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.

and

“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.

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

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

 

 

#Louder!!!

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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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!).

Red Top

Yesterday we went on a hike to Red Top Lookout.   Our goal was to get here:

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It was about an hour’s drive from our house, but much of the drive was the climb up a winding dirt road to about 5,000 feet.  Once we got there, the hike was not even a mile long, but it was a steep climb up.

Red Top Lookout is a fire watch tower and is apparently staffed by volunteers in the summer.  They weren’t there yet, so I don’t know what the current status is of that.  When we got to the top, it was locked up.

There were wildflowers in abundance on this hike.

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I also thought this orange moss was pretty cool.

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This hike goes through a beautiful wooded forest for a little while.


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Then it went up steeply along a rather slippery rocky slope.

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There is a cute little outhouse located near the lookout.

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The top is a little scary.  If you are afraid of heights, you might feel a little nervous.  If you are afraid of heights + a slippery steep rock-riddled slope then you might feel more nervous.  This is me B.F. (before fall).

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Immediately after this, Davey and David started heading down while I was taking a few pictures.  Then I started heading down.  Well I slipped and landed on a sharp rock. Fortunately, I didn’t almost fall off the mountain or anything, but I fell hard. Ow.  I was ok (although today I am a little beat up and also have a bruised gluteus maximus).

After that, I went down very gingerly and slowly (probably too gingerly and slowly), but I made it!  The hike up was worth it for this amazing view.

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It was a little cloudy.  We had a 360 degree view, and on a really clear day we would have seen Mt. Rainier and I think Mt. Adams.

This was a beautiful, short, fun, steep and slightly terrifying hike!

Newbery Honor 1929: The Boy Who Was

When I started reading The Boy Who Was, I didn’t think that I was going to like it much. First, I saw that it was going to be another book of short stories.  Second, the book began with stories about the Sirens and Odysseus.  I love Greek mythology, but I have read these stories several times now so I wasn’t too excited about more Greek mythology.

So I began the book with the attitude that I was probably going to be doing some skimming.  Instead, I soon realized that the story was actually about a little Italian goat-herder boy named Nino.  He loved to sit by the seashore and listen to the Sirens sing (the songs did not affect him quite like they did the sailors on the ships!).  One day the Sirens became very distraught when Odysseus outsmarted them by putting wax in the ears of his sailors and strapping himself to the ship.  The Siren sisters felt like failures because their songs didn’t end up in Odysseus wrecking his ship so they threw themselves off a cliff.  Before they did so though, one of the sisters gave Nino eternal life.

The rest of the stories take place during different time periods in Italy.  At least a hundred years pass between almost every story.  Nino turns out to be a quiet wonderful hero.  Once I realized what this book was really about, I no longer wanted to skim.  It has turned out to be one of my favorites.  Some of Nino’s adventures include being present at Pompeii (when Mt. Vesuvius erupts!), and he also has an encounter with Redbeard.

Once again, there are some beautiful illustrations. Here’s Redbeard:

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In the final story, Nino joins a group of bandits who kidnap a very grumpy unkind Prince.  The Prince is miserably overweight and unhappy.  This tale could have served as inspiration for The Biggest Loser (with the exception of the kidnapping part!). The bandits put the prince on a diet and exercise regime and change his life.  In the end, they part as good friends.  It’s a great story.

Here is the unhappy overweight grumpy prince:

Boywhowas1I am learning that I tend to want to give up on a book too quickly.   Sometimes it takes a little while to appreciate what a real gem a book can be.  This book was definitely a gem.

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