Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson
G.J. Putman and Sons, New York, 2003
Jacqueline Woodson has written a beautiful novel in verse for middle grade readers. Lonnie Collins Motion, named after his Mom’s favorite song, Locomotion,and his sister Lili have lost their parents in a fire and are living in different foster homes. This separation, the memory of his parents and their death and the fact that he lives with Miss Edna, who likes him to be quiet, make life very hard.
He is lucky though, he has a great teacher, Ms. Marcus, who has introduced his class to poetry and given Lonnie a way to express himself. He writes about his loss, his family and his love-hate relationship with poetry. He writes about the sky, about basketball and about God. The touch here is light and endearing, never mawkish, and the mixed styles of verse are very fun to read.
You don’t just get to write a poem once
You gotta write it over and over and over
until it feels real good to you
And sometimes it does
and sometimes it doesn’t
That’s what’s really good
and really stupid
Lonnie’s voice rings true. Through these poems we watch him grow up and gain some understanding . We see joy and peace begin to enter his life. Woodson has written a sequel, Peace Locomotion, as well as many other young adult and children’s books. Please visit her wonderful web site here.