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About Brenda Woods
Brenda Woods was born in Cincinnati, Ohio but moved to Los Angeles when she was six years old. She grew up in a large Catholic family, the second eldest of seven. "It was a noisy, busy, boisterous household and I always sought quiet spaces where I could read and imagine. The public library wasn't too far from our house and it was a haven." She became a shutterbug at the age of eleven when she received her first camera, has studied painting and ceramics and believes strongly in the healing power of music. Words were always of great interest to her, the way they could be put together in melodic, lyrical ways. When she was twelve years old she decided to memorize the entire dictionary but her attempts were, much to her dismay, unsuccessful.
Brenda Woods graduated from Ascension School in South Los Angeles, St. Mary's Academy in Inglewood, California, and California State University, Northridge. Brenda is the mother of two adult sons.
"The road to becoming a writer was winding and fortuitous but a definite fit for someone who rather enjoys spending time alone with her thoughts, a thesaurus, and a laptop.
I am extremely grateful to have been given the opportunity to express myself with words and that my offerings have been well received. Young people are the best and it has been a great privilege to share my stories with them."
Brenda Woods is the recipient of numerous awards, including The Coretta Scott King Honor, PEN Center USA Finalist, Focal Award, ALA TOP Ten Books for Reluctant Readers, and the International Reading Association Book Award. The Unsung Hero of Birdsong, USA, a Kirkus Review Best Book and CCBC Choice, is her eighth published novel.
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Titles By Brenda Woods
Saint is a boy with confidence as big as his name is long. A budding musician, he earns money playing clarinet for the New Orleans tourists. His best friend is a stray dog named Shadow, and it's because of Shadow that Saint's still in town when Hurricane Katrina hits. Saint's not worried about the hurricane at first--he plans to live to be a hundred just to defy his palm-reader friend Jupi, who told him he had a short life line. But now the city has been ordered to evacuate and Saint won't leave without Shadow. His search brings him to his elderly neighbor's home and the three of them flee to her attic when the waters rise. But when Miz Moran's medication runs out, it's up to Saint to save her life--and his beloved Shadow's.
On Gabriel's twelfth birthday, he gets a new bike--and is so excited that he accidentally rides it right into the path of a car. Fortunately, a Black man named Meriwether pushes him out of the way just in time, and fixes his damaged bike. As a thank you, Gabriel gets him a job at his dad's auto shop. Gabriel's dad hires him with some hesitation, however, anticipating trouble with the other mechanic, who makes no secret of his racist opinions.
Gabriel and Meriwether become friends, and Gabriel learns that Meriwether drove a tank in the Army's all-Black 761st Tank Battalion in WWII. Meriwether is proud of his service, but has to keep it a secret because talking about it could be dangerous. Sadly, danger finds Meriwether, anyway, when his family receives a frightening threat. The South being the way it is, there's no guarantee that the police will help--and Gabriel doesn't know what will happen if Meriwether feels forced to take the law into his own hands.
Violet is a smart, funny, brown-eyed, brown-haired girl in a family of blonds. Her mom is white, and her dad, who died before she was born, was black. She attends a mostly white school where she sometimes feels like a brown leaf on a pile of snow. She’s tired of people asking if she’s adopted. Now that Violet’s eleven, she decides it’s time to learn about her African American heritage. And despite getting off to a rocky start trying to reclaim her dad’s side of the family, she can feel her confidence growing as the puzzle pieces of her life finally start coming together. Readers will cheer for Violet, sharing her joy as she discovers her roots.
Zoe Reindeer considers herself “just Zoe”—never measuring up to her too-perfect older sister or her smarty-pants little brother. Truthfully, though, she’d rather just blend in with the plants at the family business, Doc Reindeer’s Exotic Plant Wonderland. She does have one friend, Q, and he’s the best one ever—but he’s moving away, leaving Zoe to fend for herself, and she doesn’t know what she’ll do without him. That is until a tall astronomer from Madagascar comes to the nursery looking for a Baobab tree. His visit starts a ball rolling that makes Zoe long for real adventures, not just imaginary ones—and shows her that perhaps her first real adventure is finally beginning.
When Eden’s cousin Winter comes for a visit, it turns out he’s not just there to sightsee. He wants to figure out what happened to his dad, who disappeared ten years earlier from the Watts area of L.A. So the cousins set out to investigate together, and what they discover brings them joy—and heartache. It also opens up a whole new understanding of their world, just as the area they’ve got their sights on explodes in a clash between the police and the Black residents. For six days Watts is like a war zone, and Eden and Winter become heroes in their own part of the drama. Eden hopes to be a composer someday, and the only way she can describe that summer is a song with an unexpected ending, full of changes in tempo and mood--totally unforgettable.