. Susan Kennedy March 20, 2017

    All our messages go back to slowing down. The universe definitely is sending a message.

    Reply
  11. Tara March 20, 2017

    Feathers is one of my favorite JW books – we read it aloud at the beginning of the school year to set the tone of our year…I’ll have to check out When Friendship now, too.

    Reply
  12. Melanie Meehan March 21, 2017

    I read Feathers a few years–I think when it first came out. I will reread it, as I want to read it with the lens of slicing–“slowing down, noticing the ordinary, choosing to see, and discovering the moments of our lives.” I love this! Beautiful slice that weaves so much together! Thank you.

    Reply
  13. Joanne C Toft March 21, 2017

    I love Feathers and it has been years since I read it. I have not read When Friendship followed me home – so will have to get that and read it along side Feathers. Thanks for the great post today.

    Reply
  14. Michele March 21, 2017

    I really need to get to FRIENDSHIP. It’s one I bought last year but haven’t gotten around to read.
    Jacqueline Woodson is just amazing with her words. They flow and are melodic.

    Reply
  15. Myra from GatheringBooks March 23, 2017

    I own a copy of Feathers by Woodson which has been languishing on my shelf for years now, I should get to it soonest!

    Reply

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