Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Newbery Awards

Betsy Bird at A Fuse #8 Production mentioned (some time ago) that she was working her way through the Newbery list. Upon reading that little tidbit, I thought, "Well, that's a neat idea," and left it at that. I'd forgotten about her project until I got to the "Awards" entry in The Essential Guide to Children's Books and Their Creators. Since the point of this project is to work on my historical understanding of children's/YA literature, I thought it would be a good idea to incorporate reading the Newbery and Caldecott winners/honorees into my project.

While I don't have access to a handful of the Honor recipients (from the 1920s and 1930s-you're more likely to find these in academic libraries than public libraries) and a few Medal recipients (again, from the very early days of the awards) that I can count on one hand, I will be able to go through 99% of the list. I also reserve the right to not finish a book if I truly cannot get through it. I am not anticipating this will happen for the most part.

However, it did happen with my first selection, The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willen Van Loon. It's not the fault of the book. It's one of the most lyrical history books I've read, or attempted to read. I'm just not in the mood to read it straight through.

However, I did handpick a few chapters on Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, and Confucius. Bearing in mind that this was written in 1921, I was very curious to read Van Loon's take. Aside from a very few instances, the chapters were quite objective and "open minded." I did notice that Van Loon calls Muslims "Mohammedans," but that was common at that time (this is no longer considered acceptable, since it implies that Muslims worship Mohammed).

The Story of Mankind has been updated three times; once in 1972, then in 1984 and again in 1999.

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