Monday, October 27, 2014

Three Newbery winners

Recently, I've been trying to catch up on my Newbery reading. Having taken this test for fun, I was surprised to learn I'd only read 57 out of 93 of the medal winners (I've read far more of the honor books).

So I hustled down to my local second-hand book shop and bought what they had. Now my total's up to 60. Not bad, but nowhere near a perfect score. Naturally, I've read more of the recent winners, plus the ones from my childhood, but not as many from the decades before 1960. Still working on that.





Sounder by William H. Armstrong (originally published by HarperCollins in 1969; this paperback released 1972)

Newbery Medal Winner 1970

Synopsis (from HarperCollins)During the difficult years of the late nineteenth century South, an African-American boy and his poor family rarely have enough to eat. Each night, the boy's father takes their dog, Sounder, out to look for food and the man grows more desperate by the day. When food suddenly appears on the table one morning, it seems like a blessing. But the sheriff and his deputies are not far behind. The ever-loyal Sounder remains determined to help the family he loves as hard times bear down on them.

Why I recommend it: The writing has a lyrical and timeless quality, helped I'm sure by the simplicity of calling the characters "the  boy" and "his father" and "his mother". The only character with a name in the entire story is the dog, Sounder. 







Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska (hardcover published in 1964 by Atheneum; this paperback edition from Aladdin, 2007)


Newbery Medal Winner 1965


Synopsis (from Indiebound)Manolo was only three when his father, the great bullfighter Juan Olivar, died. But Juan is never far from Manolo's consciousness -- how could he be, with the entire town of Arcangel waiting for the day Manolo will fulfill his father's legacy?


But Manolo has a secret he dares to share with no one -- he is a coward, without afición, the love of the sport that enables a bullfighter to rise above his fear and face a raging bull. As the day when he must enter the ring approaches, Manolo finds himself questioning which requires more courage: to follow in his father's legendary footsteps or to pursue his own destiny?

Why I recommend it: Despite the dated subject matter, this is a quiet and inspiring little book about courage and facing one's fear. I totally fell in love with Manolo as a character. 






The Slave Dancer by Paula Fox (hardcover published in 1973 by Bradbury Press; this paperback edition published 2008 by Aladdin)

Newbery Medal Winner 1974

Synopsis (from Indiebound)One day, thirteen-year-old Jessie Bollier is earning pennies playing his fife on the docks of New Orleans; the next, he is kidnapped and thrown aboard a slave ship, where his job is to provide music while shackled slaves "dance" to keep their muscles strong and their bodies profitable. As the endless voyage continues, Jessie grows increasingly sickened by the greed, brutality, and inhumanity of the slave trade, but nothing prepares him for the ultimate horror he will witness before his nightmare ends -- a horror that will change his life forever.

Why I recommend it: I thought I knew a lot about slavery in the U.S., but then I read The Slave Dancer and learned a lot more. This book would be excellent for starting classroom discussions.

How many Newbery medal winners have you read?




22 comments:

  1. Awesome you're reading Newberry winners. I'll confess that I haven't read many. I have too many books to read and not enough time.

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    1. Ah, yes, that's the eternal problem, isn't it, Natalie? But it's a lovely dilemma to have. I'm just glad there are too many books instead of not enough books.

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  2. I looked at the Newberry list and counted my reads: 23. Virtually none in the first twenty years, with most coming from the 80's and beyond. Out of your three mentioned, I haven't read Shadow of the Bull. So many books, so little time! Thanks for featuring.

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    1. I've only read four from the first 20 years, Greg: The Voyages of Doctor Doolittle, The Cat Who Went to Heaven (which you could read in about 20 minutes!), Invincible Louisa (a lovely book about Louisa May Alcott) and Caddie Woodlawn.

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  3. I don't want to share my number! Do I get points for Newberry winners I have purchased but not bought yet? ;) Seeing the list motivated me to read Strawberry Girl, which was one of my mom's favorites but I didn't know it was a Newberry winner.

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    1. No worries, Susan. You don't have to share. And that's great that you've purchased Newbery winners.

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  4. I'm scared to see what my number is...probably should quietly find out, then see what I can do to up it! These books look like a fabulous place to start--thanks for the recommend!

    --Suzanne
    www.suzannewarr.com

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    1. You're welcome, Suzanne, and I'll bet you've read quite a number of them, including the one you're featuring today!

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  5. Thanks for featuring this titles! I've never read these, and I was particularly intrigued to hear that Sounder only has one character name. That would be quite a feat as a writer. I took the test--41. I've been trying to read more Newberries this year, though, so these are some great recs to start.

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    1. That's a respectable number, Jenni. And I thought that too about the writing of Sounder.

      Yay for Newbery winners!

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  6. I have read only 7 them. The test kindly awarded me a pizza for this, instead of dumping me in a bucket of slime. Maybe it thought I was 7? Anyhoo, there were bunches I'd never even heard of. I think I may start a project where I read the winners from 1990 on (the year I moved to the States). Manageable, don't you think?

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    1. Michael, that's understandable since you grew up in the UK. I'm sure I haven't read as many British classics as you have. (And I suspect everyone gets that silly pizza party every time you take the test. Because I got it both times.) The winners from 1990 on would be an excellent TBR list!

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    1. Congrats, Caroline! Fifty-one is still a lot. Keep in mind, I was reading those books from the 60s when they were new!

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  8. I'm impressed. I've only read 20. So much to do, so little time. I own several I haven't read yet, so I think I'll tackle those first. Thanks for the kick in the pants I needed! 8-)

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    1. Ha ha, Rosi. You're welcome. Go read those Newbery winners!

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  9. I have only read 39! Yikes- lots of them to read. :) I had read lots from my childhood and many of the recent books, but lots of the books on the list are ones that I want to read!

    Thanks for sharing about Shadow of a Bull- I haven't read that one yet.
    ~Jess

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    1. Thirty-nine is still quite a lot, Jess! And you're welcome. Yes, the Newbery winners list makes a great TBR.

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  10. I've read the winners, but some are just impossible to get students to read. Waterless Mountain? Gay-Neck? I don't even have copies anymore. Good to have a goal, though! I haven't even been buying the new ones if I didn't think students would like them. Fun fact: Paula Fox's granddaughter is Courtney Love!

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    1. You've read all of them? Wow, you're good. But yes, I totally agree. Those early books are a bear to get into sometimes. I didn't include Secret of the Andes here because I wasn't that impressed with it. And my next group of winners from the library are all newer.

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  11. I have no idea ho many I've read but I'm guessing very few since I have to go out of my way to read one.
    I'm really not sure how I will feel about this book if I read it. :/

    Akoss

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    1. Ah, that's the trouble, isn't it, Akoss? Some books are harder to take than others.

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