Lonnie C. Motion, aka Locomotion, became an orphan when his parents perished in a house fire. Lonnie and his younger sister survived but were separated into different homes afterward. Told through a series of Lonnie’s poems assigned by his teacher, we learn all about the tender-hearted Lonnie and his sweet sister in Locomotion.
Through Lonnie’s optimistic and honest perspective, we glimpse the heart of an honest child making his way through a world that seems set against him, not in obvious or purposeful ways, but in all the subtle ways that can tear a child apart. And Lonnie knows what he’s up against, “…alotta those people are white. Maybe it’s that if you’re white you can’t see all the whiteness around you” (p13). But Lonnie is strong. He affects those who would wish him absent (his sister’s new ‘mother’) or silent (his ‘mother,’ Miss Edna), changing them for the better, and sees straight through those with evil intent (the drug store guards who are suspicious of him because he is black, p 7). He clings to those who build him up: his sister and his teacher. Locomotion was a National Book Award Finalist and a Coretta Scott King Honor winner.
In Peace, Locomotion, Lonnie writes to his sister. He doesn’t send the letters, but writes them “because I love writing and I love you and when me and you are together again, I’m gonna want us to remember everything that happened when we were living apart” (p 8). Just wonderful writing. Genuine, insightful, and beautifully optimistic even when dealing with the horrors of war, loss, and separation. A Printz Award nominee that could go the distance.
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