Monday, January 20, 2014

Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry for Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

I don't make New Year's Resolutions (because I can't keep them!) but one of my goals for this year is to read more historical fiction and more Newbery winners. So for the first time (I know; it's hard to believe), I read Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry.





Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry by Mildred D. Taylor (first published by Dial in 1976; winner of the 1977 Newbery Medal, for ages 10 and up)

Source: paperback purchased at my local second-hand bookshop

Synopsis (from the publisher's website)Winner of the 1977 Newbery Medal, this is a remarkably moving novel--one that has impressed the hearts and minds of millions of readers. Set in Mississippi at the height of the Depression, it is the story of one family's struggle to maintain their integrity, pride, and independence in the face of racism and social injustice. And, too, it is Cassie's story--Cassie Logan, an independent girl who discovers over the course of an important year why having land of their own is so crucial to the Logan family, even as she learns to draw strength from her own sense of dignity and self-respect.

Why I recommend it: This should be a modern classic. The writing alone is worth the read. You can tell you're in the hands of a master. Some books don't stand up well more than 35 years later, but this seems as fresh as if it was written this year. I felt completely inside nine-year-old Cassie's head as she tells us about the events of 1933 in their small Southern town. She's brave and headstrong and I was cheering her on and crying with her all the way. Kids who know very little about that time period -- and the terrible injustices that happened all too often -- should find this an eye-opener. And not just on Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The American Library Association posted a wonderful interview with Mildred Taylor in 2006.

This book is one in a sequence of Logan family books based on tales that the author (born 1943) heard from her own family:

Song of the Trees (1975)
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1976)
Let the Circle Be Unbroken (1981)
The Road to Memphis (1990)
The Land (2001)

For more middle grade reviews, see Shannon's blog.

Have you read any of the Logan family sequence? What did you think?

And don't forget to listen to the ALA Youth Media Awards live webcast (starting at 8 am ET on Monday, January 27) to find out the next Newbery Medal winner, and more.
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NOTE: After this review, I'm taking a blogging break to revise my third MG novel. Remember when Jerry Spinelli advised me to wait three months? Well, those three months are up next week.

I'll be back on February 17 with Part One of an exclusive interview with Pennsylvania resident and author Dianne Salerni, whose MG fantasy The Eighth Day launches in April. Part Two follows on February 24, along with a GIVEAWAY!

See you on February 17!

26 comments:

  1. I think it is a great goal to read what should be classics. I don't think I've ever read this, but will definitely put it on my TBR list. Have a productive break from blogging.

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    1. Exactly, Rosi. If you're going to have goals, they may as well be lofty ones!

      And thank you.

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  2. Happy revision and thank you for another great recommendation! :)

    ~Akoss

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  3. I like that I finally read a book LONG before you did! :-) This one is certainly a beauty and deserves to be classified as a modern classic. I read it in college and then again aloud to my kids a few years ago. They still laugh about some of the lines in it (although the overall story is nothing to laugh about).

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    1. Oh, I'm sure you've read others I haven't read, Barbara. Although I have read quite a few Newbery winners and honor books. I should make a list sometime. :) And I totally see what you mean about laughing at some of the humor. It always impresses me when a serious book has sentences that make you laugh.

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  4. Sounds like a great goal. And this one sounds good. Awesome you got it at a used bookstore.

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    1. I've unearthed many treasures at that used bookstore, Natalie!

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  5. I love your reading goal! It's easy to get caught up in reading new ones and forgetting about all the great books that are already out there!

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  6. Best of luck revisiting your MG ms! I am sure the three months away will help you to see it with fresh eyes. :)

    I loved this book when I was in middle school and I read a few other books by this author too. The writing drew me in and all these years later the story has stuck with me. Wonderful review. :)
    ~Jess

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    1. Thanks, Jess. That's precisely why Jerry advised me to wait that long. The mistakes will pop out at me. :)

      And thank you for your kind words about the post. I need to read something else by her now.

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  7. You're right about this being a modern classic--and that it's simply a beautiful book! I've read one or two of the other Logan books, but somehow missed until this week that there was a sequence I could follow to learn the entire family story. After reading up on them now, I'm determined to read through them all!

    --Suzanne
    www.suzannewarr.com

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    1. Good for you, Suzanne. I'd like to read the whole series now, too!

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  8. I have fond memories of this one. I've used it with sixth graders and read it when I was in school. Thanks for featuring this perfect title for today. Happy MLK Day!

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  9. I haven't read this one, but I keep seeing it pop up. I need to read it! I'm so inspired by your three months away. I've never been able to stay away that long from a ms (a month is usually as long as I can manage). I'm sure it will help you be very fruitful in your revisions!

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    1. Jenni, I usually wait two weeks! But if a well-known author gives me advice, I'm taking it. And I certainly hope it helps. I'll let you know. Eventually. :)

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  10. This sounds great! I think I'll partly share your goal - to read the Newbery winners! :)

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    1. Good idea, Erik! Can't go wrong with Newbery winners.

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  11. I haven't read it either, but have always heard good things about it. Good luck with revisions and see you in February!

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    1. Thanks, Jennifer! And thanks for stopping by.

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  12. Hey you! Hope the revisions are going well...thanks for sharing this one. My oh my the memories. A modern classic indeed.

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  13. How have I not read this yet?! My nine-year-old daughter should love it!

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