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When Lonnie Collins Motion "Locomotion" was seven years old, his life changed forever. Now he's eleven, and his life is about to change again. His teacher, Ms. Marcus, is showing him ways to put his jumbled feelings on paper. And suddenly, Lonnie has a whole new way to tell the world about his life, his friends, his little sister Lili, and even his foster mom, Miss Edna, who started out crabby but isn’t so bad after all. Jacqueline Woodson’s novel-in-poems is humorous, heartbreaking . . . a triumph.

112 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 2003

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About the author

Jacqueline Woodson

85 books8,395 followers
I used to say I’d be a teacher or a lawyer or a hairdresser when I grew up but even as I said these things, I knew what made me happiest was writing.

I wrote on everything and everywhere. I remember my uncle catching me writing my name in graffiti on the side of a building. (It was not pretty for me when my mother found out.) I wrote on paper bags and my shoes and denim binders. I chalked stories across sidewalks and penciled tiny tales in notebook margins. I loved and still love watching words flower into sentences and sentences blossom into stories.

I also told a lot of stories as a child. Not “Once upon a time” stories but basically, outright lies. I loved lying and getting away with it! There was something about telling the lie-story and seeing your friends’ eyes grow wide with wonder. Of course I got in trouble for lying but I didn’t stop until fifth grade.

That year, I wrote a story and my teacher said “This is really good.” Before that I had written a poem about Martin Luther King that was, I guess, so good no one believed I wrote it. After lots of brouhaha, it was believed finally that I had indeed penned the poem which went on to win me a Scrabble game and local acclaim. So by the time the story rolled around and the words “This is really good” came out of the otherwise down-turned lips of my fifth grade teacher, I was well on my way to understanding that a lie on the page was a whole different animal — one that won you prizes and got surly teachers to smile. A lie on the page meant lots of independent time to create your stories and the freedom to sit hunched over the pages of your notebook without people thinking you were strange.

Lots and lots of books later, I am still surprised when I walk into a bookstore and see my name on a book’s binder. Sometimes, when I’m sitting at my desk for long hours and nothing’s coming to me, I remember my fifth grade teacher, the way her eyes lit up when she said “This is really good.” The way, I — the skinny girl in the back of the classroom who was always getting into trouble for talking or missed homework assignments — sat up a little straighter, folded my hands on the desks, smiled and began to believe in me.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,212 reviews
Profile Image for Melanie  Brinkman.
618 reviews76 followers
May 17, 2020
Words from within contain great wonders.

Life changed forever when Lonnie Collins Motion (a.k.a Locomotion) was seven, and it's about to change again. His teacher shows him a way to put his feelings on paper, and it's a game changer. He finally has a way to talk about the fire, and all the things he couldn't.

Could this be what he needed all along?

A story of loss, lines, and life. A tale of pain and promises, past and present.

Trigger warnings for death of a parent, grief, theft, and cancer.

Numb yet tender, Lonnie was overwhelmed at the upheaval of his present, and loss of his past. His huge heart struggled to process everything, especially not being able to be with his sister. As much as it hurt to see the many feelings jumbled inside the troubled soul, it was equally cathartic to see the way poetry reopened the world to him.

What souls linger in a poet's heart? Through Lonnie's words, we got an abstractly intimate look at the people in his world. His observations of the simplistically, expertly crafted characters brought them to life. You could practically feel how much Miss Edna, Mrs. Marcus, and even the children at school were/were going to change his life.

However, most influential were his family. Separated but together forever in heart, Lonnie's love for them and their's for him breached barriers previously uncrossed in his words. Their warmth, the very details that made them who they were, all described in ways that made my heart ache. But probably the most precious of all was Lonnie's loyalty, sadness, and joy for Lili. These siblings deserved all the hugs.

Words: ways of letting everyone in and everything out. Experimenting with Haikus, Sonnets, Epistles, etc, Locomotion flows before your eyes. Like listening to a friend confide in you, his poetry floors you as it scoops you up in a gentle, hopeful hug. At times confusing before gloriously clear, Jacqueline Woodson's prose captured the voice of a child grieving, lonely, living, and looking towards the future. As much as I loved this, it's unthinkable not to pick up the sequel Peace, Locomotion.

I hope you find yourself in motion to pick up a copy of Locomotion.
Profile Image for Emma.
12 reviews3 followers
December 8, 2012
by Jacquline Woodson

This book I found hidden in the book corner of my Year 5 classroom. The name and cover intrigued me as the title and cover didn’t appear very child friendly or very appealing for a 10 year old. This book is based on the poems of a young orphan Lonnie whose life changed dramatically when his parents died. He and his younger sister were separated and fostered into very different homes on the opposite side of the city.

Lonnie is an angry boy who has become dis-involved with the world and his life. But with the help of a teacher Lonnie finds a way to express his grievances through his poetry. It was from his teacher’s encouragement that he followed his ‘poet’s heart’ and was able to describe life as he knows it.

His poetry is refreshing as it tells a story. At first the topic appears to be random but eventually his life story becomes clearer. His poetry doesn’t always rhyme and he uses slang to express his bewilderment, anger and fear. This is what I think the appeal would be for KYS2 as it isn’t textbook poetry but real story telling in a childlike and straightforward way.

This book would be a good book for independent reading but also poems could be chosen for PSHE, RE and literacy as the poems are reflective and the language is child friendly. As an adult reading it I found it heart warming but for a younger child further reflection and discussion would be appropriate.

Profile Image for Leslie.
288 reviews112 followers
April 8, 2021
I didn't know that reading this book was going to touch my heart the way it has.

This is my first year serving as a poet-in-residence with 4th graders, and their teacher told me that the students would be reading this after spring break, so I decided to read it as well. (Last year I was a poet-in-residence with 2nd graders and this year I have 2nd graders, 4th graders, and 5th graders from three different schools and a broad range of demographics).

I love the seeming ease with which so many dimensions of this eleven-year-old's story are told through the poems in Lonnie -"Locomotion"'s - Poem Book. The discussion questions provided at the back of the book focus on the content of the story, but I also feel that the book is a powerful example of a young person expressing grief, displacement, wonder, care and love, and creative reflection while finding his voice through writing poems.
Profile Image for Catherine Blass.
225 reviews10 followers
May 15, 2017
I found this little treasure tucked away in the Ws at a used bookstore. I haven't yet read Brown Girl Dreaming, but I've wanted to read some of Jacqueline Woodson's work. These poems are simple and searingly beautiful. They made me ache in good and hard ways. Sometimes the best books choose us. Highly recommend.
Profile Image for Cherisa B.
499 reviews40 followers
August 24, 2021
As an advocate for children in the foster care system of Passaic County, NJ, I found this book especially moving. Alternately heartbreaking and hopeful, every page rings true. Lonnie Collins Motion, aka Locomotion, came from a loving family. He shares his memories with us as poems he creates in Ms. Marcus’s English class. His story unfolds in different poetic forms, happy memories of earliest childhood, grievous understanding that he’s become a “throwaway boy” (non-infant, unwanted orphan boy), first day of school for the new boy Clyde, being unwelcome by his little sister’s foster mom, being called little brother by the grown son of Ms. Edna who took him in from the group home, the difference a teacher can make…. all beautifully rendered. By the time we reach the end, we know what happened to break up the family, how Lonnie has come to grips with it, how he has managed to stay in his sister’s life, and his hopes for the future. I deeply loved this book.
Profile Image for Noninuna.
846 reviews35 followers
March 3, 2019
4.5 stars

I flew through this. It's a really easy read because it was told in verses. The story tho, feel like an introduction of a bigger picture. We're introduced to Lonnie, a 11 years old boy who has a little sister called Lili and how a boy who loves poetry deals with everything from school to life itself.

Profile Image for Kelly.
11 reviews
March 9, 2016
"See why I had to make it your name?
Lonnie Collins Motion, Mama would say.
Lo Co Motion
-pg. 21, "How I Got My Name"

Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson tells the story of Lonnie Collins Motion (nicknamed Lo Co Motion by his mother), who at just 11 years old has already gone through some pretty traumatic life experiences. When Lonnie was 7, both of his parents died in a house fire. Not only did Lonnie lose his parents, he also is separated from his younger sister Lili as they are put in separate foster homes. Through his teacher, Ms. Marcus, Lonnie learns how to channel his innermost feelings into poetry. The series of free-verse poems that make up Locomotion allow readers to follow Lonnie as he copes with the loss of his parents, being away from his sister Lili and his new life living with foster mother Miss Edna.

As someone who always found it hard to interpret/write poetry, I was hesitant when I first started reading this book. However, Locomotion is written in a way that proves poetry does not have to be overcomplicated. At just 100 pages, Locomotion is a simple read yet manages to fully capture the raw emotion woven throughout the book's themes of love, loss, family, race and finding your identity in the world. I would recommend this book for late elementary/middle school readers, and believe it would help inspire those students (like me!) who struggled with writing their own poetry.
Profile Image for Brady Roberts.
6 reviews2 followers
April 3, 2019
I think a theme is don't give up. I think this because his parents died but he still has his sister and his friends. His foster mom is also very helpful. By the end of the book, he realizes he is not alone.
42 reviews7 followers
May 14, 2022
A quick read that reminded me of how important adults are in children’s lives.
Profile Image for Megan.
22 reviews
November 6, 2013
This book was well written and kept my attention the whole time. It was an easy read that allowed me to capture the story in about one sitting. The book is about a boy named Lonnie that has been dealt some hard times. His parents died in a fire within their home, and he and his younger sister were sent to live different homes of people that basically adopted them.
In school, Lonnie’s teacher is having them write poetry books. Lonnie fills his poetry book about his life, both currently and in the past when his parents were alive. Through the poems, you understand that Lonnie is still troubled by the death of his parents, and then the discovery of his classmate having a disease. Lonnie is a child that has a difficult time dealing with hardship.
Even though it is hard for Lonnie and his sister, Lilli to be separated, they are able to visit semi often. During these visits, they hope to one day be together. Lilli believes that if they find God, they will be together much sooner.
I very much enjoyed this text and how it was written. It made the whole book come alive as you were caught up in what it felt like, Lonnie’s feelings/emotions at the time, as if he was writing right before your eyes. I think this book would be good for fourth grade and above, especially when beginning a poetry unit. It incorporates a little about different types of poems, as well as that poems can be made about pretty much anything.
27 reviews1 follower
June 10, 2010
Locomotion is the story of Lonnie Collins Motion, whose mother used to call him Locomotion. When he was seven, his life changed forever because his parents died. Now Lonnie is eleven and he's in a different foster home than his sister, and he struggles with his identity and what "home" means to him. His teacher, Ms. Marcus, shows him how to put his feelings on paper when he writes poetry. The book is a collection of poems written by Locomotion in various poetry styles. It would be an excellent book to teach while discussing poetry, because it shows that to write poetry, you just need to take pen to paper and describe something. It shows that poetry doesn't have to rhyme, it doesn't have to be long, and it doesn't have to be glorified.

"You don't just get to write a poem once
You gotta write it over and over and over
until it feels real good to you
And sometimes it does
And sometimes it doesn't
That's what's really great
and really stupid
about poetry." (62)

Students will love discovering poetry with Locomotion. I'd use this book with 6th to 8th or 9th graders, depending on the class.

April 11, 2017
This story is sure to both break and warm your heart. This young boy named Lonnie is stuck with his thoughts with nowhere to put them except paper. His love for his family is incredible. I would definitely recommend this book!
Profile Image for K2.
636 reviews10 followers
June 18, 2018
This is a GoodRead!, especially if you like poetry.
88 reviews
September 9, 2020
This was honestly, in my opinion, the most emotional book I have read so far. The plot has so many twists and turns so I won't do too much spoil elaboration. The main plot is about a brother, Lonnie who was 7 at the time, and a sister, Lilli who was 4 at the time, who lost their parents in a house fire. The children were put into foster care, and then eventually adopted to 2 different families. The story starts 4 years after the fire when Lonnie is 11 and Lilli is 8. Lonnie expresses all his emotions and trauma from the tragic experience through something he loves: poetry. Along the course of Lonnie's journey, Lonnie questions life and the things around him: Why is this like this?...Why is this like this?...and so on. A majority of the way he words things is through poetry. There is a lot of signs about family, love, and meaning throughout the story. Lonnie has a strong love for his little sister, Lilli, but they are always apart because of the fact that they live with 2 different families. Lilli tells Lonnie to find Jesus and they could be together. Although I didn't word this the best, trust me, it's a great book and very easy to read.
Profile Image for Eric.
225 reviews5 followers
December 31, 2019
As I read this book, two tears stood in my eyes. I paused much, and just meditated on the poems I had just read. This is a novel in verse. I believe it was her first dive into this form, and she worked it. The challenge of writing novels-in-verse is to write these poems in the voice of the main character, and even develop the character in each poem. Woodson does a masterful job doing this. What amazed me about this work is its deep pathos. The reader feels what the main character, Lonnie C. Motion, feels---his grief, his hopes, his longings, his redemption. The reader also empathizes with other characters, and their own trials and challenges. This book allows the reader to take childhood seriously in that children have their issues to deal with just like adults. They are worthy to be cared for, nourished, and given the space to flourish. Lastly, Woodson uses Lonnie to inspire all of us to dream, to create, and to reach for our dreams. For Lonnie, it's writing poetry. This book was well-deserving of being a finalist for the National Book Award.
Profile Image for Linda Lipko.
1,904 reviews43 followers
October 12, 2011
WOW! What a wonderful book!!! It is no surprise why this author is the recipient of so many awards, including the Coretta Scott King award, a Newbery Honor medal and the Margaret A. Edwards award for Lifetime Achievement.

This National Book award winning story tenderly, poignantly, wonderfully tells the tale of Lonnie Collins Motion. At seven, life dramatically changed for Lonnie and his little sister when their parents died in a fire. Now, at the age of 12, Lonnie still struggles with the aftermath.

Separated from his sister, Lonnie and Lili are placed in different foster homes.

Through a masterful, insightful teacher, Lonnie learns the power of poetry and the written word. As he puts feelings into words, he is able to unlock the pain and begin a life of hope.

Destined to be one of my top reads of 2011, I highly recommend this one!

Five Stars
Profile Image for Meg.
97 reviews2 followers
February 5, 2017
I always forget how much I enjoy Jacqueline Woodson's book until I'm 15 pages into them. Locomotion was the same. Written in verse, Locomotion is an 11-year-old's story of the loss of his parents, his caring foster mother, and his love for his sister.

What makes this memorable is the authenticity of Locomotion's voice in the poems. They really feel like an 11 year old's poems with the real insights that can be found in a person's poetry. You can sense his hesitation that his writing will not seem cool to his classmates, his reluctance to share his poetry with anyone, and the sense of accomplishment he has despite those reservations.
253 reviews8 followers
November 28, 2017
pg.13 "Ms. Marcus don't understand some things even though she's my favorite teacher in the world. Things like my brown, brown arm. And the white lady and man with all that good food to throw away. How if you turn in your TV, that's what you see-people with lots and lots of stuff not having to sit on scratchy couches in Miss Edna's house. And the true fact is alotta those people are white. Maybe it's that if you're white you can't see all the whiteness around you."
Profile Image for Jeimy.
4,539 reviews33 followers
January 25, 2018
This novel in verse about a 6th grader who uses his poetry notebook to reflect and express his innermost thoughts deserves a place in every classroom library.
Profile Image for elise (the petite punk).
403 reviews118 followers
January 26, 2022
This was some pretty solid verse. It didn't have as much of an emotional impact on me as Jacqueline Woodson's Before the Ever After, but I liked the format. It felt a bit more experimental and disjointed, but that wasn't necessarily a bad thing.

✧ ✧ ✧

≪reading 31 books for 31 days of january≫
╰┈➤ 1. all that's left in the world by erik j. brown
╰┈➤ 2. the female of the species by mindy mcginnis
╰┈➤ 3. the battle of the labyrinth by rick riordan
╰┈➤ 4. exit west by mohsin hamid
╰┈➤ 5. don't call us dead by danez smith
╰┈➤ 6. warm bodies by isaac marion
╰┈➤ 7. the other side of perfect by mariko turk
╰┈➤ 8. the last olympian by rick riordan
╰┈➤ 9. counting down with you by tashie bhuiyan
╰┈➤ 10. a matter of death and life by irvin d. yalom and marilyn yalom
╰┈➤ 11. the new hunger by isaac marion
╰┈➤ 12. dorothy must die by danielle paige
╰┈➤ 13. starfish by lisa fipps
╰┈➤ 14. one true loves by elise bryant
╰┈➤ 15. chlorine sky by mahogany l. browne
╰┈➤ 16. for every one by jason reynolds
╰┈➤ 17. fight night by miriam toews
╰┈➤ 18. shooter by walter dean myers
╰┈➤ 19. wade in the water by tracy k. smith
╰┈➤ 20. we the animals by justin torres
╰┈➤ 21. locomotion by jacqueline woodson
Profile Image for Kristen LeBlanc.
101 reviews2 followers
February 15, 2021
Jacqueline Woodson has really outdone herself with her book, "Locomotion." Woodson's "Locomotion" was a National Book Award finalist and the book's structure is a little different from others I have read, but it works. Each page has a different haiku, poem, sonnet, or letter carefully crafted by Woodson in a way that, main character Lonnie's account of his day to day life can be seen without an illustration besides the front cover. When an author has the ability to hook a reader without pictures to guide the words on each page, the true of the meaning can pictured even more clearly in the mind of the reader.

The clearest message that should be received from Woodson's "Locomotion" is that, no matter the circumstances that have shaped your life, how you grow from them is most important. Lonnie may have thought about his parents' sudden death in a fire several times throughout the book, but he knew he could not change what had happened. He has to be strong for himself and his little sister Lili now. Lili is the perfect depiction of hope even if her and Lonnie live in separate foster homes. They both make the best of it and make sure neither forgets that they still have one another. As best said by Lonnie, "Locomotion, stop thinking about moving on 'cause this is home," as he realizes he is lucky because not everyone has a place to call home.

There are several others themes throughout "Locomotion" like the clear realistic acknowledgement that racism still exists, judgement is still passed by others, and that loss is experienced by everyone. Life will continue to move forward, if you are prepared for it or not. The positive energy Woodson does well to convey in "Locomotion" is felt and keeps the reader engaged.

This is definitely a book that I would suggest educators to read aloud to their students but not one that beginning readers should try to read on their own. There are definite pausing points within Woodson's book that need proper discussion and other times where a teacher should pause to simply let a young reader's mind absorb what all is being mentioned in "Locomotion." Jacqueline Woodson carefully crafted, creatively wrote, and expertly designed a book that will outlive any critics' opinions of her or her selection of subject matter as to which she writes. I will highly recommend "Locomotion" to anyone who asks, "Read any good books lately?" simply because, I do not enjoy reading and this kept me hooked. That says more than words can describe.
92 reviews1 follower
September 10, 2020
This book is about a boy named, Lonnie Collins Motion, him and his little sister, Lili, lost their parents in a house fire. If losing their parents wasn’t hard enough, they got separated and lived in different homes. Lonnie lived with Miss. Edna who loved him very much. He got to see his sister occasionally, but her foster mom didn’t care for him much. Every time he would visit Lili, she tells him when he finds God, they will be together again. Lonnie’s teacher, Ms. Marcus, makes them write poetry in a journal. From Lonnie’s poems you learn so much about him; how he is still devastated about the death of his parents, how much he misses his sister, how one of his classmates has sickle cell disease, him crushing on LaTenya, and much more. Overall, I loved this book. I was an emotional wreck reading this story, because Lonnie makes you feel how he felt with his poems. As the reader, I felt like I knew Lonnie personally. His poems were somewhat like a journal entry, you got to see how he was feeling and was thinking on that certain day. Another thing I loved about this book is you can see how Lonnie grew from the start of his poems to the end. I was sad when I got to the last page, I found myself not wanting the story to be over yet.
56 reviews
February 18, 2021
Lonnie Collins Motion is a young boy who has experienced so much trauma already. He is having to deal with his parents passing, being separated from his sister, Miss Edna his foster mom, school, friends, and many other things. His teacher Ms. Marcus lights a fire in Lonnie and encourages him to write. He writes a lot and he writes well. Lonnie writes about his past and his struggles that he is facing. He has positive poems about memories of his family all together. He has sad poems about losing his parents in a tragic way. He uses writing as an outlet because of Ms. Marcus' encouragement. I loved how this book focused on Lonnie and all the things he was going through. His life was nowhere near perfect and I think some kids would really benefit from reading the story about Lonnie and seeing someone else's life struggles.
84 reviews
February 24, 2022
I am always a lover of books written in free verse. Descriptions are much more vivid and detailed to me, even if there is a lack of words. You're able to ake mental images in your head without every single detail being given to you by the author.
When Lonnie loses his parents, he goes to live with Ms. Edna. In the story, you can see how this loss affects his life now. Between going to see his little sister at her new mama's house and his big brother moving back in with Ms. Edna, Lonnie's life is changing.
This book addresses lots of things: grief, loss, getting older, making new connections, letting go, forgiveness, and love. It is such a sweet story that will honestly pull your heartstrings. It may not have your typical climax/resolution, but it's even better.
September 2, 2020
This book was NOTHING that I thought it was going to be. The main character Lonnie talks about his life through poems. Each poem is about somebody or some event he remembers. Lonnie talks about his Mama, Daddy, younger sister Lili, Miss Edna, Ms. Marcus and his friends Eric & Lamont. Lonnie touches on when he lived in a group home and was bullied and beaten and even passed around from home to home until Miss Edna found him. Lonnie was separated from his younger sister when everything first happened. Lili's new mom allows Lonnie and Lili to spend time together but its not very long or very often. Its almost as if Lili's new mom is ashamed of Lonnie and doesn't want Lili to know who he is. The author Jacqueline Woodson kept me tied in throughout the entire book. I loved how Lonnie remembered certain things about outfits or how to get to Lili's new house. The details in this book made me question a lot of things I have taken for granted and how I should appreciate what I have more.
Profile Image for Jordan Pierre.
81 reviews1 follower
February 18, 2021
This story is about a young man named Lonnie, whose life dramatically changes after a fire accident takes the life of his family and separates him from his little sister, Lili. The story reflects the themes of tragedy, youth, love, and family as this young man gives us a outlook on the daily aspects of his life. Inspired by his teacher Ms Marcus, Lonnie becomes more and more compelled to write and his love of poetry, his love for his sister, his quarrels with the strict Mrs Edna & her son Rodney, the mourning for his parents, and his adventures with his classmates are all sprawled in this very uniquely written novel.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 1,212 reviews

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