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: 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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