cover image Bluish


Virginia Hamilton. Blue Sky Press (AZ), $16.95 (128pp) ISBN 978-0-590-28879-8

Integrating third-person narrative with entries from fifth-grader Dreenie's journal, Hamilton (Second Cousins) poignantly traces the evolution of an unusual friendship. When she starts a new school, Dreenie feels drawn to a frail classmate named Nathalie, whom everyone calls ""Bluish"" (""This girl is like moonlight. So pale you see the blue veins all over""). Sitting in her wheelchair, always wearing a cap (""like half a bowl"") and carrying a puppy (""Nobody brings a dog to school!""), Bluish at first seems unapproachable, but Dreenie is determined to edge carefully closer. She succeeds at winning the girl's trust while helping to break down the barrier that separates Bluish from the other students. Spare prose expresses each stage of the girls' relationship, which sometimes appears as fragile as Bluish herself. Hamilton effectively weaves in details about Dreenie's Amsterdam Avenue neighborhood in New York, her school and her attention-hungry sidekick, Tulie, adding dimension and solidity to the story. The girl's nickname also introduces an understated exploration of what it means to be different. Readers will come to cherish Dreenie's openheartedness, just as Dreenie comes to cherish her new-found friend. Ages 9-14. (Oct.)