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Angela Johnson: Criticism and Reviews

Angela Johnson and her work is described by Lynelle Kowalski of the University of Omaha.

Heaven is reviewed by Publishers Weekly, Booklist, and others.

African American Literature Book Club features a biography of Angela Johnson and reviews of several of her books.

CBS News has a report on the winners of the MacArthur Foundation's "genius grants," among them is Angela Johnson, who talks about themes in her work.

The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books reviews Johnson's writing style.

The Beacon Journal reviews themes in Johnson's novels in an article about the "genius grant" awards.

Visiting Authors features a biography of Angela Johnson and reviews of several of her books.

Reading Online reviews the imagery and emotion in Gone from Home: Short Takes.

Additional criticism and review of Angela Johnson's works can be found at your local public library.

The following reviews can be accessed online only by an individual who has a current library card through this address.

Looking for Red.
Review by Claire Rosser.
Kliatt, November 2003 v37 i6 p16(1).

"To quote from the review of the hardcover in Kliatt, May 2002: Author of Toning the Sweep and Heaven, two Coretta Scott King Award winners about difficult family transitions, Johnson turns to the subject of grief in Looking for Red…"

I Dream of Trains.
Publishers Weekly, October 20, 2003 v250 i42 p53(2).

"MacArthur Award winner Johnson (Heaven; Toning the Sweep) pens a reverie as piercing and poignant as the long cry of a train whistle against debut artist Long's breathtaking backdrops…"

A Cool Moonlight.
Publishers Weekly, October 20, 2003 v250 i42 p55(1).

"Johnson (I Dream of Trains) raises intriguing themes of the supernatural, the lure of nighttime and the heroine's yearning for the sun, but despite her lyrical language, fantasy and reality elements sit uneasily together in her latest novel…"

A Cool Moonlight.
Review by Carolyn Phelan.
Booklist, October 1, 2003 v100 i3 p324(1).

"Lila has a rare medical condition: sunlight and certain kinds of artificial light can burn her skin and even blind her. Relatively isolated at home during the day, taken out by her loving parents and older sister at night, she has few friends but a rich fantasy life…"

A Cool Moonlight.
Review by Joanna Rudge Long.
The Horn Book Magazine, September-October 2003 v79 i5 p611(2).

"Lila lives by night. Yearning for a sun she must never see, she snacks on 'sun-kissed' raisins and treasures a 'sun bag' of things she imagines can transport her to a sunlit beach…"

The First Part Last.
Review by Hazel Rochman.
Booklist, September 1, 2003 v100 i1 p122(1).

"Bobby, the teenage artist and single-parent dad in Johnson's Coretta Scott King Award winner, Heaven (1998), tells his story here. At 16, he's scared to be raising his baby, Feather, but he's totally devoted to caring for her, even as…"

The First Part Last.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 2003 v71 i11 p805(1).

"'The rules: If she hollers, she is mine. If she needs to be changed, she is always mine. In the dictionary next to "sitter," there is not a picture of Grandma. It's time to grow up. Too late, you're out of time. Be a grown-up.'"

Running Back to the Ludie.
Review by GraceAnne A. DeCandido.
Booklist, January 1, 2002 p858(1).

"With an economy of story line and a precise lyricism, Johnson tells a whole and entire tale in a series of poems, as she did in The Other Side (1998). The teen narrator, who doesn't give her own name, traces…"

Gone From Home: Short Take.
Publishers Weekly, December 3, 2001 v248 i49 p63(1).

"'In these 12 well-honed stories, Johnson zeroes in on the idealism and resiliency that make young people a powerful force in the world,' wrote PW. 'Her flavorful language will draw readers immediately into these brief, emotion-packed dramas…'"

Rain Feet.
Review by Henrietta M. Smith.
Booklist, February 15, 2001 v97 i12 p1161.

"Dressed in a bright yellow raincoat and matching boots and carrying a shiny yellow umbrella, a young boy splashes to the corner of his rain-sodden street. What fun he has as…"

When Mules Flew on Magnolia Street.
Review by Denise Wilms.
Booklist, January 1, 2001 p960.

"Magnolia Street once again takes center stage in this easygoing, episodic story of Charlie and her friends, whose lives revolve around the everyday neighborhood occurrences that keep life there interesting…"

Down the Winding Road.
Review by Michael Cart.
Booklist, February 15, 2000 v96 i12 p1118.

"Every year on the last day of summer vacation the family drives down a winding road into the country to visit the Old Ones, the seven elderly aunts and uncles who raised Daddy…"

The Wedding.
Publishers Weekly, March 22, 1999 v246 i12 p91(1).

"Here comes the bride -- and her younger sister, the flower girl, who offers a glimpse of what it's like to prepare for and participate in a family wedding…"

Maniac Monkeys on Magnolia Street.
Review by Helen Rosenberg.
Booklist, January 1, 1999 v95 i9-10 p878(1).

"When Charlene (aka Charlie) first moves to Magnolia Street, she is apprehensive. There seem to be no kids around, and her brother claims they have all been stolen by the maniac monkeys that inhabit the willow trees on the street. But Charlie, full of spunk, immediately…"

The Other Side: Shorter Poems.
Review by Nancy Vasilakis.
The Horn Book Magazine, November 1998 p750(1).

"The razing of her hometown provides Johnson with the opportunity to revisit her childhood in this intriguing collection. Strung together into a singular narrative with a consistent, first-person voice, the poems draw a picture of growing up in Shorter, Alabama -- the subtitle referring not only to the length of the individual verses, but to their subject…"

Maniac Monkeys on Magnolia Street.
Publishers Weekly, Nov 23, 1998 p67(1).

"Johnson (Toning the Sweep) once again evokes a strong sense of place with this breezy, slice-of-life chapter book. Loosely structuring the volume as a series of vignettes, the author recounts a child's exploration of her new neighborhood…"

Gone from Home: Short Takes.
Review by Hazel Rochman.
Booklist, August 1998 v94 n22 p1990(1).

"These 12 touching vignettes are about outsiders: children and adults who are literally outside without shelter and also those who have comfortable suburban homes but don't fit in there…"

Songs of Faith.
Review by Susan Dove Lempke.
Booklist, Feb 15, 1998 v94 n12 p1008(1).

"It is 1975 in Harvey, Ohio, a town that Doreen's mother says is becoming full of newly divorced women and their kids. Mama Dot claims that kids don't get divorced, but Doreen knows better…"

Daddy Calls Me Man.
Review by Denia Hester.
Booklist, October 15, 1997 v94 n4 p415(1).

"For a young boy, life inspires art, and art inspires life, as evidenced by four short verses describing his family experiences and his parents' artwork. Using a spare but descriptive palette, a preschooler marvels at…"

The Aunt in Our House.
Review by Hazel Rochman.
Booklist, March 1, 1996 v92 n13 p1189(1).

"A small boy and his sister like when Daddy's adult sister comes to live with them. The aunt (who's white) finds a place in this happy biracial family: she plays the trumpet and gives the boy and girl lessons…"

The Aunt in Our House.
Publishers Weekly, February 26, 1996 v243 n9 p105(1).

"Johnson's (Julius; Toning the Sweep) cryptic tale suggests questions, then leaves it wholly to the reader to answer them. Told by the older of two siblings who live with their white father and African American mother, the story opens on…"

Shoes Like Miss Alice's.
Review by Ilene Cooper.
Booklist, March 15, 1995 v91 n14 p1334(1).

"In a story with a plot that's not unfamiliar but has lots of heart, Sara isn't too pleased about her new baby-sitter, Miss Alice. But Miss Alice has a few tricks up her sleeve -- and several pairs of shoes on her feet…"

Humming Whispers.
Publishers Weekly, January 23, 1995 v242 n4 p71(1).

"No one knows when the whispers will start -- not Nicole, who is twenty-five, beautiful and schizophrenic; not Aunt Shirley, whose calm patience is a way of saying 'Live with it'; and especially not Sophy, who is unable to prevent her sister's sudden descents and who is painfully aware that she is now the same age -- fourteen -- that Nikki was when the voices began…"

Toning the Sweep.
Publishers Weekly, May 3, 1993 v240 n18 p310(1).

"With several picture books already to her credit, Johnson (When I Am Old with You) makes, an especially promising foray into YA fiction with this thoughtfully nuanced and penetrating novel…"

The Leaving Morning.
Publishers Weekly, August 17, 1992 v239 n37 p498(2).

"The bittersweet feelings that accompany the move from a familiar home to a new one are portrayed with a gentle hand in the latest offering from the creators of When I Am Old with You and One of Three…"

When I Am Old with You.
Publishers Weekly, July 27, 1990 v237 n30 p232(1).

"'When I am old with you, Grandaddy,' says a small black child, 'I will sit in a big rocking chair beside you and talk about everything.' And he does, rushing and tripping through all the activities they share -- walking on the beach, riding the tractor, visiting friends…"

Do Like Kyla.
Review by Diane Roback.
Publishers Weekly, March 16, 1990 v237 n11 p68(1).

"Johnson's (Tell Me a Story, Mama) newest picture book is a memorable account of two sisters' growing up together and their mutual expressions of fondness. Foremost in the mind of the younger is wanting to be like her big sister Kyla; without a doubt, Kyla is the most important person in her life…"

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