There's a recurring theme in Jacqueline Woodson's books. It is somewhere that pierces your heart, halfway between a song of longing and a cry out in the wilderness. (I am reminded of a Jamaican traditional religious song that I sang with the Heritage Singers, "Me alone, me alone inna de wildaness.") I noticed it after reading Peace, Locomotion. It was a familiar rhythm that reminded me of her other books-- the shared love of Tupac music and grief at his death, the memory of family lost in Hurricane Katrina, separation of grandparents and the ways Down South. Locomotion is a child in foster care who has lost both of his parents. He is placed in a home away from his sister and judging from his regular letters and the way he pours his heart out in them, he misses her, their parents, and the family that once was... yet quietly he learns that he can't go back in time and his pain is palpable. After reading this middle grade novel, I realized that possibly, just maybe, I read the second book in the Locomotion series. (Darn! I like to read things in the proper order. Oh, well.) Yet, I was able to make the connections and figure out the main events of Locomotion's life all the same. I would have loved to ask Jacqueline why does this theme of longing/loss/separation/absence show up so frequently in her books and how does it resonate with her young readers. These are questions I hope to ask her in person when I get to attend "Between the Lines: Renee Watson and Jacqueline Woodson" at the Schomburg Center in Harlem this Wednesday, March 18, 2015. (Is that the sort of thing you would ask a writer like Jacqueline? Are those questions too obvious? Thinking aloud moment.) I also look forward to listening to Renee Watson. Her essay "Black Like Me" for the Fall 2014 edition of Rethinking Schools magazine really resonated with me so I naturally checked out her other work like Harlem's Little Black Bird: The Story of Florence Mills, a picture book. I love to let writers know what I think about their work and was pleased to learn that Renee is great with responding to tweets (even from little ol' me). I am looking forward to hearing these authors live, learning from their wisdom, and enriching my own work, as well as reconnecting and meeting with some writer friends in just two days.