“Hope is the thing with feathers.” Frannie becomes enamored with this section of a poem by Emily Dickinson that her 6th grade class reads. Many things going on around her cause her to ponder about hope. A mysterious new boy joins her class. It’s 1971 and her school is all African Americans, so the white boy seems very different. He’s skinny with pale white skin and long hair. He has a quiet, calm nature but also seems sad. Eager to put a label on their confusion, the kids begin calling him “Jesus boy.” Frannie’s best friend believes he really is Jesus. Frannie is confused by the boy continuing to deny that he is white. In addition to this mystery, Frannie’s mom has some news that brings back some sadness from their past. Will they be able to move past it and be hopeful again?
For such a thin book, there is a lot going on inside of this treasure. I felt like it took on a life of its own. The flow and rhythm is beautiful. There are many great issues for discussion (several types of prejudice and bully issues), but the book doesn’t feel heavy at all. It’s light and the quiet moments are the most memorable. It’s a real joy. I can see why it is a Newbery Honor book.