Sunday, November 8, 2009

Recent Reads

I realized that it has been ages since I've mentioned anything that I have read. Considering that this was the original purpose of my blog, I am going to rectify that situation. Recently I've taken a course on the Newbery Medal. For those of you who do not know, the Newbery Medal is awarded annually by librarians to a distinguished American Children's book. As students we chose a book from each decade since the award ariginated. Here is my list starting with my favorite and ending with my least favorite.

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson - Some of you may have seen the movie, but of course the book is better. Jesse and Leslie become great friends and play together in a magical land of their imagination. Paterson tells a wonderful story of their friendship and Jesse's grief. Paterson is a great writer and storyteller.

Miracles on Maple Hill by Virginia Sorensen - This book was the biggest surprise for me. Marley and her family decide to move from the city to Maple Hill in hope of healing. The family comes together as they focus on a simpler life. This book has an Anne of Green Gables quality to it that I enjoyed. Give it a try! You just might like it.

Up a Road Slowly by Irene Hunt - This is one of my mom's favorite books. I admit I had read it before, but nothing else from the 60's looked remotely interesting. When Julie's mother dies, she must live with her spinster aunt in the country. Julie matures under the firm, but gentle eye of her aunt. This is the only true coming-of-age story that I read in this course. This is a wonderful, if slightly old fashioned story.

The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth - This short book is a treasure! A Japanese artist is comissioned to paint Buddha surrounded by animals at his death. Cats are the only animals not allowed into heaven in Buddhist tradition. But the artist finds strength from his pet cat and some surprising things happen. This book deserves more credit than it gets. It's from 1931, but is not dated. Not to mention that it is touching.

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron - Lucky lives with her guardian in a desolate town in the Majave Desert. Lucky is searching for her higher power and a way to keep her guardian from abadoning her and returning to France. The quirky characters kept this story alive which was good because the plot was slow to the point of nonexistant

Missing May by Cynthia Rylant - After May's death, Summer and Uncle Ob are trying to grieve. Convinced that May's spirit is trying to make contact with them, Ob, Summer, and their friend Cletus go on a journey to find a medium. This short, well-written book would have traumatized me. If you are looking for a good book by Rylant, I suggest The Van Gogh Cafe.

The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene Du Bois - The concept for this book is fabulous, but the storytelling killed it. In search of privacy a retired teacher intends to live in the sky for a year. Seagulls foil his plan, and he lands on an island assumed to be uninhabited. He discovers great wealth, amazing inventions, and fascinating people. Doesn't it sound like a great book? Well, the way it is told does not make it fun or fascinating.

A Visit to William Blake's Inn by Nancy Willard - This book is significant because it won the Newbery Medal and a Caldecott Honor. During discussions, my classmates and I decided it was forgettable. This is true. Now 2 weeks from reading it, I can't tell you what a single poem contained. It wasn't terrible it just wasn't enough to make it wonderful.

Congratulations you have made it this far. I should give you a prize. Instead I will tell you my least favorite from the course.

Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field - Hitty is a doll whose life begins in Maine (yay!). She travels around the world meeting fascinating people and getting lost and found again. After the first to chapters I lost interest and was not able to figure out why everyone thought this doll was so special. Perhaps I didn't like it because it was the most dated of the bunch.

P.S. If you are wondering why I didn't include classics like The Giver and A Wrinkle in Time, it is because I have already read them. I was trying to expand my knowledge during this course.