picture © 2011, Sharron McElmeel
Issues dealt with, in books for young readers, aren't necessarily "tough issues" -- it's all how the issue is framed in our thoughts.
Jacqueline Woodson is the author of many novels and picture books, including the 2008 Newbery Honor book, Feathers; and the 2009 Newbery Honor book, After Tupac and D Foster.
Feathers is a book of hope and written for middle grade readers. The story takes place in 1970, and begins when one boy walks into a classroom and realizes he is very different from the other students there. More about Woodson's middle grade novels are on her middle grade page on her website.
After Tupac and D Foster is a book for young adult readers and focuses on what others might describe as "tough issues." But Woodson is writing a story about young people moving from age 11 to 13 -- and the issues may be tough but it is their life. Read about this book and her other YA novels on her website's YA page.
But without doubt, my favorite book by Woodson is her picture book, The Other Side. Not only is the narrative exceptional but the illustrations by E.B. Lewis make a perfect complement to her words. Two girls, Clover and Annie, are instructed by their parent not to go on the other side of the fence—the girls don't but they manage to come together, ON the fence. A perfect tribute to the creativity of children in combating segregation. In my art gallery I have a framed print of the "fence" illustration from this book. That print will no doubt keep the book as a favorite for a very long time.
It was a pleasure to meet Jacqueline Woodson, hear her speak, and to talk to her — such a writer.
Read more about Jacqueline Woodson on her website.