February 27, 2015

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Pick of the Day: The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond

The Blossoming Universe of Violet DiamondWoods, Brenda. The Blossoming Universe of Violet Diamond. 240p. Penguin/Nancy Paulsen Bks. 2014. Tr $16.99. ISBN 9780399257148.
Gr 4-6–Violet Diamond’s father died in a car accident two months before her birth, and the 11-year-old has always felt that a piece of her was missing. As the daughter of an AfricanAmerican father and Caucasian mother, she is frustrated with narrow racial assumptions directed at her by those living in her predominantly white neighborhood in Seattle. After eavesdropping on an eye-opening family conversation, Violet digs around and finds out that Roxanne Diamond, the estranged paternal grandmother she’s never met, is having an art exhibition in Seattle, and the resourceful tween vows to meet her. Complex family history renders their first meeting awkward and tense, but Roxanne genuinely wants to be involved in her granddaughter’s life. Violet travels with her grandmother to Los Angeles to meet her father’s relatives and better understand her African American heritage. Violet’s charming quirks, which include nighttime wishing rituals and keeping a mental catalogue of sophisticated vocabulary words, prove endearing. In this quiet story, Woods’s admirably touches upon profound issues related to identity and race and tenderly conveys intergenerational bonds.–Lalitha Nataraj, Escondido Public Library, CA

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