I read most of this book years ago (when I was an actual kid) and even though I liked it, it took me ages to go back to it and read it all the way through. Jacqueline Woodson can be a bit hit-or-miss for me, but this was one of the books by her I actually really like and I’d also recommend the sequel. Locomotion is a really quick read that revolves around Lonnie, a little boy who went into the foster care system after his parents died in a fire. He ends up being adopted by someone who loves him, but he ends up separated from his beloved younger sister in the process when she goes to a different foster family that doesn’t accept boys.
Lonnie has several positive friendships with his peers, but he’s often lonely and his love of poetry is something his most boys his age can’t relate to. Locomotion is told in a lyrical and intimate style that still feels appropriate to the character’s young age, and Lonnie is a sensitive, thoughtful character who’s a good role model and provides a engrossing portrayal of someone falling in love with the creative process and dealing with life events that are sometimes traumatic and difficult, but never devoid of hope.
This story is based on one of the very first dreams I can remember having, a nightmare from when I was probably about four. I replaced myself as a toddler with a little boy named Jonathan, but the I tried to capture the feeling of helplessness and of being ignored by adults who dismissed my fear (which in the nightmare, was obviously warranted) as being a child’s ridiculous antics. The story is a bit horror-ish, but it’s more about the fears and insecurities of childhood.