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Harbor Me
Cover of Harbor Me
Harbor Me
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Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature
Jacqueline Woodson's first middle-grade novel since National Book Award winner Brown Girl Dreaming celebrates the healing that can occur when a group of students share their stories.

It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat—by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for "A Room to Talk"), they discover it's safe to talk about what's bothering them—everything from Esteban's father's deportation and Haley's father's incarceration to Amari's fears of racial profiling and Ashton's adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.
Jacqueline Woodson is the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People's Literature
Jacqueline Woodson's first middle-grade novel since National Book Award winner Brown Girl Dreaming celebrates the healing that can occur when a group of students share their stories.

It all starts when six kids have to meet for a weekly chat—by themselves, with no adults to listen in. There, in the room they soon dub the ARTT Room (short for "A Room to Talk"), they discover it's safe to talk about what's bothering them—everything from Esteban's father's deportation and Haley's father's incarceration to Amari's fears of racial profiling and Ashton's adjustment to his changing family fortunes. When the six are together, they can express the feelings and fears they have to hide from the rest of the world. And together, they can grow braver and more ready for the rest of their lives.
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Excerpts-
  • From the cover Copyright © 2018 Jacqueline Woodson


    4

    If there's one thing I do remember as clear as if it hap­pened an hour ago, it's the afternoon when Ms. Laverne said to us, Put down your pencils and come with me. It was the end of September and we had been taking a spelling test. Esteban had been absent for days, and when he finally returned, Ms. Laverne asked him if he was up to doing some work and he nodded.

    It helps me forget for a little while, he said.

    Forget what?
    Amari asked.

    That nobody knows where they took him. And now we're packing up everything,
    Esteban said. Because if they took him, maybe they're going to take us too.

    I turned back to my test. I didn't want to think about fathers. Mine had been in prison for eight years by then. In the last letter we'd gotten, he said he wasn't sure what would happen with his parole. If he got it, he didn't know exactly when he'd be coming home. I remember zero about living with him. Every good thing that hap­pened had happened with my uncle. I couldn't imagine a different life. Didn't want to imagine it. Not for me. Not for anyone.

    I was stuck on the word holiday. Did it have one l or two? My spelling had always been bad, but in Ms. Laverne's class it didn't matter so much because we were all at different levels in one thing or another. The words you miss just tell me what you don't yet know, Ms. Laverne always said. It says nothing about who you are. For some reason that made me feel better. I was eleven years old. What eleven-year-old didn't know how to spell holliday?

    Put down your pencils and come with me.


    The six of us stood up. Our school uniforms were white shirts and dark blue pants or skirts. We could wear any jackets, shoes and tights we wanted. I had worn blue-and-white-striped tights that day. Holly's tights had red stars on them. When we stood next to each other in the school yard that morning, our stars and stripes echoed the flag waving from the pole above us. We had spent the minutes before the bell rang dancing around it while Holly sang that old song about having a hammer, I'd hammer out danger, I'd hammer out a warning . . .

    We stood next to our desks and waited for Ms. Laverne to tell us what to do next. Amari pulled his hoodie over his head, then quickly pulled it off again, the way he sometimes did when he was nervous. Amari was beauti­ful. His skin was so dark, you could almost see the color blue running beneath it. His eyes were dark too. Dark like there was smoke behind his pupils. Dark and se­rious and . . . infinite. In that fifth/sixth grade class, I didn't know how to say any of this. I wanted only to look at him. And look at him.

    Take a picture, it lasts longer,
    Amari said to me in such a cranky way, it almost brought me to tears. Ashton smirked, then pushed his hair away from his forehead and held his hand there.

    She doesn't want a picture of you,
    Holly said. Bad enough we have to look at you five days a week. She had left her desk and was heading over to the classroom library.

    Holly, back to your desk,
    Ms. Laverne said. I want you all to take your books. You won't be coming back here today.

    We all gathered our stuff and followed her into the hallway.

    Ms. Laverne took out her phone and said, Smile, people. In the photo, Holly and I have our fingers linked together, our tights looking crazier than anything. Amari has his hood halfway on and halfway off, and Tiago, Esteban and Ashton are all looking away from the cam­era. The picture...
About the Author-
  • JACQUELINE WOODSON is the 2014 National Book Award Winner 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. Her recent adult book, Another Brooklyn, was a National Book Award finalist. She is the author of more than two dozen award-winning books for young adults, middle graders and children; among her many accolades, she is a four-time Newbery Honor winner, a three-time National Book Award finalist, and a two-time Coretta Scott King Award winner. Her books include The Other Side, Each Kindness, Caldecott Honor book Coming On Home Soon; Newbery Honor winners Feathers, Show Way, and After Tupac and D Foster; and Miracle's Boys, which received the LA Times Book Prize and the Coretta Scott King Award. Jacqueline is also the recipient of the Margaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement for her contributions to young adult literature, the winner of the Jane Addams Children's Book Award, and was the 2013 United States nominee for the Hans Christian Andersen Award. She lives with her family in Brooklyn, New York.
Reviews-
  • Publisher's Weekly

    Starred review from May 21, 2018
    Woodson (Brown Girl Dreaming) celebrates all that is essential and good for humanity—compassion, understanding, security, and freedom—in this touching novel about six children with special needs. Sixth-grader Haley and her best friend, Holly, don’t know much about their four male classmates when they are placed in a self-contained classroom. They soon discover the things that they do and do not have in common when, on Friday afternoons, their teacher takes them to ARTT (a room to talk). Here, without adult supervision, the class can have conversations about anything. Usually the students use the time to unburden themselves of problems ranging from a parent’s deportation to bullying in the schoolyard. Haley is the last to spill her secrets, about her mother’s death and why her father is in prison, and afterwards she is rewarded with a feeling of lightness, “like so many bricks had been lifted off me,” she says. Woodson’s skills as poet and master storyteller shine brightly here as she economically uses language to express emotion and delve into the hearts of her characters. Showing how America’s political and social issues affect children on a daily basis, this novel will leave an indelible mark on readers’ minds. Ages 10–up.

  • AudioFile Magazine N'Jameh Camara narrates the emotive narrative of biracial Haley, who describes increasingly honest conversations among six classmates along with her own undisclosed truths. In this unique audio, six narrators represent characters in shared dialogues. Toshi Widoff-Woodson, portraying an African-American girl, is defensive and a bit spoiled. Dean Flanagan is reticent Ashton, a bullied white boy. Mikelle Wright-Matos affects a near swagger as Ashton's confident African-American friend, Amari. Jose Carrera's deeper, lightly accented Latinx voice chimes in as Tiago, and Angel Romero is the worried Esteban, whose father has been taken away by ICE. The least strong portrayal is by the author, a fitting representation of the teacher who remains in the background so her students can speak freely. An interview between Woodson and her son, Jackson-Leroi, which serves as an afterword, is honest and powerful. S.W. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award � AudioFile 2018, Portland, Maine
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