28.3.11

Newbery Goal Progress

You would have to be a very avid blog-reader of ours to notice it. Maybe you would have noticed that a number of the books on the "We're reading" sidebar had little gold stickers on them. Maybe you would have then remembered that we had previously stated our goal of reading all of the Newberys and ranking them according to our own preference. Maybe you then would have clicked on this link on the sidebar and seen our growing list and have done some quick math.

But the fact is this: We are more than halfway there. The Newbery Medal was first awarded in 1922, and so this year was (I guess) the 90th Newbery, and we have crossed over 45. And by ransacking the libraries of all the homeschooling moms of Tenwek, we should be able to get close to 55 before leaving Kenya. Pretty good progress for living in Africa.

And we've been ranking them. A couple have even warmed their way into our top 10, and one of them earned the dubious honor of replacing Sounder as the worst Newbery we've ever read.

Here's a couple of our favorites:

A Year Down Yonder (2001): This didn't make the top 10, but was sent us by our friend Janet Tang, and was just a purely fun book, probably the best of the newer ones we've been reading. The story of a city girl who ends up in rural Michigan with her grandma during a recession in the 1940's. But the heart of the story is that her grandma is just an amazingly crazy character.

Secret of the Andes (1953): If you're wondering why Charlotte's Web didn't win a Newbery, the answer is that it came out the same year as this book. And as much as I like that "some pig", and was pleased to not see him bite the big bacon, I liked this book better. Opening scene high up in the Andes, a young llama herder looks down to see, for the first time in his life, other people.

The Wheel on the School (1955): Just a fantastically told little tale about a group of Dutch school children, living in a small fishing village on the dike, and their quest to bring storks back to their village. Full of redemption and setting. Illustrations by the guy who did "Where the Wild Things Are", but that's really secondary to the great story.

The Matchlock Gun (1942): And lastly, our new least favorite (though even some of the low ones are still good). Maybe it was a slow year. A 25-minute read about a young boy who fires his gun and kills some Indians. It ends with his mom injured by a tomahawk. Does she live? Who knows? Maybe that wasn't the point of the story. But what was the point?

All in all, our recommendations. It's been a lot of fun, and we recommend most of them.

But don't take our word for it!

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Let me know of those you would like to read in June and I will bring them from our school library.
Mom

Timothy said...

I just ordered A Year Down Yonder and Secret of the Andes on Amazon for ME to read. Am in the middle of A Hole in the Gospel and Velvet Elvis...enjoying both. Mom

James said...

"maybe it was a slow year"

Well, 1942 wasn't an easy year. Might that have had anything to do with it, I wonder?