Nancy Keane's Booktalks -- Quick and Simple

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Woodson, Jacqueline
New York : G.P. Putnam's Sons, 2000
IL 5-8, RL 5.3
ISBN 0399231137

3 booktalks

Booktalk #1

Death all too often claims the lives of parents leaving behind children to cope and often experience feelings of guilt for things they could have done. In Miracle’s Boys by Jacqueline Woodson, Tyree, Charlie, and Lafayette come to terms with the death of not one, but both parents. Their father died as the result of trying to rescue a lady and her dog, both had fallen into a frozen lake. Tyree stood by and watched in horror. It was he who had insisted that his father try and save the dog. Time passed and things became financially difficult for a mother with three sons.

                    Charlie wants to take his mother back to her homeland of Bayamon. He needs cash so he robs a nearby store. Charlie is sent to a juvenile home for two years. While he is away Lafayette wakens one morning to find his diabetic mother unconscious from insulin shock. At first he thinks she is just sleeping in late. When he realizes what is wrong, he calls for help. But did he wait too long?

                    Tyree now has to sacrifice a full scholarship to MIT in order to work and support Lafayette. Charlie comes home after serving his sentence and blames Lafayette for the death of their mother. Not knowing any other way to handle his anger, he slips deeper into a life of crime and violence. Lafayette spends the majority of his time dreaming of his mother and talking to her ghost.

                    Can these three brothers ever repair their strained relationship? Find out in Miracle's Boys.  (Teresa Reid,

Booktalk #2

If their parents hadn't died, if Charlie hadn't robbed the candy store and been busted and sent to Rahway Correctional, Ty’ree could have gone to college.  Instead Ty’ree works to support his brothers. Now Charlie has come home and he is changed, a very different man.  Where is the Charlie who was compassionate and cared for the hurt things?  Why does he hate Lafayette so much?  How are the three boys going to survive in a world that seems so hostile?  (Jean Bellavance for Pennsylvania Young Reader's Choice Awards, 2003)

Booktalk #3

                    13 year-old Lafayette is confused. He is confused by the way his brother Charlie has been acting ever since he got home from Rahway Home for Boys. Surely there is some good deep down in this brother he now calls ”Newcharlie” because he seems so different. Charlie was sent there for his role in an armed robbery. That was a few years ago, 2 months before their mother died suddenly. Lafayette misses his mom very much. She raised him, Charlie and their older brother Ty’ree after their father died in a tragic accident. She was their rock; she kept all 3 boys in line with her love and determination. Now what will happen to them? Ty’ree was the brain in the family, destined to go to college. Instead he traded in a scholarship to MIT to stay and be a father to Charlie and Lafayette, only Newcharlie keeps messing up and Lafayette can’t get past his grief to help Newcharlie work through his anger. Can the boys find a way to stay together?

                    Professional Notes: A great book for middle school boys, it isn’t graphic or preachy and Woodson proves adept at writing to include today’s dialect and slang. It provides a realistic look at the problems facing inner city kids.  (Barbara Stewart Zinkovich,, student USC)

SUBJECTS:     Brothers -- Fiction.
                        Family problems -- Fiction.
                        Orphans -- Fiction.
                        Racially mixed people -- Fiction.


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