Newbery Titles to Try February 15, 2013Posted by ccbooks in Book Reviews.
I’m still doing that thing where every time I walk past our Newbery shelf, I check to make sure all the newest winners are in place. I can’t say enough about how happy I am that The One and Only Ivan, Splendors and Glooms, Three Times Lucky and Bomb have joined the Newbery canon. However, in my perusing of the shelves, it occurred to me that there are lots of other Medal and Honor winners that readers might not have read or heard about. Here are some Newbery titles to try, for two different kinds of readers.
If you like historical books or old-fashioned classics, try…
Invincible Louisa by Cornelia Meigs
This biography of Louisa May Alcott reads like a novel, and even if you haven’t read Little Women, you’ll be drawn in by the story of this author’s struggle with poverty. Alcott had an unconventional childhood moving from place to place with her family, and her early writing attempts, games with her siblings and schemes to earn money are all detailed here. A timeline and index are included and the lovely cover by Jane Dyer is a nice additional touch.
The Good Master by Kate Seredy
The plains of Hungary are the backdrop for adventures in this tale of cousins Jancsi and Kate. Jancsi has low expectations for a girl when he hears that cousin Kate is coming from the city, but he soon learns that she is an energetic tomboy with the same enthusiasm for horses, village fairs and gypsies as himself. The regional customs of Hungarian ranchers are depicted in loving detail and Kate in particular is a bright, engaging character.
Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer
Kate would find a common spirit in Lucinda Wyman, the protagonist of Roller Skates. Set in New York City of the 1890’s, it follows Lucinda through a year of living with family friends, as she struggles with her prim-and-proper cousins, experiences thrills and disappointments and makes friends with everyone from policemen to tramps to fruit sellers. References to unfamiliar things like hansom cabs and pinafores go hand in hand with games of theater and dress-up that children still love today. A great read for lovers of old-fashioned classics like Anne of Green Gables or the Little House series.
If you like folklore and fantasy, try…
The Moorchild by Eloise McGraw
Moql is half Moorfolk and half Human without key Folk traits such as the ability to shape-shift or disappear. As a result, she is banished and sent to live among humans as a changeling named Saaski. In the human world, she also faces rejection from the villagers who fear her differences. The only place she feels safe and at home is out on the moors, playing her bagpipes. As she grows up and slowly comes to understand the tangled relationship between the Folk and the humans, she becomes determined to find the real child of her human parents and bring her home. This is a great read for fans of Fanny Billingsley and other authors who write fantasy based on folktales and legends.
The Perilous Gard by Elizabeth Marie Pope
An ambitious mix of history, ballad lore and fantasy, this story begins with Kate Sutton being exiled to the remote castle known as the Perilous Gard. There she gets pulled into a series of encounters with the Fairy Folk who live underground and eventually must use what she knows of the Tam Lin ballad to save her friend Christopher, as well as decide what she truly wants her life to be. This is a slightly creepy adventure with a strong heroine and wonderful details of fairy lore and legend.