All of the kids at school stay away from “Bluish,” but when Dreenie and Tuli learn to see beyond her differences, they discover a true friend Ten-year-old Natalie is different from the other kids at her New York City magnet school: She is often absent, wears a knit cap, and uses a wheelchair. Her classmates have nicknamed her “Bluish” because her pale skin is tinted blue from chemotherapy. Dreenie is fascinated by and a bit frightened of Bluish—she watches her from afar and writes about her in her journal. As the school year progresses, Dreenie and her friend Tuli learn to see beyond Bluish’s differences and discover a fiercely independent, spirited girl who isn’t so different from them after all. But it’s not easy being friends with someone who’s sick, and Dreenie doesn’t always know how to act. Hamilton delivers a lesson of compassion and demonstrates the power of friendship to overcome even the most trying of situations. "Readers will come to cherish Dreenie's openheartedness" —Publishers Weekly
“Hamilton gets the way kids talk . . . she makes us ‘stop and look.’ Many readers will be caught by the jumpy, edgy story of sorrow and hope, of kids trying to be friends.” —Booklist Virginia Hamilton (1934–2002) was the author of over forty books for children, young adults, and their older allies. Throughout a career that spanned four decades, Hamilton earned numerous accolades for her work, including nearly every major award available to writers of youth literature. In 1974, M.C. Higgins, the Great earned Hamilton the National Book Award, the Newbery Medal (which she was the first African-American author to receive), and the Boston Globe–Horn Book Award, three of the field’s most prestigious awards. She received the Hans Christian Andersen Award, the highest international recognition bestowed on a writer of books for young readers, in 1992, and in 1995 became the first children’s book author to receive a MacArthur Fellowship, or “Genius Award.” She was also the recipient of the Coretta Scott King Award.
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.