Sunday, March 11, 2012

Newbery Update March 11

I’ve finished another pair of books for my Nerdbery Challenge. My pace has definitely slowed a bit, at least partly because I’m also participating in the Slice of Life challenge for March (Hosted by Two writing Teachers). I’m still well on my way to finishing the challenge in two years, though! My update posts aren't as funny as the video posts of Colby Sharp or Mr Schu Reads, the hosts of this lovely challenge... (so go check them out as well!)

Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field  (1930)
Hitty is a sweet tale of the journeys of a doll. We learn about her adventures; from her humble beginnings as a piece of Mountain Ash to her adventures being shipwrecked and honored as an idol by island natives, to her treks through Philadelphia, New Orleans and back home to Maine.
I'll admit that I was skeptical at first. Her first few adventures were a bit crazy. Yet seeing the history of the US through her eyes was interesting... if not completely compelling. I wasn't nearly as fascinated with the changing fashions as Hitty seemed to be; but as an early Newbery book it wasn't bad.
I can actually see children reading and enjoying this tale. That's a plus!

The Cat Who Went to Heaven by Elizabeth Coatsworth (1931)
My initial feedback on Goodreads was this: “This didn't suck. Okay, so when I compare it to the other early Newbery books, it was a good read. Not GREAT, but I didn't struggle through it. It was sweet, and enjoyable, and a quick read.”  Yes, it was sweet. A starving artist is commissioned to paint a Buddha for the local temple. It will make or break his career. Buddha’s death scene – what could be more powerful? The artist describes each animal as he draws it, and gives a short vignette story related to each one. His little cat, though, gets progressively more depressed because he isn’t drawing a cat into the scene. Cats weren’t permitted at Buddha’s deathbed, due to their haughty natures. Will he follow the traditional lore and maybe lose the commission? If you really want to try a Newbery from the 30s, this isn’t a bad one to grab. 

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