Leading up to Christmas, I did a lot of sewing instead of knitting. I worked on a felt Advent calendar, felt food for my niece and nephews, and doll clothes for my daughter’s Waldorf-style doll. My daughter received coupons for additional sewn doll clothes and some felt things in her Christmas stocking as well (a nice compromise between my ambitious desire to make her lots of things and my limited time in which to sew “surprise” items), so I have sewn a few more things for those cashed-in coupons since Christmas as well. But now that I’m picking up needles again, I am continuing to knit my husband’s reversible cable scarf (from Debbie Stoller’s book Son of a Stitch ‘n Bitch: 45 Projects to Knit and Crochet for Men). I had hoped to finish it up before Christmas, but didn’t quite get the chance. I’m holding out hope for casting off before Valentine’s Day, though!
Since my last Yarn Along, I’ve read a few more Newbery Medalists as I continue reading through them chronologically:
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry (1977) by Mildred D. Taylor was a captivating book focused on the Logan family, African American land-owners living in an area of the deep south dominated by share-cropping in the early 20th century. The story is told from the point of view of young Cassie who is beginning to come to grips with the realities of racism in her community and what that means for her family. Taylor does a great job of weaving the important broader context (which includes night riders and other examples of racial violence and intimidation) into the down-to-earth experiences of schoolkids and their families. The Logan children’s young friend TJ, who is presented from the outset as a bit of a show-off, faces particularly harrowing consequences to his choices as the book moves forward. The story is deeply sad, but also beautifully told — by the end of the book, you’ll feel like you know the Logans well, and will wish there was something you could do to help them.
Bridge to Terabithia (1978) by Katherine Paterson is, hands down, one of the best books I’ve read in this journey through the Newbery Medalists. From the first sentence, I was hooked on her fluid, authentic style of writing — her eye for the details that will tell you all you need to know about a character in just a few words is just flawless. The book follows Jess Aarons, a young boy who feels like a bit of an outsider in his farming community because of his deep love of art, and his new friend, Leslie, who moves into the neighboring farmhouse from the city. The child of an author and an academic, Leslie is also labeled as different by a lot of the kids in school and quickly becomes friends with Jess. The two create a magical land of Terabithia in the nearby woods, a secret place where they imagine themselves the king and queen of an enchanted kingdom, doing battle against evil forces and entering a sacred grove of pines when in need of courage or protection. I can’t really tell you more about the book without giving away the ending, but I will say to have your tissues handy. This is an intensely emotional book, but very much worth reading.
Next up is The Westing Game (1979) by Ellen Raskin. This was a favorite of mine when I was a kid, so I’ll be interested to see how I like it, rereading it as an adult. I’m just getting started, but when I finish it, I’ll post my recap list of the best Newbery winners of the 1970s!
Happy reading and knitting/crocheting. And if you want to see what some other avid fiber artists and page-turners are up to, go over to Small Things and read more entries from participants in this week’s Yarn Along!