Book Brahmin: Jacqueline Woodson

Jacqueline Woodson has explored the complexities of awakening sexuality (The House You Pass on the Way), interracial relationships (If You Come Softly) and coming to terms with a painful history to retain a sense of hope (Show Way, which earned a Newbery Honor citation). In addition to Show Way, Woodson received Newbery Honors for Feathers and After Tupac and D Foster. She is the youngest person ever to win the Margaret A. Edwards Award for Lifetime Achievement from the Young Adult Library Services Association. She won a Coretta Scott King Award and the Los Angeles Times Prize for Miracle's Boys, which was made into a miniseries directed by, among others, Spike Lee. And her first play, Locomotion, adapted from her National Book Award Honor and Coretta Scott King Honor book of the same name, will be produced at the Kennedy Center in November 2010, coinciding with the publication of her most recent book, Pecan Pie Baby, illustrated by Sophie Blackall (Putnam/Penguin, November 2010). Pecan Pie Baby navigates the complicated feelings of young Gia as she anticipates a new brother or sister, and her loving mother's ability to reassure Gia that she will always be loved. 

On your nightstand now: 

The Ticking Is the Bomb by Nick Flynn, The Long Song by Andrea Levy and Hardheaded Weather by Cornelius Eady. 

Favorite book when you were a child: 

I read the same books over and over as a kid. Teachers and my family didn't understand why I did this and why it took me so long to get through seemingly "simple" texts. But I realize now I was studying how writers wrote, how they made me feel what I was feeling as I read. Two of my favorite books from that period are The Selfish Giant by Oscar Wilde and The Little Match Girl by Hans Christian Andersen. 

Your top five authors:

James Baldwin, Carson McCullers, Raymond Carver, Audre Lorde and Edwidge Danticat. 

Book you've faked reading:

I don't think I've faked reading any books but I've definitely not finished the ones that didn't feel worth finishing. I'm not one of those people who can push past the boring or overly written parts. The writer loses me if I'm not completely engaged. But I don't lie about it.

Book you're an evangelist for: 

As a kid, I was an evangelist for the Bible--but that's probably because my family was religious. I haven't revisited that book since young adulthood but do remember some good stories in there. Recently, I read David Benioff's City of Thieves and was completely blown away. I plan to read it again... and again. 

Book you've bought for the cover: 

A few--and was bummed each time. 

Book that changed your life: 

The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde. It taught me a lot about living and writing. 

Favorite line from a book: 

"These August afternoons--when your shift is finished, there is absolutely nothing to do. You might as well walk down to the Forks Falls Highway and listen to the chain gang." --This is slightly different than it appears in the book, The Ballad of the Sad Café. It comes from a recording I have of McCullers reading from her work. She changes it a bit and her soft, Southern drawl is one not heard anymore unless you have older relatives from the South. I've read the book so many times but can listen to her read from it all day long. 

Book you most want to read again for the first time:

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred Taylor.


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