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.
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!