Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Newbery Project

I've been on this Newbery reading project for a number of years.  Every now and then, I will pick up a Newbery Medal or Honor book that I haven't read. Some are more appealing and easier reads than others. Unfortunately, I'm having a difficult time getting through the 1920s and some of the 1930s.  If it's not for the cumbersome language, it's the dated stereotypes.  Still, it's an interesting exercise.

Waterless Mountain won the Medal in 1932.  As a collection of short incidents in the life of a  young Navajo (spelled Navaho in the story) boy named Younger Brother wishing to become a medicine man , it's a mildly amusing tale.  For its era, it's a surprisingly sympathetic and aware look at the life of a Navajo community.  In several scenes, Caucasian characters are shown as viewing the Navajo people as being nothing more than curious tourist attractions.  That's pretty remarkable for a children's novel published in 1931. The life of the Navajos is very romanticized (and rather condescending at times), which is representative of the view of Native Americans at the early part of the twentieth century.  The descriptions of the landscape are lovely, as are the retellings of the legends (which may or not be wholly authentic--I'm not sure).  However, there's not much action and intrigue in the story. 

I'm currently reading Hitty: Her First Hundred Years, which won the Newbery in 1930 (I have three more books from the 1920s that I need to finish--one of which I am particularly dreading, but I might as well get them read and done with).  As someone who finds doll stories a bit creepy, this is not one that I was particularly eager to read.  Hitty has many adventures (including one in New Orleans, which I'm looking forward to reading), even if this is a rather prim story so far.

In more modern tales--I just finished Lemony Snicket's latest (and first entry in a new series): Who Could That Be At This Hour?  I can't tell much of the plot without giving away important elements, but Snicket fans will be happy to know that this is just as wacky and funny as his Series of Unfortunate Events (including the definitions of key words inserted throughout the text). 

If you're looking for new reads to enjoy during your Thanksgiving break, check out our new shelves. We've received many great new titles!

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