Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Shawn was zipped into a bag
and rolled away, his blood added
to the pavement galaxy of
bubblegum stars. The tape
framed it like it was art. And the next
day, kids would play mummy with it.
Will’s brother, Shawn, was murdered. Will’s certain he knows who did it, too. Will knows the rules: no crying, no snitching, you better seek revenge. He steps into an elevator, ready to find his brother’s killer, but the one-minute ride changes everything.
A Newbery Honor Book, a Coretta Scott King Honor Book, a Printz Honor Book, a National Book Award finalist, the winner of the Walter Dean Myers Award, an Edgar Award Winner for Best Young Adult Fiction, the Parents’ Choice Gold Award Winner, just to name a few.
This book is gut-wrenching masterpiece. Perfect down to the very last (unforgettable) words.
This Poem Is a Nest by Irene Latham
What Hope Is
Irene Latham has taken the concept of found poems and put her own spin on it: She’s written a poem she calls a Nest and then has created Nestlings from it — poems whose words all started in the original poem.
One of the things I love about poetry is its limitation and how that limitation creates so much opportunity. You can see that right here in what Irene’s done. There’s great backmatter to walk teachers, students, and aspiring poets through creating their own Nestlings, too. A Kirkus Reviews Best Book, an NCTE (National Council of Teachers of English) Notable Poetry Book.
I adore Irene. She is a talent and a generous soul, and I feel like she’s out there doing bookish things no one else is. If you haven’t read Irene’s work, please remedy that now!
New and Selected Poems, Volume One by Mary Oliver
The water, that circle of shattered glass,
healed itself with a slow whisper
As I mentioned a few weeks back, I’ve committed to reading poetry every night this year, and I started with New and Selected Poems. It’s got the poems most of us think of when we think of Mary Oliver — “When Death Comes,” “The Summer Day,” and “Wild Geese” (or at least the poems I think of!) and many more that were new to me. I love her reverence for nature and keen observation on what it means to be a person. Little lines jumped out at me, like these:
how the mind clings to the roads it knows, rushing
through crossroads, sticking
like lint to the familiar.
Who ever made music of a mild day?
Alone by Megan E. Freeman
When last year I learned a middle-grade verse novel about a girl surviving on her own was releasing in 2021, I immediately hunted down the details and contacted the book’s author, Megan E. Freeman. I had to have her on the blog! Regular readers here will remember her post from February.
Thirteen-year-old Maddie wakes up to discover the rest of her town has been evacuated in the night, and she’s been left to fend for herself. Certain the others will soon return, Maddie copes with caring for herself, faces numerous disasters and challenges, and clings to hope, trying to make sense of her “wild and precious life” (there’s that Mary Oliver again).
Could my life be any wilder?
Or more precious?
Thought provoking and courageous.