Cover image for Bluish : a novel
Bluish : a novel
Hamilton, Virginia.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Blue Sky Press, 1999.
Physical Description:
127 pages ; 20 cm
Ten-year-old Dreenie feels both intrigued and frightened when she thinks about the girl nicknamed Bluish, whose leukemia is making her pale and causing her to use a wheelchair.
Reading Level:
460 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 3.2 3.0 41621.

Reading Counts RC 3-5 5.5 4 Quiz: 17138 Guided reading level: S.
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
X Juvenile Fiction Central Closed Stacks
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Open Shelf
X Juvenile Fiction Work Room

On Order



The kids call her Bluish because leukemia is making her pale. But one girl, Dreenie, finds Bluish fascinating and encourages her friend, Tuli, to reach beyond her fear. One-by-one, the girls begin to construct the steely, unbreakable bonds of friendship in this humourous and hopeful novel.

Author Notes

Virginia Hamilton was born March 12, 1934. She received a scholarship to Antioch College, and then transferred to the Ohio State University in Columbus, where she majored in literature and creative writing. She also studied fiction writing at the New School for Social Research in New York.

Her first children's book, Zeely, was published in 1967 and won the Nancy Bloch Award. During her lifetime, she wrote over 40 books including The People Could Fly, The Planet of Junior Brown, Bluish, Cousins, the Dies Drear Chronicles, Time Pieces, Bruh Rabbit and the Tar Baby Girl, and Wee Winnie Witch's Skinny. She was the first African American woman to win the Newbery Award, for M. C. Higgins, the Great. She has won numerous awards including three Newbery Honors, three Coretta Scott King Awards, an Edgar Allan Poe Award, the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, and the Hans Christian Andersen Award. She was also the first children's author to receive a MacArthur Foundation "genius" grant in 1995.

She died from breast cancer on February 19, 2002 at the age of 67.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 4

Booklist Review

Gr. 4^-6. At first, Dreenie doesn't know what to make of Natalie, the sick girl in a wheelchair who is part of her fifth-grade class in a New York City magnet school. The kids call Natalie "Bluish," not because of her ethnicity (her dad's black and her mom's Jewish) but because her pale skin has a bluish tint caused by all the chemotherapy she's had for cancer. Dreenie tries to be nice, but she's scared ("What if she dies? What if I die?"), and Bluish demands respect, not pity; she hates people who hover like a helicopter. Hamilton tells rather than shows Dreenie's growing bond with Bluish, but through Dreenie's eyes--in journal entries and sharp vignettes--we watch Bluish becoming part of the dynamic classroom. What's best is the funny, touching portrait of another classmate, Tuli, who is so needy that she pretends to be Spanish ("Hokay, ho-ney, we take care. Cuidado!"). She desperately wants to be Dreenie's best pal, and Dreenie is sorry for Tuli, but it's Bluish who is Dreenie's soulmate. Hamilton gets the way kids talk. Like Bluish, 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. --Hazel Rochman

Publisher's Weekly Review

When she starts at a new school, Dreenie feels drawn to a frail classmate, whom everyone calls "Bluish." In a starred review, PW said, "Readers will come to cherish Dreenie's openheartedness." Ages 9-12. (June) Fiction REPRINTS (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

Gr 5-8-Ten-year-old Dreenie, a recent transfer to a New York City magnet school, is fascinated with her fellow classmate Natalie, a girl battling leukemia. Kids call her Bluish, not a derogatory term for her black and Jewish heritage, "Blewish," but because of the effects of chemotherapy on her skin. Dreenie's other friend, Tuli, is a flamboyant girl who is looking for the stability and normalcy that Dreenie and her family have. Through four weeks in December, these three girls move into a closer circle of friendship, with alternating feelings of fear, generosity, and kindness. Together, they are able to reach out to the rest of the class in accepting and celebrating Bluish as she is. Though her future is uncertain-it will take five years of remission before any assurance-readers are left seeing curly copper hair hiding under her skullcap, delighting her friends and inspiring hope. The narration alternates between Dreenie's journal and a third-person narrator, allowing readers to glimpse the firsthand incredulity of a child witnessing serious illness and also the reaction of a classroom community as it follows the highs and lows of Bluish's health. This structure doesn't always work, and readers may be puzzled when the narrative voice switches from third person to include Dreenie's journal entries. Hamilton occasionally slips into a heavy-handed adult perspective that does not reflect a 10-year-old's experience. At times, topics are introduced but are never fleshed out, such as Tuli's capricious living situation or Dreenie's sister's accusation that Dreenie "sure ain't one of us Anneva and Gerald Browns." A sensitive and quiet story that is not fully realized.-Katie O'Dell Madison, Multnomah County Library, Portland, OR (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-Over the course of four weeks in December, three girls form a close, hard-won friendship in this novel by Virginia Hamilton (Blue Sky Press, 1999). Dreenie, a fifth grader in New York City, comes from a loving home with two parents. Tuli, a biracial girl who pretends to be Latina, needs lots of attention and support from Dreenie. And then there's Natalie. The kids in school call her Bluish because her chemotherapy treatments for leukemia have left her with skin so pale that it looks almost blue. Dreenie is cautious about Natalie at first, reacting to her wheelchair and her prickly dislike of being on the receiving end of anyone's pity. As Dreenie begins to truly empathize with Bluish, the rest of the class begins to follow. The changes in point of view are somewhat confusing when reading the text, but the recording alleviates this problem. Actress Lisa Renee Pitts ably gives each character her own voice, helping to clarify changes in perspective. Tuli is exaggeratedly Latina, Bluish has a tiny and high voice, and Dreenie sounds like a New Yorker. A well-done audiobook dealing with the themes of differences, independence, friendship, and acceptance.-B. Allison Gray, John Jermain Memorial Library, Sag Harbor, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.



Friendship isn't always easy?Natalie is different from the other kids in Dreenie's fifth-grade class. She comes to school in a wheelchair. She always wears a knitted hat. And she's allowed to bring her puppy to class. The kids in the class call Natalie Bluish because her skin is tinted blue from chemotherapy.Dreenie is fascinated by Bluish--and a little scared of her, too. She watches Bluish and writes about her in her journal. Slowly, the two girls become good friends. But Dreenie still struggles with Bluish's illness. Bluish is weak and frail, but she also wants to be independent. How do you act around a girl like that? Excerpted from Bluish by Virginia Hamilton All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.