I realized that I never blogged about several Newberys I read in December and January, so I’m doing a quick roundup.
1993 Missing May by Cynthia Rylant. Rylant is one of my favorite authors for children. She’s so prolific that I am nowhere close to having read all of her books, either. My kids and I adore the Mr. Putter and Tabby series; Cat Heaven makes me bawl just thinking about it; and God Went to Beauty School is a whole book of poetic awesome. I liked Missing May. Rylant writes really good sentences, and the story was more interesting than I thought it would be. It had Newbery written all over it—a scrappy young heroine, a cranky old man, a significant death, and a quirky setting.
1986 Sarah Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan. I’ve read this several times before but wanted to reread it after I read A Gathering of Days. Still one of my favorite Newberys.
1939 Thimble Summer by Elizabeth Enright. The cover and the opening sequence about a runty pig and a girl living on a farm put me in mind of Charlotte’s Web, though there aren’t really other similarities. I loved Thimble Summer: Enright can really write a sentence. But it’s not for everyone. A whole lot of nothing happens for many pages, though there are some nutty plot developments: a homeless boy shows up at their farm and they take him in, because hey, why not? The two girls get locked in the library overnight, because hey, why not? And Garnet decides to run away from her family and hitchhikes and has some adventures, because hey, why not?
1952 Ginger Pye by Eleanor Estes. Then I read Ginger Pye and discovered what it’s really like when a whole lot MORE nothing happens for four times as many pages. This book made me want to cry. And not because it’s sad. Because it was ENDLESS. To prevent tears, I had to start skimming. It’s a book about a dog—who doesn’t die! Who would guess that there could be TWO Newberys where the dog doesn’t die?—BUT the dog doesn’t even make an appearance for like 70 pages. The kids want a dog, they think about getting a dog, they look for just the right dog, then finally, FINALLY, they get a dog. They have the dog for a few pages and it’s a great dog though it never really comes to life as a fully-realized character. And then the dog disappears and the kids spend like 200 pages combing their town over and over and over and over again looking for the lost dog. Then they find it. The End.
2013 The One and Only Ivan by Katharine Applegate. This book got a lot of love from some teachers and librarians whose opinions in books I really trust. I liked it. But I didn’t like it nearly as much as everyone else seems to. I do think it fits the definition of a Newbery very well, and I look forward to rereading it and possibly revising my views and loving it more. Heavy Medal’s early post about the book captures my issues very clearly.