Back to the Newbery Books

I am back to reading the Newbery books.  I’d read 1922 – 1931 with the exception of just a couple over the summer.  Then school started and I didn’t have much time for reading anymore.

I have a new plan though.  I have printed out a pdf of all the award winners from the beginning to the present.  Instead of going through year by year though, this time I am going to pick and choose until I hopefully have them all read.  I also am looking for books that I can check out for my kindle from the library.  I still don’t have a ton of reading time, so I am not wanting to interlibrary loan too many right now.  I will feel too much pressure to get to them.   And I don’t want to feel pressure.  For that reason, if I start a book and it’s just not my kind of book or I really don’t like it, I can stop reading it.  I won’t march through just for the sake of reading it.  This happened to me several times in the books of the 1920s.  There were some beautiful and great books, but there were some really dry ones too that I just didn’t get into.  I said good-bye to those.

It’s very satisfying to check books off a list as I read them.  As I look at the list though, I am thinking using a highlighter might even be more satisfying.


I just started the 1998 Newbery Medal winner Out of the Dust.  It is written in free verse, and it’s just a beautifully written story about the Dust Bowl.  The story is very historically accurate (at least based on what I have read about the Dust Bowl).  It’s so interesting and so darn sad.  At first, I thought I’d like to read this with Davey, but about 1/3 into the book, I have changed my mind on that.  At least not until he gets a little older.  It’s really bleak, but this was quite a bleak time.

It’s amazing what I have learned and experienced so far reading these Newbery books, and I’ve only really just begun.

Back to the Blog

I haven’t had a chance to write in almost three months.  I started student teaching, and it’s been a busy time.  It’s been a really good busy time though.

Today I am sitting outside enjoying the fall afternoon.  Ellensburg is just incredible in the fall.  It’s my favorite season even though it does mean winter will be here soon, and that’s not my favorite.   So we’ve been getting outside as much as possible.


I’ve not been knitting or writing about knitting as much as I’d like either.  However, I did finish some really cool socks just in time for the fair in Septembe.  They were a request from my cousin and they were just a lot of fun to make.


The pattern is called Anelmaiset, and it’s so versatile.  I was able to make this from my yarn stash which admittedly has gotten a little big so I had some choices.  I used worsted weight yarn, and I had a great time trying to figure out what colors to use.  I really like colorwork, and these knit up pretty fast considering that they are knee socks!

I got to experience a new stitch which I think is just called “flowers in a row”.  I had to follow a video on youtube to do the stitch, and I had to watch it really closely.  It was a little tricky for me at first, but fun to learn a new stitch.   I think the video I referred to was: Flowers in a Row.  You can kinda see the stitch in this picture.  It’s the flowery section between the two sections of bright pink.


I wasn’t sure about the ribbon, but I am glad I made the spaces for a ribbon to be threaded through because I think this could be very helpful on a knee sock.  No one likes a saggy knee sock.


These would definitely be fun to make again, but for now I need to finish some really cool cabled Christmas stockings for a friend.  The 4th one is almost complete, and then I am looking forward to blogging about them.  So for now,  I will sit outside, and enjoy the day while I knit.





Newbery Books: 1930

It’s been a few weeks, but I am back to my Newbery books.  We just returned from a great two week vacation from Maine and Oklahoma.  We are happy to be home, but it was a really fun trip.

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I actually finished reading all of the 1930 books before we left, so I am feeling a little disconnected from them.  However, I am looking back through them again and am reminded of how much I really enjoyed some of them.

There were six Honor Books chosen in 1930 and of course the one Medal winner. I wrote about Little Blacknose in a separate post.  It was definitely worth reading.

Pran of Albania was another Honor book, and it was so good.  It is historical fiction about a girl living in Albania, and it takes place in the early 19th century.  l loved learning a little about Albanian culture at this time.  For example, the women were always knitting or spinning as they walked, and I loved how this was incorporated into the story. During part of the story, Pran and her family are forced to flee their homes and live as refugees for awhile.  I felt like what I was reading happening to them in the 1800s would easily apply to how our many modern refugees must feel, and I found this part of the story so compelling.  This book is not easy to obtain, and I think that’s too bad.  I have it on my “to-do” list to try to see if I can help make it available on Project Gutenberg if it is eligible.  I highly recommend this book.

I also really enjoyed The Jumping-Off Place.  It’s about siblings who lost their parents and then they also lose the uncle who was raising them.  The uncle had begun to establish a homestead in the Dakotas, and so the children (two are teenagers) decide to homestead it themselves.  This is an exciting book, and I love the strong female character who is so kind and brave.  I was happy to see that this book is available on Amazon even in Kindle format.  I was able to recommend it to my grandmother with whom I try to share my favorite Newbery books.

Vaino: A Boy of New Finland was also very interesting.  One thing I love about these different books is the opportunity to learn just a little about different cultures and parts of the world.  The story is about a little boy and his family who are involved in the Finnish Civil War in 1917.  A second important part of the story is the mother’s telling of stories which are old Finnish legends.  So I learned a little about the Finnish Civil War and about Finnish legends.  I think this book is definitely worth reading.

I knew almost nothing about Madame Roland (Marie-Jeanne Roland) who was an influential figure in the French Revolution, and so I found the next Honor book, A Daughter of the Seine to be very interesting.  It is a biography of Roland’s life.  I learned a lot about her and the French Revolution.  However, there are sections of political discussions that I had to kind of plow through, and I can’t imagine many children finding this too interesting.  Overall though I was very glad to read it.

Then there was The Tangle-Coated Horse.  This book is a collection of Irish legends. I gave this book a try, but I have just read too many legends and tales at this point, and they are all starting to run together to me.  This book was reviewed positively, and I’d like to come back to it sometime, but for now I am pretty weary of tales.

And finally, we have the Newbery Medal winner for 1930:  Hitty: Her First Hundred Years.  This book is told from the perspective of a doll.  The story of Hitty begins when she is carved from mountain ash (which is supposed to have magical properties).  Her first owner – Phoebe – is a little girl living in Maine, and it begins in the early 1800s. She becomes separated and is then reunited with her owner Phoebe several times (I got a little irritated with that.  Phoebe missed her so much but then would lose her again).  Her travels take her to Baton Rouge, Boston and the South Pacific.  She spends time with a snake-charmer and ends up in an antique shop.  It’s an interesting book, but I did not find it as compelling as Pran of Albania or The Jumping-Off Place.  I really came to care about Pran and the siblings in The Jumping-Off Place, and while I was not indifferent to Hitty, I just wasn’t drawn into the story as much.  However, a child reading this book might feel quite differently about a doll who comes to life and has such great adventures!

Whew!  1930 was a pretty big year and included (at least for me) some very memorable books.

Newbery Honor 1930: Little Blacknose

This book surprised me.  Before I started reading I wondered who was “Little Blacknose”?  Turns out, Little Blacknose was not a who but a what.  This book is told from the perspective of a steam locomotive.  He was known as the Dewitt Clinton (a former of governor of New York), and he was the first steam locomotive to run in the state of the New York.

Reading a story from the perspective of a train was pretty interesting.

“Little Blacknose really loved wood best, good pitch pine, for coal was hard to chew.. Delishshshshshsh-shious!     Delishshshshshsh-shious!” he murmured.


“Free!  Free! Free!” he thought to himself.  “I shall run, as the children do.  I shall roll my wheels round and round!.  I shall go like the wind”

Despite the fact that it’s told from the perspective of a talking train, I felt like I learned a lot about the history of trains in the United States.  The book follows the “life” of the train and ends with his retirement in the Henry Ford museum.

Once again, the illustrations were so interesting.


The top of each page was illustrated with a row of trains.


I was surprised by this book, and I enjoyed it very much!




I just finished knitting a great pattern written by my friend Ann.  It’s a hat called #Louder, and it’s a Seahawks hat (this probably goes without saying).  The back design represents the seismograph from the “Beastquake” which results from the fan phenomenon known as “Beastmode”.  I am really not all up and comfortable with the Seahawks terminology, but I have a lot of friends around these parts who definitely are.


As Ann wrote in her pattern, the Beast Quake occurs when the fans are:



There’s a hashtag in front of the Louder too.  I had trouble getting photos which showed everything just right.  My hashtag is a little wonky too.FullSizeRender (1)

I’d love to make another one of these hats. I loved the yarn too.  It’s HiKoo by skacel, and I’d not knit with it before.  Really nice to knit with.  I did block it on my little mannequin head thing. It smoothed out my decreasing at the top a whole lot. It is a roomy hat, and I wonder if I might not go down a needle size if I did it again.  It’s a nice fitting and keep your head warm hat though.  Here’s my little spaghetti-sauced faced Davey modeling it for me (I was doing good to get him to cheerfully pose for me; I didn’t want to push my luck by requiring a clean face as well!).  This is a great pattern for which to practice stranded knitting.  It’s clearly written and very fun!




Newbery Honor 1929: Whew I am done!

It took me awhile to get through 1929.  Some of these books were great.  Some of them were not.

I could not get into Tod of the Fens and Clearing WeatherTod of the Fens is supposed to be a farcical type story, and I could see where there was humor in it, but I got too bogged down in language and what I thought was not a great pace.  I skimmed it.

I wasn’t crazy about Clearing Weather either.  In a nutshell this book is about building a ship and sailing it to Jamaica.  However there’s nothing remotely “in a nutshell” about this long-winded book.  People of color do not fare well in this book which I guess is not surprising given the time in which it takes place and the time in which it is written. To put it briefly, every page I read in this book just made me tired, and I gave myself permission to put it aside (permanently).

I wrote about The PIgtail of Ah Lee Ben Loo in another post.  The best thing about this book (for me) was the amazing illustrations.  I also wrote about Millions of Cats and The Boy Who Was.  These were both excellent books.

Another book I really liked was Runaway Papoose. This book was just delightful.  Nah-Tee, the main character, is a Native American girl who lives in a pueblo in the Southwest.  I like how Grace Moon writes.  For example, she describes riding through the loneliness of the desert:  “This was a jolly loneliness – it was a sparkly daytime loneliness, and there wasn’t a fear thought hiding away anywhere.  Somehow, there was a smile in everything.” Nah-tee and Moyo are two heroic children who work together to complete their quest.  There is adventure, humor, and great love in this story.  This is one of my favorites so far (I think I say this a lot!).

And finally – the Winner!

The Trumpeter of Krakow, by Eric P. Kelly, is an exciting book that takes place in the 1400s in Krakow Poland.  It’s a very fun mystery and adventure story.  I always love a mystery with a good story behind it.  Alchemy is an important part of the story which was fun too.  I really liked this one.


I am glad to put 1929 behind me.  I try not to apply my 2016 perspective to the literature of the 1920s, but these books seem inconsistent.  There are some books that I can not imagine a child ever slogging through, and then there are some books that are wonderful and a delight to read.  It will be interesting to see what the 1930s bring!


Newbery Honor 1929: Runaway Papoose

This book was just delightful.  Nah-Tee, the main character, is a Native American girl who lives in a pueblo in the Southwest.  She is very brave and she meets an also brave friend named Moyo. Nah-tee has become separated from her family, and this book is about their search to find them.

I like how Grace Moon writes.  For example, Nahtee describes riding through the loneliness of the desert:  “This was a jolly loneliness – it was a sparkly daytime loneliness, and there wasn’t a fear thought hiding away anywhere.  Somehow, there was a smile in everything.”

There is some language in a few places that would be considered insensitive in today’s world.  But Nah-tee and Moyo are portrayed as such heroic children who work together to complete their quest, and overall I believe it’s a positive portrayal of independent Native American children.  This is one of my favorites so far (I think I say this a lot!).