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Author: Cline-Ransome, Lesa
Discovering a book of Langston Hughes' poetry in the library helps Langston cope with the loss of his mother, relocating from Alabama to Chicago as part of the Great Migration, and being bullied.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.50
Points: 3.0 Quiz: 195865
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 3-5
Reading Level: 4.60
Points: 7.0 Quiz: 74913
Coretta Scott King Author Honor, 2019
Kirkus Reviews (+) (05/01/18)
School Library Journal (08/01/18)
Booklist (+) (04/15/18)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (00/07/18)
The Hornbook (+) (00/09/18)
Full Text Reviews:
Booklist - 04/15/2018 *Starred Review* Langston wishes he was back in Alabama. The 11-year-old’s mother was barely dead and buried before his father moved them to Chicago, where, in 1946, “a man can provide for his family without always scraping and bowing.” But to Langston, Chicago is loneliness and lacking—no friends, family, or good food, just his dad’s bad cooking. Three bullies make life even harder. Then he discovers something that amazes him: a public library, and it’s not just for whites like the one back home. This branch library not only welcomes African Americans, it celebrates successful black men and women, especially writers. The library becomes Langston’s everything—his space away from his tiny apartment, his refuge from the bullies, the expansion of his world through books. It is also the place where he finds his namesake, Langston Hughes, and begins to find himself. Cline-Ransome, lauded for her picture books, including Booklist’s 2017 Top of the List title Before She Was Harriet, proves herself an adept novelist, one with keen insight into the human condition. Every character, child and adult, is layered, a feat made more remarkable by the fact that the writing is spare. Emotions and relationships are teased out through quiet details and glimmers of understanding, but the impact on the reader could not be more powerful. A memorable debut novel. - Copyright 2018 Booklist.
School Library Journal - 08/01/2018 Gr 2–5—It's 1946 and 11-year-old Langston, named after Langston Hughes, has just moved from Alabama to Chicago with his father following the death of his mother. Langston feels isolated and is bullied at school, and every day he misses Alabama: the dirt roads, his Grandma and her cooking, and the sound of Mama's voice. When Langston accidentally stumbles into the public library to ask for directions, he realizes that, unlike in Alabama, black people are allowed in the library, and portraits of esteemed black literary figures hang on the walls. Langston secretly visits the library daily and is pulled into the poetry of Langston Hughes, discovering his namesake. As the bullying at school intensifies and tragedy strikes his family, Langston finds solace with his neighbor, Miss Fulton, who reads Hughes's poetry out loud to him in the evenings. Cline-Ransome presents a stunning story of a boy during the Great Migration who finds his longing for the South and his father's fondness for the blues reflected in Hughes's poetry. Langston's observations about the world are astute, whether it's his realization of the burdens his father carries or how men on the street look at women. Readers who have struggled with grief, identity, racism, bullying, or loneliness will find their experiences reflected in this beautifully written novel, which has a satisfying, but not-too-tidy ending. VERDICT Cline-Ransome's novel is an engaging, quick, and relatable read that skillfully incorporates themes of race, class, post-war American life in the North and South, and a bit of Langston Hughes' poetry. This is a story that will stay with readers long after they've finished it. A first purchase for all libraries.—Liz Anderson, DC Public Library - Copyright 2018 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.