Reading for Change: Locomotion (week 1)

Gush, gush. 

My inner poet screams when I read the words of Jacqueline Woodson. It screamed last year with Brown Girl Dreamingand it screamed last week with Locomotionand it screamed two days later when I read the follow-up to the first, Peace, Locomotion

Now, hear me out: but for her newest read, Woodson is a children’s writer. Should you choose to read them as intended – aloud, as a piece of poetry – they might take you a couple of hours to get through; but if you just read them, it only takes the average reader a little over an hour to devour (or so says the reading tracker on Kindle).

Regardless, this time around, Woodson weaves the story of a young boy, Locomotion (short for Lonnie Collins Motion), who lost his parents in a fire, and finds himself in the New York state foster system. He misses his sister, who’s with another family, but as he begins to lean into life with his new mama and older brothers, he comes to life through poetry. 

Writers, after all, write about what they know – and Jacqueline Woodson knows poetry. I can see this being the perfect fit for a poetry unit in a middle grade classroom, but it’s also a cozy winter read.

Whatever it is for you, I’ve got three favorite lines of poetry for you:

Writing makes me remember.
It’s like my whole family comes back again
when I write. All of them right
here like somebody pushed the Rewind button

Was it a big sacrifice to give up your life
if you knew you was gonna rise back up?
I mean, isn’t that like just taking a nap?

This day is already putting all kinds of words
in your head
and breaking them up into lines
and making the lines into pictures in your mind
And in the pictures the people are
laughing and frowning and
eating and reading and
playing ball and skipping along and…

spinning themselves into poetry.

Like I said, gush, gush. Just as we all need to slow down with a little bit of poetry in our lives, we all need a little bit of Jacqueline Woodson’s storytelling ways in our lives.

Pick up Locomotion if you haven’t already. Give it a quick read-aloud and see if the kid in you comes alive once again.

Otherwise, whether you’re a blogger or a reader, leave a comment (with link to your review) in the section below. I can’t wait to read your thoughts! Up next week: The Death of RaceAnd people, it’s phenomenal.

Happy reading!

So, what’d you think? Locomotion: like it, love it, want some more of it? 

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The Comfort of Saying Hello

space-needle-1509141_1280We moved on Friday, as most of you know. We flew north on a helicopter (which wasn’t technically a helicopter, but was actually more airplane-like in substance – but don’t break my two-year-old’s heart by telling him the truth). And, lucky for me, we’re starting to say our hellos.

Many of you have asked me how I’m doing, and while I’ll be mostly be taking a break from writing and speaking until January, I did ink out a few thoughts for the Mudroom yesterday. Click here to read the entire story, or check out a few of my thoughts below…

There’s comfort in saying hello.

You see, lately, my life has felt marked by a slew of goodbyes. A couple of months ago, my husband was offered an incredible job promotion nine hundred miles away. As commuting hundreds of miles a day isn’t for the faint of heart – and because I can take care of my babies and write and speak from anywhere – we said yes.

So, we said yes to an interstate move from Oakland, California to Seattle, Washington. We said yes to new opportunities. We said yes to new adventures and yes to a new church and yes to returning to my roots, as I grew up in the Pacific Northwest, and most of my immediate family and many old friends already live here.

But as good as all the yeses looked on paper, I didn’t anticipate the noes that would come along with it – just as I didn’t anticipate how hard saying goodbye would be to my insides.

Because, moving, man: it’s brutal. It’s a leaving, a divorce, a death of what was. Your heart resides in one place while your body lives in another.

“What is love?” I asked my four-year-old son last night.

“Love is sad,” he replied. I looked at him, not knowing what to say in return. Love is sad? What have his preschool teachers been teaching him? What have we been teaching him? Love is a happy thing! Exclamation points all around! Puppies and rainbows and glitter are sprinkled into our sentences when it comes to love, and our hearts are prompted to smile upwards with delight.

But I also knew that small humans are also a whole lot smarter than we big humans sometimes give them credit for. I also knew that he might have something to teach me in that moment.

“Why is love sad, buddy?”

“Love is sad because I miss people in Oakland.”

Such a cliff-hanger! Head on over to the Mudroom and read the rest of the story. Otherwise, might we all find and see Peace, even in the midst of uprootedness.

xo, c.

So, moving, transitions, change: what is it for you? How do you handle it? What do you vow to do? How do you seek and find and see Peace?

peace – indeed, indeed.


Merry Christmas, friendlies.

Thank you for being a part of all the wonder of the past year – we’ll be laying low for the next week or two here at be, mama. be, because we need to make soups and roast garlic and devour cookies and sip bubbly cocktails.  Oh, and sing the praises of the Baby-King, and love our family and friends well, and hang out in our pj’s all day until we realize it’s closer to that night’s bedtime than the one before …so why change now?

So, I’ll keep this short and sweet, and instead, let the words of this 16th century German hymn send us home:

Lo, how a Rose e’er blooming 
from tender stem hath sprung!
Of Jesse’s lineage coming,
as men of old have sung.
It came, a floweret bright,
amid the cold of winter,
When half spent was the night.

Might you see and sense and be enveloped by the Floweret Bright.

Peace (indeed, indeed),