Finding Langston
Finding Langston
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Annotation: Discovering a book of Langston Hughes' poetry in the library helps Langston cope with the loss of his mother, relocating from Alabama to Chicago as part of the Great Migration, and being bullied.
Catalog Number: #167379
Format: Publisher's Hardcover
All Formats: Search
Publisher: Holiday House
Copyright Date: 2018
Edition Date: 2018
Pages: 107 pages
Availability: Available
ISBN: 0-8234-3960-7
ISBN 13: 978-0-8234-3960-7
Dewey: Fic
LCCN: 2017030385
Dimensions: 22 cm.
Language: English
Reviews:
Horn Book
In 1940s Chicago, recent Southern transplant Langston discovers Langston Hughes's poetry at the public library. Reading poetry helps the boy keep his late mother's memory alive, find solace from grief, and make a friend. Written in short chapters, this crisply paced book is full of historical details of the Great Migration and African American literary culture, and should resonate with any child who's experienced grief or loneliness.
School Library Journal Starred Review
Gr 25 It's 1946 and 11-year-old Langston, named after Langston Hughes, has just moved from Alabama to Chicago with his father following the death of his mother. Langston feels isolated and is bullied at school, and every day he misses Alabama: the dirt roads, his Grandma and her cooking, and the sound of Mama's voice. When Langston accidentally stumbles into the public library to ask for directions, he realizes that, unlike in Alabama, black people are allowed in the library, and portraits of esteemed black literary figures hang on the walls. Langston secretly visits the library daily and is pulled into the poetry of Langston Hughes, discovering his namesake. As the bullying at school intensifies and tragedy strikes his family, Langston finds solace with his neighbor, Miss Fulton, who reads Hughes's poetry out loud to him in the evenings. Cline-Ransome presents a stunning story of a boy during the Great Migration who finds his longing for the South and his father's fondness for the blues reflected in Hughes's poetry. Langston's observations about the world are astute, whether it's his realization of the burdens his father carries or how men on the street look at women. Readers who have struggled with grief, identity, racism, bullying, or loneliness will find their experiences reflected in this beautifully written novel, which has a satisfying, but not-too-tidy ending. VERDICT Cline-Ransome's novel is an engaging, quick, and relatable read that skillfully incorporates themes of race, class, post-war American life in the North and South, and a bit of Langston Hughes' poetry. This is a story that will stay with readers long after they've finished it. A first purchase for all libraries. Liz Anderson, DC Public Library
Starred Review ALA Booklist
*Starred Review* Langston wishes he was back in Alabama. The 11-year-old's mother was barely dead and buried before his father moved them to Chicago, where, in 1946, "a man can provide for his family without always scraping and bowing." But to Langston, Chicago is loneliness and lacking friends, family, or good food, just his dad's bad cooking. Three bullies make life even harder. Then he discovers something that amazes him: a public library, and it's not just for whites like the one back home. This branch library not only welcomes African Americans, it celebrates successful black men and women, especially writers. The library becomes Langston's everything s space away from his tiny apartment, his refuge from the bullies, the expansion of his world through books. It is also the place where he finds his namesake, Langston Hughes, and begins to find himself. Cline-Ransome, lauded for her picture books, including Booklist's 2017 Top of the List title Before She Was Harriet, proves herself an adept novelist, one with keen insight into the human condition. Every character, child and adult, is layered, a feat made more remarkable by the fact that the writing is spare. Emotions and relationships are teased out through quiet details and glimmers of understanding, but the impact on the reader could not be more powerful. A memorable debut novel.
Word Count: 22,936
Reading Level: 4.5
Interest Level: 3-6
Accelerated Reader: reading level: 4.5 / points: 3.0 / quiz: 195865 / grade: Middle Grades
Reading Counts!: reading level:4.6 / points:7.0 / quiz:Q74913
Lexile: 760L

A Coretta Scott King Honor Book

A Kirkus Reviews Best Book of the Year, with 5 Starred Reviews, and a School Library Journal Best Book of 2018

When eleven-year-old Langston's father moves them from their home in Alabama to Chicago's Bronzeville district, it feels like he's giving up everything he loves.


It's 1946. Langston's mother has just died, and now they're leaving the rest of his family and friends. He misses everything-- Grandma's Sunday suppers, the red dirt roads, and the magnolia trees his mother loved.

In the city, they live in a small apartment surrounded by noise and chaos. It doesn't feel like a new start, or a better life. At home he's lonely, his father always busy at work; at school he's bullied for being a country boy.

But Langston's new home has one fantastic thing. Unlike the whites-only library in Alabama, the Chicago Public Library welcomes everyone. There, hiding out after school, Langston discovers another Langston--a poet whom he learns inspired his mother enough to name her only son after him.

Lesa Cline-Ransome, author of the Coretta Scott King Honor picture book Before She Was Harriet, has crafted a lyrical debut novel about one boy's experiences during the Great Migration. Includes an author's note about the historical context and her research.

Winner of the 2019 Scott O'Dell Award for Historical Fiction
A Junior Library Guild selection!


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