Speak
Penguin Group (USA)

January 2010

$7.99 US

102p pb

ISBN: 978-0142415528

fp January 2003


followed by Peace, Locomotion

Locomotion

Jacqueline Woodson

from the book...

Not a lot of people

want boys.

Not foster boys

that ain't babies...

Lonnie's life changed forever when his parents died. Now it's changing again. Suddenly there's a new way to tell the world about his life. But he has to hold on.

A moving, lyrical novel from award-winning Jacqueline Woodson.

If you have read this verse novel and would like to share your opinion of it with other readers please send your review or comments to YARR-A


Locomotion by Jacqueline Wilson is a poignant and lyrical verse novel about a young boy who has lost his family and is now living as a foster child with Miss Edna and separated from his younger sister Lili. The young boy, Lonnie C Motion (‘Locomotion’) writes poetry as a way to hold on to his life, remember his past and move forward. He writes using a range of poetry forms which detail his feelings, his home and school life, the advent of a new country boy to his poor inner city school and his relationship with his sister whom he sees on occasion.

This is a short and affecting novel which cannot but touch the reader. Lonnie’s young and innocent voice is sure to move you. Much recommended.

Bea, Adelaide, Australia


Locomotion is an ingenious lyrical novel by Jacqueline Woodson, delving into the mind (and writing style) of an 11-year old orphaned boy named Lonnie Collins Motion, whose parents were killed in a fire. Lonnie (nicknamed ‘Locomotion’ by his late parents) is then taken in by a foster ‘parent’, Miss Edna, although she seems more like a dormitory keeper. Lonnie is confused by her actions (telling him to be quiet, then to make noise once he finally obeyed the first command), as well as the world around him (being in denial of his parents’ death, dealing with English class, and the like.)

This confusion is brought forth ever so subtly in the way the book is written. The writing style evolves as Lonnie learns stuff on a day-to-day basis – what starts off as normal paragraph-style writing soon turns into something with bad punctuation, rhythm and grammar, and excessive line breaks then into something more coherent, and finally into a firm, sometimes rhyming, well-written poem. This is easily the best attempt at ‘delving into the characters’ minds’ I’ve ever seen, as while other perspective novels include slang usage and the like, Locomotion uses a realistic writing style rather than making some street punk kid able to write perfectly.

Caleb, Year 10, Canberra, Australia

Locomotion is the story of a young African-American boy named Lonnie. His life is forever changed after the death of his parents in a fire, and the resulting separation of him and his sister to different foster homes. It follows every aspect of his life, from the relationship with his foster mother, his love for his sister, and his progress in school; where his love and ability for poetry is shown.

This book has a varied format, covering every aspect of verse, from Haiku to free verse, and this makes the book more interesting to read; seeing how a story can be expressed in so many different ways is what makes this book a class above most verse novels. This novel is not a long read, yet it says all it really needs to. The amount of detail is enough to leave you satisfied with the plot, yet you still want to turn the page. This is a great book for a 13 or so year old, yet it can be enjoyable for anyone older than this. I definitely recommend this book to fans of the genre, as it is a fantastic example of the versatility possible.

Liam, Year 10, Canberra, Australia

Locomotion by Jacqueline Woods is a moving story of a young boy and how he comes to terms with the changes that take place in his life.

As the result of a terrible house fire, Lonnie C Motion (nicknamed Locomotion) loses his parents, and both he and his younger sister Lilie are left alone. Lonnie’s relatives refuse to take care of him and Lillie, so the two of them have no choice but to be placed into a foster home. Unfortunately, they are placed under the care of different foster parents and once again, Lonnie is separated from a loved one. Even though Lonnie visits his sister occasionally, he cannot move on from the unfortunate changes that have taken place in his life, and describes his seemingly dull life - with very few exciting events - through poetry in the form of verse and prose.

Set in the suburbs of America, Locomotion mainly revolves around a young boy’s understanding of life, changes, not fitting in, and life finally getting better. I liked this novel mainly because it was very realistic and although it did not end with everything being perfect for Lonnie, it did end on a happy note.

I think this novel was well-written and would be enjoyed by anyone who likes a quick and easy read.

Laraib, Year 10, Canberra, Australia


Locomotion is a poetic verse novel set in the present time. It’s about a young African-American boy named Lonnie who loses his parents in a house fire at the age of seven. His life changes forever after he is placed in a foster home separated from his little sister Lily. Ms Edna takes Lonnie in as a foster child and Lonnie struggles to live through his days, until he meets a teacher named Ms Marcus who introduced poetry to him. He found a new way of expressing his feelings towards the world. Meanwhile his sister Lily is placed in another foster home. Both of them have hardly any opportunities to see each other and they believe that maybe one day God will reunite them together. Will they end up living together again as a happy family?

The book Locomotion is full of feelings and it shows you how it would feel if you lost all your family members through tragic accidents or you’re forced to move away from them. I thought the book was fairly interesting and simple to understand. If I had to rate it, I’d give it a 6/10 and I think that people who like simple and imaginative books would enjoy reading this book.

Sherman, Year 8, Canberra, Australia

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