Woodson, J. (2009). Peace, Locomotion. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.
This sequel to Locomotion continues Lonnie’s story in the form of letters to his little sister (instead of as poems—although these letters certainly have a poetic feel, and a few poems are included throughout the narrative). Lonnie is about to turn twelve. He is still living with his foster mother Miss Edna and separated from his sister, Lili. He hopes to someday be reunited with his sister, but in the mean time, he’ll keep writing letters so he can share the stories of their time apart.
Lonnie is dealing with some new tensions. The year before, he had a teacher who supported his writing this year’s teacher isn’t nearly as kind. While Lonnie attempts to maintain confidence in his writing, he must also deal with his low math scores.
Plus, one of Miss Edna’s biological sons is missing in the war. Through this, Peace, Locomotion indirectly shares many of the consequences of war.
As with Locomotion (which I reviewed here), Lonnie is still struggling with the way his family has changed since that awful night in December a few years ago. With the help of one of his friends from school, he begins to realize there are many types of family.
Reading this book, I was even more impressed with Lonnie as a character than I had been with Locomotion. He feels very authentic and loving. I can't think of many other characters that I have felt as much compassion for.
Activities to do with the book:
After sharing Peace, Locomotion with students, a teacher could encourage students to make journal entries in an epistolary format or actually form friendships with pen pals in another school, state or country.
The book could open up discussion on foster homes, the loss of parents, sickle cell anemia, the Iraq war (or other wars), funding for education, etc.
“As you know, in a few days I’m going to be twelve. That means two things:
1. In six weeks, you’ll be nine.
2. In nine more years, I’ll be twenty-one and then I’ll be old enough to take care of you by myself. And when I’m twenty-one and you’re eighteen, I’ll still be your big brother and kind of like the boss of you. But I won’t be mean. And if you want, we can keep living in Brooklyn” (p. 3).
“Every day, the memories get a little bit more faded out of my head and I try to pull them back. It’s like they used to be all colorful and loud and everything. They’re getting grayer though. And sometimes even the ones that used to be loud get real, real quiet.
Lili, do you remember? There was a time when all of us were together. There was a time before the fire and before nobody wanted to be my foster mama until Miss Edna came along. There was a time before your foster mama came and said, “I’ll take the little girl but I don’t want no boys.” You were the little girl, Lili. And you didn’t want to go” (p. 7).