I’m still working on my husband’s reversibly-cabled scarf — perhaps I will finish it before the weather turns too much warmer!
I have finished a few more award-winning books in my chronological journey through the winners of the Newbery Medal. I remembered reading The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin (1979) when it was a new book and I was nine or ten years old. This book is a mystery in which the hand-picked residents of an apartment complex are drawn into a quest to figure out who killed Mr. Westing and who will inherit his fortune. There are numerous characters to keep track of, which I remembered finding challenging as a child, but they are well-developed and the plot has enough twists and turns to keep even the most avid mystery fan happy. Mystery isn’t my favorite genre, but this was a fun read and I’m glad to have had the chance to revisit a memorable book from my own childhood.
I also just finished A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl’s Journal, 1830-1832 by Joan W. Blos (1980), which I really enjoyed. As the title suggests, this novel is written as if it were the diary of a young girl growing up in New Hampshire in the early 1830s. Like a real diary, the entries vary from day to day, sometimes short and focused on daily minutiae and other times lengthy, introspective and delving into the big questions of life. Catherine, the focus of the story, is the eldest daughter of a widower who decides to help a runaway slave who has reached out to her in writing, but whom she never actually meets. Through the journal, the reader glimpses into Catherine’s life as she comes to terms with her father’s remarriage and the death of someone she loves, all while she works to piece together a quilt, stitching together tiny pieces to make a carefully-constructed and beautiful whole — a metaphor for life. The day to day life on a New England farming community in the early 19th century is thoughtfully brought to life in this book and I thoroughly enjoyed the gently unfolding pace and tenderness of the author’s storytelling.
I am currently reading Jacob Have I Loved by Katherine Paterson (1981), who also wrote Bridge to Terabithia. The title alludes to the biblical story of Jacob and Esau, twins who are favored unequally by their father and this story, too, focuses on twins, taking the perspective of Louise whose fraternal twin sister, Caroline, has received special attention through most of their lives, both for being medically frail and for being musically gifted. The book is set on a small island in Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay, reachable only by ferry, and the environment and the day to day life of the watermen and their families are captured with careful and loving detail. I am only part-way through the book, but Paterson does a marvelous job so far of capturing the gnawing feeling of adolescent jealousy and the desire to feel special. Marvelously written.
Next up will be a short one: A Visit to William Blake’s Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers by Nancy Willard (1982).
Here’s my recap of the Newbery Medalists from the 1970s (these are my personal opinions and, of course, your mileage may vary):
Best of the 1970s: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Runner Up: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O’Brien (tie)
Runner Up: Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George (tie)
I also especially enjoyed: The Grey King by Susan Cooper, and the entire Dark is Rising series, of which this book is the second to last volume.
This post is part of the weekly yarn along at the delightful blog Small Things. Pop over there to see more posts about knitting, crocheting, and reading!