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.

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