Finalist for the National Book Award

When Lonnie was seven years old, his parents died in a fire. Now he's eleven, and he still misses them terribly. And he misses his little sister, Lili, who was put into a different foster home because "not a lot of people want boys-not foster boys that ain't babies." But Lonnie hasn't given up. His foster mother, Miss Edna, is growing on him. She's already raised two sons and she seems to know what makes them tick. And his teacher, Ms. Marcus, is showing him ways to put his jumbled feelings on paper.

Told entirely through Lonnie's poetry, we see his heartbreak over his lost family, his thoughtful perspective on the world around him, and most of all his love for Lili and his determination to one day put at least half of their family back together. Jacqueline Woodson's poignant story of love, loss, and hope is lyrically written and enormously accessible.
© John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Jacqueline Woodson (www.jacquelinewoodson.com) received a 2023 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a 2020 MacArthur Fellowship, the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award, the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and the 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award. She was the 2018–2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and in 2015, she was named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. She received the 2014 National Book Award for her New York Times bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, which was also a recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor, the NAACP Image Award, and a Sibert Honor. She wrote the adult books Red at the Bone, a New York Times bestseller, and Another Brooklyn, a 2016 National Book Award finalist. Born in Columbus, Ohio, Jacqueline grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from college with a B.A. in English. She is the author of dozens of award-winning books for young adults, middle graders, and children; among her many accolades, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a four-time National Book Award finalist, and a three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. Her books include Coretta Scott King Award and NAACP Image Award winner Before the Ever After; New York Times bestsellers The Day You Begin and Harbor Me; The Other Side, Caldecott Honor book Coming On Home Soon; Newbery Honor winners Feathers, Show Way, and After Tupac and D Foster; Miracle's Boys, which received the LA Times Book Prize and the Coretta Scott King Award; and Each Kindness, which won the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. Jacqueline is also a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement for her contributions to young adult literature. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York. View titles by Jacqueline Woodson

Table of Contents

ALSO BY JACQUELINE WOODSON

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Epigraph

 

POEM BOOK

ROOF

LINE BREAK POEM

MEMORY

MAMA

LILI

FIRST

COMMERCIAL BREAK

HAIKU

GROUP HOME BEFORE MISS EDNA’S HOUSE

HALLOWEEN POEM

PARENTS POEM

SONNET POEM

HOW I GOT MY NAME

DESCRIBE SOMEBODY

EPISTLE POEM

ROOF POEM II

ME, ERIC, LAMONT & ANGEL

FAILING

NEW BOY

DECEMBER 9

LIST POEM

LATE SATURDAY AFTERNOON IN HALSEY STREET PARK

PIGEON

SOMETIMES POEM

WAR POEM

GEORGIA

NEW BOY POEM II

TUESDAY

VISITING

JUST NOTHING POEM

GOD POEM

ALL OF A SUDDEN, THE POEM

HEY DOG

OCCASIONAL POEM

HAIKU POEM

LATENYA

POETRY POEM

ERIC POEM

LAMONT

HIP HOP RULES THE WORLD

PHOTOGRAPHS

NEW BOY POEM III

HAPPINESS POEM

BIRTH

LILI’S NEW MAMA’S HOUSE

CHURCH

NEW BOY POEM IV

TEACHER OF THE YEAR

EASTER SUNDAY

RODNEY

EPITAPH POEM

FIREFLY

THE FIRE

ALMOST SUMMER SKY

CLYDE POEM I: DOWN SOUTH

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

DEAR GOD

LATENYA II

JUNE

 

Acknowledgements

Discussion Questions

An Exciting Preview of: Brown Girl Dreaming

An Exciting Preview of: Peace, Locomotion

MAMA

Some days, like today
and yesterday and probably
tomorrow—all my missing gets jumbled up inside of me.

 

You know honeysuckle talc powder?
Mama used to smell like that. She told me
honeysuckle’s really a flower but all I know
is the powder that smells like Mama.
Sometimes when the missing gets real bad
I go to the drugstore and before the guard starts
following me around like I’m gonna steal something
I go to the cosmetics lady and ask her if she has it....

ALSO BY JACQUELINE WOODSON

After Tupac and D Foster

Behind You

Beneath a Meth Moon

Between Madison and Palmetto

Brown Girl Dreaming

The Dear One

Feathers

From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun

The House You Pass on the Way

Hush

I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This

If You Come Softly

Last Summer with Maizon

Lena

Maizon at Blue Hill

Miracle’s Boys

Peace, Locomotion

SPEAK

 


Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Group (Canada), 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
(a division of Penguin Books Ltd)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124,
Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)
Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park,
New Delhi - 110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), Cnr Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland,
New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank,
Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

 

Registered Offices: Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

 

First published in the United States of America by G. P. Putnam’s Sons,
a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 2003
Published by Speak, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2004

 

Copyright © Jacqueline Woodson, 2003

  • WINNER
    Best Books for Young Readers
  • WINNER
    Coretta Scott King Honor
  • WINNER
    Notable Children's Books
* “A moving, lyrical, and completely convincing novel. . . . Woodson nails Lonnie’s voice from the start, and lets him express himself through images and thoughts that vibrate in the different kinds of lines he puts down. . . . Woodson’s created a character whose presence you can feel like they were sitting next to you. . . . Don’t let anyone miss this.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* “In a masterful use of voice, Woodson allows Lonnie’s poems to tell a complex story of loss and grief and to create a gritty, urban environment. . . . Minor characters are three-dimensional, making the boy’s world a convincingly real one. . . . The author places the characters in nearly unbearable circumstances, then lets incredible human resiliency shine through.”—School Library Journal, starred review

* “The sixty poems are skillfully and artfully composed—but still manage to sound fresh and spontaneous. The accessible form will attract readers; Woodson’s finely crafted story won’t let them go.”—The Horn Book, starred review

* “Woodson, through Lonnie, creates a contagious appreciation for poetry while using the genre as a cathartic means for expressing the young poet’s own grief.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

About

Finalist for the National Book Award

When Lonnie was seven years old, his parents died in a fire. Now he's eleven, and he still misses them terribly. And he misses his little sister, Lili, who was put into a different foster home because "not a lot of people want boys-not foster boys that ain't babies." But Lonnie hasn't given up. His foster mother, Miss Edna, is growing on him. She's already raised two sons and she seems to know what makes them tick. And his teacher, Ms. Marcus, is showing him ways to put his jumbled feelings on paper.

Told entirely through Lonnie's poetry, we see his heartbreak over his lost family, his thoughtful perspective on the world around him, and most of all his love for Lili and his determination to one day put at least half of their family back together. Jacqueline Woodson's poignant story of love, loss, and hope is lyrically written and enormously accessible.

Author

© John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation
Jacqueline Woodson (www.jacquelinewoodson.com) received a 2023 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship, a 2020 MacArthur Fellowship, the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award, the 2018 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award, and the 2018 Children’s Literature Legacy Award. She was the 2018–2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, and in 2015, she was named the Young People’s Poet Laureate by the Poetry Foundation. She received the 2014 National Book Award for her New York Times bestselling memoir Brown Girl Dreaming, which was also a recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award, a Newbery Honor, the NAACP Image Award, and a Sibert Honor. She wrote the adult books Red at the Bone, a New York Times bestseller, and Another Brooklyn, a 2016 National Book Award finalist. Born in Columbus, Ohio, Jacqueline grew up in Greenville, South Carolina, and Brooklyn, New York, and graduated from college with a B.A. in English. She is the author of dozens of award-winning books for young adults, middle graders, and children; among her many accolades, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a four-time National Book Award finalist, and a three-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. Her books include Coretta Scott King Award and NAACP Image Award winner Before the Ever After; New York Times bestsellers The Day You Begin and Harbor Me; The Other Side, Caldecott Honor book Coming On Home Soon; Newbery Honor winners Feathers, Show Way, and After Tupac and D Foster; Miracle's Boys, which received the LA Times Book Prize and the Coretta Scott King Award; and Each Kindness, which won the Jane Addams Children’s Book Award. Jacqueline is also a recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement for her contributions to young adult literature. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York. View titles by Jacqueline Woodson

Excerpt

Table of Contents

ALSO BY JACQUELINE WOODSON

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Epigraph

 

POEM BOOK

ROOF

LINE BREAK POEM

MEMORY

MAMA

LILI

FIRST

COMMERCIAL BREAK

HAIKU

GROUP HOME BEFORE MISS EDNA’S HOUSE

HALLOWEEN POEM

PARENTS POEM

SONNET POEM

HOW I GOT MY NAME

DESCRIBE SOMEBODY

EPISTLE POEM

ROOF POEM II

ME, ERIC, LAMONT & ANGEL

FAILING

NEW BOY

DECEMBER 9

LIST POEM

LATE SATURDAY AFTERNOON IN HALSEY STREET PARK

PIGEON

SOMETIMES POEM

WAR POEM

GEORGIA

NEW BOY POEM II

TUESDAY

VISITING

JUST NOTHING POEM

GOD POEM

ALL OF A SUDDEN, THE POEM

HEY DOG

OCCASIONAL POEM

HAIKU POEM

LATENYA

POETRY POEM

ERIC POEM

LAMONT

HIP HOP RULES THE WORLD

PHOTOGRAPHS

NEW BOY POEM III

HAPPINESS POEM

BIRTH

LILI’S NEW MAMA’S HOUSE

CHURCH

NEW BOY POEM IV

TEACHER OF THE YEAR

EASTER SUNDAY

RODNEY

EPITAPH POEM

FIREFLY

THE FIRE

ALMOST SUMMER SKY

CLYDE POEM I: DOWN SOUTH

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

DEAR GOD

LATENYA II

JUNE

 

Acknowledgements

Discussion Questions

An Exciting Preview of: Brown Girl Dreaming

An Exciting Preview of: Peace, Locomotion

MAMA

Some days, like today
and yesterday and probably
tomorrow—all my missing gets jumbled up inside of me.

 

You know honeysuckle talc powder?
Mama used to smell like that. She told me
honeysuckle’s really a flower but all I know
is the powder that smells like Mama.
Sometimes when the missing gets real bad
I go to the drugstore and before the guard starts
following me around like I’m gonna steal something
I go to the cosmetics lady and ask her if she has it....

ALSO BY JACQUELINE WOODSON

After Tupac and D Foster

Behind You

Beneath a Meth Moon

Between Madison and Palmetto

Brown Girl Dreaming

The Dear One

Feathers

From the Notebooks of Melanin Sun

The House You Pass on the Way

Hush

I Hadn’t Meant to Tell You This

If You Come Softly

Last Summer with Maizon

Lena

Maizon at Blue Hill

Miracle’s Boys

Peace, Locomotion

SPEAK

 


Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 345 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.
Penguin Group (Canada), 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Ireland, 25 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland
(a division of Penguin Books Ltd)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124,
Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty Ltd)
Penguin Books India Pvt Ltd, 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park,
New Delhi - 110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), Cnr Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland,
New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty) Ltd, 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank,
Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

 

Registered Offices: Penguin Books Ltd, 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

 

First published in the United States of America by G. P. Putnam’s Sons,
a division of Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers, 2003
Published by Speak, an imprint of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 2004

 

Copyright © Jacqueline Woodson, 2003

Awards

  • WINNER
    Best Books for Young Readers
  • WINNER
    Coretta Scott King Honor
  • WINNER
    Notable Children's Books

Praise

* “A moving, lyrical, and completely convincing novel. . . . Woodson nails Lonnie’s voice from the start, and lets him express himself through images and thoughts that vibrate in the different kinds of lines he puts down. . . . Woodson’s created a character whose presence you can feel like they were sitting next to you. . . . Don’t let anyone miss this.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review

* “In a masterful use of voice, Woodson allows Lonnie’s poems to tell a complex story of loss and grief and to create a gritty, urban environment. . . . Minor characters are three-dimensional, making the boy’s world a convincingly real one. . . . The author places the characters in nearly unbearable circumstances, then lets incredible human resiliency shine through.”—School Library Journal, starred review

* “The sixty poems are skillfully and artfully composed—but still manage to sound fresh and spontaneous. The accessible form will attract readers; Woodson’s finely crafted story won’t let them go.”—The Horn Book, starred review

* “Woodson, through Lonnie, creates a contagious appreciation for poetry while using the genre as a cathartic means for expressing the young poet’s own grief.”—Publishers Weekly, starred review

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