I have a goal to read all of the Newbery Medal Award books. You can see the full checklist list of books here – Newbery Medal Books. I’ve been able to fit 4 Newbery books into my 2013 reading thus far. Which brings my total to 15 overall.
2004: The Tale of Despereaux: Being the Story of a Mouse, a Princess, Some Soup and a Spool of Thread by Kate DiCamill – A very innocent and sweet story (which is nothing like the movie.)
A word about the movie – Seriously what did they do base the movie on the description from the back of the book and a character list? It is so far off base. The book plot would have made a great movie, why they changed it to be more boring I don’t know.
Back to the book – its a sweet story about mistakes and forgiveness. It goes deep into the heart to show how different people handle disappointment, betrayal and grief. Yet it remains an innocent and fun adventure along the way. I think children will enjoy the story even if they don’t understand the deeper meaning, and adults will enjoy the many layers of depth.
1938: The White Stag by Kate Seredy – So far my least favorite of the Newberry titles. The story is a Hungarian myth of how the Huns and the Magyars emigranted out of Asia and moved Westward toward Europe. Also covers the upbringing of Attila the Hun. As far as mythical writing go it’s not very descriptive, or interesting. As historical fiction it’s not interesting either. The characters are conquers who pretty much kill, maim, rape and enslave their way across the landscape. They aren’t characters you can relate to or even like. The book falls flat.
1933: Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze by Elizabeth Lewis – A very good coming of age story set in revolutionary China. To make it even more interesting I read is shortley after we returned from a trip to China, and one of the places we visited is the city this book is set in. Young Fu and his mother move into the big city, and he becomes the apprentice to a tough old cooper. What he really wants to do however is o learn how to read, however they are too poor to afford tutoring. On top of all of that China is changing, and times are uncertain. It is well written and well woven together. You get a glimpse of China during an important part of history through the eyes of Young Fu and I think you will grow to like Young Fu and care for him.
1926: Shen of The Sea : Chinese Stories for Children by Arthur Bowie Chrisman – This book is a sort of collection of Chinese-esque folk lore. I say Chinese-esque because they are set in China and have a mythic quality, but their origin is not actual Chinese mythology or lore. The stories mostly cover moral tales about hard work, clevarness and respect and the discovery of things like fireworks, tea, and ink.
Currently Reading: Supertoys Last All Summer Long: And Other Stories of Future Time