It’s Monday! What’re You Reading?

its monday

Books that won the Newbery Medal or Honor Award

a gathering of daysA Gathering of Days, by Joan W. Blos, is a story of a teenage girl in New Hampshire in 1830 – 1832.  It takes place on a farm in the country during a time before electricity, when schoolbooks called spellers were filled with quotes from the Bible, girls were not allowed to learn upper-level math, slavery was still legal in the South, bartering goods was still a very common form of currency, and daily living was hard work.  Every person in the family once they reached a certain age had to pull their weight.  Boys and men did more work in the fields while the girls and women were vital in running the domestic household.  In the dead of winter, you layered as many dresses and shawls and even your dad’s shirts to keep you warm because you did not have a winter coat.  When Sarah stole one of her family’s quilts and some food to give to a man she had presumed to be a runaway slave in the dead of winter, it was an incredible act of kindness and bravery.  Even the Father of their church instructed his followers not to help any runaway slaves.  I really enjoyed this book because of its historical accuracy in describing the era’s culture and the role of girls and women.  (1980 Newbery Medal Winner)

sarah plain and tallSarah, Plain and Tall by Patricia MacLachlan is the story of Sarah Wheaton, of Maine, who answers a want ad in a newspaper for a wife and mother.  Out west in the 19th century there weren’t many single women in the west.  Women played an important role in child-rearing, cooking, cleaning, sewing clothes and bedding, and adding one more work hand to the family.  Sarah agreed to stay for one month as a trial period with the understanding that she would leave if it didn’t work out.  Jacob and his children, Anna and Caleb, get to know and love Sarah.  She is a strong-willed woman who demands her independence but who is also kind and maternal.  In the next thirty days Sarah discovers how vast and lonely the West can be and how different it is from Maine.  When it is time for Sarah to make a decision, she insists on learning how to drive a horse-drawn wagon and going into town by herself!  This worries the family very much because they can’t think of any other reason she would want to ride into town by herself other than to leave without saying goodbye.  I really enjoyed the story mostly because of the strong family values and the pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstrap mentality that a man needed to have to survive back then.  (1986 Newbery Medal Winner)

the courage of sarah nobleThe Courage of Sarah Noble, by Alice Dalgliesh is based on the historical life of Sarah Noble who travels with her father to Connecticut in 1707 to build a new home on a plot of land he just purchased.  Because it was 1707 and the United States as we know it today was largely unsettled at the time, there is a very real threat of Indians, wild animals, and the cold of the upcoming winter.  In telling the story Sarah is left alone with an Indian family.  They cared for her like a daughter and made her clothes and moccasins out of leather hides.  Sarah learns that her fears were unsubstantiated although there are warring Indian tribes that are to be feared.  I was disappointed in the racial remarks from the mother at the end of the story.  I wonder a little if this had anything to do with racial tension of the 1950’s or if it was actually documented in the author’s research.   (1955 Newbery Honor Book)

my fathers dragonMy Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett and illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett, is  the outlandish story of a boy who has a great adventure saving an enslaved dragon on Wild Island.  A homeless cat that he befriends tells him what to bring to ensure that he will be successful.  The story is full of silly antics as the boy escapes danger by using every item that the cat suggested.  I think it would be good for young audiences.   (1949 Newbery Honor Book)


3 thoughts on “It’s Monday! What’re You Reading?

  1. A Gathering of Days sounds like a wonderful book full of history. Books that take you back in time are always interesting. It’s fun to learn about old times and see how much things have changed over the years. You have a great list of books. Thanks for sharing!


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