Wednesday, December 03, 2008
Among Newbery fans, Invincible Louisa occasionally gets a bad rap. They consider it to be one of the weaker choices for the Newbery (when they’re not bashing Secret of the Andes for winning the Newbery Medal over Charlotte’s Web, which was named an Honor book). They claim it’s dull and plodding. Not having read it since elementary school, and seeing that it was on my next shelf for my next Biography not-so-random shelf, I decided that it was time to reread it.
Now, children’s biographies are simply not written in the old-fashioned and slightly condescending way that some used to be written (the book won the Newbery in 1934). I don’t object to that-it can’t help the era and fashion in which it was written. It’s important to remember that this is one of the very early examples of Newbery winners and is written in a style that many readers wouldn’t stand for anymore. The patronizing attitude toward African Americans may make modern readers wince, however. It’s not likely I will reread this or recommend this (perhaps time for a new biography of Alcott). It’s useful for those wanting a peek into children’s biographies from another era, or those winding their way through the Newbery canon.
What do you think about Invincible Louisa? I'd love to hear from defenders of the book.