The motion of the ocean, it’s time to discuss “Locomotion” by Jacqueline Woodson, a book I’ve discovered for the first time recently as part of my literacy reading group. It’s a fantastic story with a unique style and format, as it’s written primarily in poetic verse, interspersed with prose and epistle poetry. Lonnie, the main character, showcases his poetic development while simultaneously showing his story and character development. He grows as a character as he learns how to write poetry, and you can see him learn how to write poetry as the story continues, in a meta-textual sense; the poems rise in complexity as the story moves, and the variety of poetic formats increases page by page. I loved reading “Locmotion” for its easy to pick up style and quick pace. Kids love it, too, because the book is split up into dozens of short poems rather than chapters, and this makes it a more enjoyable read. I’ve found it to be a hit with the kids so far. It reminds me of “Carver: A Life in Poems,” which I read as part of my Adolescent Literature course in grad school.
But what’s most striking, to me, about this book is its plot and storyline. The main character, Lonnie, suffers as a result of his parents getting incinerated in a house fire. He lives in a foster home with an overbearing, oppressive foster mother who doesn’t listen to his suggestions. He and his sister live separately, in different foster homes, and rarely see each other. The plot is moving, and it made me reconsider in some ways how I feel about my own family, how nice it is to have people alive. I doubt my life would be the same otherwise.