If you have read some of my blog you will know I adore verse novels. When I was in New York I visited the famous children’s bookstore Books of Wonder. My problem in a bookstore like this is what book or books to buy. As I browsed along the shelves I saw Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson. I have seen this author mentioned on lots of book lists and while I have read some reviews of her books I have never been quite sure if her books would be good to purchase for my school library.
I bought Locomotion and read it in one sitting! In fact I loved it so much that a few weeks later I gave my copy to Joyce, the US Reading teacher I mentioned when I was talking about The world according to Humphrey. We had talked about how much we love verse novels so this book was the perfect gift.
I continue to be amazed at the way verse novels consistently present complex and deeply emotional stories from such brief texts. The real name of our narrator is Lonnie Collins Motion or Lo Co Motion. His mum loves to dance to the song Come on Baby do the Locomotion hence the name. This is a special memory for Lonnie. I say memory because Lonnie's parents are dead through a tragedy that is so profound I will not elaborate. Jacqueline Woodson, just like Sharon Creech in Love that dog, slowly reveals what has happened and why Lonnie is living with Miss Edna while is sister is far away living with a new mama. “The floors are made of wood and there’s pretty rugs in different spots. … I don’t lean back though cause Lili’s new mama will give me a look. … I take a little sip of milk and make sure to set my glass back down on the coaster thing ‘cause I know Lili’s new mama is watching me from the kitchen.”
This is a book for a sensitive reader in upper Primary. It has won many awards which you can see listed on the author’s own web site. As an added bonus I read this book while I was visiting Brooklyn and New York. You can find some teaching notes here. Here are some details about the poetry. I do not give books a rating but I would give Locomotion ten out of ten!