The Straight Dope

Go Back   Straight Dope Message Board > Main > Cafe Society

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
  #51  
Old 02-03-2017, 10:04 AM
RetroVertigo RetroVertigo is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Maniac Magee
Reply With Quote
Advertisements  
  #52  
Old 02-03-2017, 11:43 AM
koeeoaddi koeeoaddi is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2003
I haven't re-read it as an adult, but my nine year old self enthusiastically votes for It's Like This, Cat, by Emily Neville.
Reply With Quote
  #53  
Old 02-03-2017, 12:01 PM
Catamount Catamount is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
No contest, Dicey's Song. That one will stay with me forever, even if I have no idea how to pronounce the main character's name.
Reply With Quote
  #54  
Old 02-03-2017, 12:35 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: San Jose
Posts: 31,781
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ukulele Ike View Post
Kind of shocking to me that neither THE PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH (1961)....
Not only is that a great book, but the film captured the concept very well.
Reply With Quote
  #55  
Old 02-03-2017, 12:53 PM
Wednesday Evening Wednesday Evening is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Sep 2008
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wednesday Evening View Post
I've read 24 of them. While my personal favorites are The Hero and The Crown and The Westing Game, for all-time best I think I would have to go with A Wrinkle in Time.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDeth View Post
It is very good, but imho the series didnt hold up, unlike the The Dark is Rising sequence.
The Dark is Rising sequence is one of my favorite series. I think I agree, if you're looking at series as a whole The Dark is Rising sequence is superior to the Wrinkle in Time series.

Not that I need to add any more books to my want-to-read list (300+ and growing), but I now want to read all the winners that others have recommended and I haven't read.
Reply With Quote
  #56  
Old 02-03-2017, 02:17 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 67,261
That depends on where you cut off the Wrinkle in Time series. The first two are great, A Swiftly Tilting Planet is meh, Many Waters is decent, and the ones written many years later about Meg's daughter are absolute drek.
Reply With Quote
  #57  
Old 02-03-2017, 02:20 PM
jsgoddess jsgoddess is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Catamount View Post
No contest, Dicey's Song. That one will stay with me forever, even if I have no idea how to pronounce the main character's name.
I've always mentally said it like the adjective. It fits her personality, too!
Reply With Quote
  #58  
Old 02-03-2017, 05:24 PM
Catamount Catamount is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by jsgoddess View Post
I've always mentally said it like the adjective. It fits her personality, too!
That's the way I've always said it, but I wasn't sure if it was correct.
Reply With Quote
  #59  
Old 02-03-2017, 08:05 PM
Patx2 Patx2 is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Nov 2016
Quote:
Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
I think I've read 27 of them. Currently my third graders are finishing up producing films for the 90-second Newbery film festival, based on the three Newberies we've read this year: Bud, Not Buddy; Last Stop on Market Street; and The Tale of Despereaux.

Given that I've done them as read-alouds, I clearly recommend all three. My favorite, though is probably The Tale of Despereaux. It's so funny, and so beautiful, and so full of rich symbolism and pathos. The movie is an abomination, but the book? Just about perfect.

Bud, Not Buddy and Holes both come in a close second, though--if you have any love at all for children's lit, both are well worth reading.
I agree, The Tale of Despereaux is a great read!
Reply With Quote
  #60  
Old 02-03-2017, 08:26 PM
Ukulele Ike Ukulele Ike is online now
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 13,742
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDeth View Post
Not only is that a great book, but the film captured the concept very well.
You mean the animated film from...1968? Sweet horns of Satan, are you serious?

Or is there another movie I don't know about?
Reply With Quote
  #61  
Old 02-03-2017, 08:29 PM
jsgoddess jsgoddess is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
I think I'm going to make a point of trying to read through this list. Join me if you're feeling brave!
Reply With Quote
  #62  
Old 02-03-2017, 08:47 PM
Ukulele Ike Ukulele Ike is online now
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 13,742
Oooo, start with THE VOYAGES OF DR. DOOLITTLE. Great story! The scene where he fucks with the Spanish bullfight -- which he considers vicious and cruel entertainment -- would warm the heart of any PETA member. And I've been thinking about racist angle I mentioned earlier in the thread...

The African Prince, who was a real shuffle-and-jive stereotype in the original novel, reappears here, but now he's a bona fide hero and cuts a true royal figure. The Red Indian zoologist (I can't call him Native American, because I don't remember where he's from) is every bit the equal of Dr. Wonderbread Doolittle as a naturalist, and surpasses him as an expert in marine animal life. In fact, Doolittle undertakes the whole voyage in order to meet him. Even though he runs around without pants.

When my kids were small I made an effort to get an old edition of the book to make sure it wasn't Bowlderized. So maybe it's not as bigoted as I thought, years ago.

Last edited by Ukulele Ike; 02-03-2017 at 08:50 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #63  
Old 02-04-2017, 01:16 AM
Baker Baker is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Dec 1999
Location: Tottering-on-the-Brink
Posts: 18,033
It depends on how old I was when I read the books which one is/was a favorite.

When I was ten or eleven it was King of the Wind. A little older and it was Johnny Tremain or The Witch of Blackbird Pond. In my late teens it would have been The High King.

I did read A Wrinkle in Time and I agee with those who wonder why some folks think it's so good. Okay I suppose, but nothing special.
Reply With Quote
  #64  
Old 02-04-2017, 09:43 AM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: 地球
Posts: 25,707
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahaloth View Post
The Giver
:hangs head in shame:

I did not check the list before posting.

The Giver is great, but I failed to realize the Westing Game had won the award. The Westing Game is one of my favorite novels ever published and is clearly the best Newberry winner.

I can not recommend the Westing Game enough.
Reply With Quote
  #65  
Old 02-04-2017, 12:43 PM
Dr_Paprika Dr_Paprika is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
A big reader -- I've read six of these books. None are favourites, and not read enough of them to conjecture which is best. I liked Johnny Tremain and Neil Gaiman's.
Reply With Quote
  #66  
Old 02-04-2017, 12:50 PM
Left Hand of Dorkness Left Hand of Dorkness is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
I need to reread The Westing Game. Every year my mom tries to convince me to do it as a read-aloud for my class, and I keep putting off the reread.
Reply With Quote
  #67  
Old 02-04-2017, 02:47 PM
jsgoddess jsgoddess is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
I need to reread The Westing Game. Every year my mom tries to convince me to do it as a read-aloud for my class, and I keep putting off the reread.
I haven't read it in years, but I remember thinking it was stellar.
Reply With Quote
  #68  
Old 02-04-2017, 05:59 PM
Mahaloth Mahaloth is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: 地球
Posts: 25,707
Quote:
Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
I need to reread The Westing Game. Every year my mom tries to convince me to do it as a read-aloud for my class, and I keep putting off the reread.
I'm a teacher and I taught it for advanced English at my school(middle-school). I read it 6-8 times that year and had already read it before that. Honestly, it benefits from having already reading it once. I have my copy circled, underlined, and highlighted. It's a masterpiece.
Reply With Quote
  #69  
Old 02-04-2017, 06:29 PM
Dendarii Dame Dendarii Dame is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2011
Quote:
Originally Posted by Left Hand of Dorkness View Post
I need to reread The Westing Game. Every year my mom tries to convince me to do it as a read-aloud for my class, and I keep putting off the reread.
Okay, I remember thinking it was a great mystery and being so mad at myself that I didn't figure it out, but that's all. Clearly I need to reread it.
Reply With Quote
  #70  
Old 02-04-2017, 09:14 PM
Chronos Chronos is online now
Charter Member
Moderator
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: The Land of Cleves
Posts: 67,261
And I sort of thought I had read The Westing Game, but I don't remember it at all. And if it's all you guys are saying, I'd think I would have remembered it. So I obviously need to dig that one up, too.
Reply With Quote
  #71  
Old 02-04-2017, 09:38 PM
elfkin477 elfkin477 is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: NH
Posts: 21,384
Another vote for Dicey's Song by Cynthia Voigt. The whole series was incredible, and I read all of them over and over as a kid/teen.

Catamount, they made The Homecoming into a movie. It's pronounced the same way as you do the adjective.
__________________
Stalk follow me on Twitter
Reply With Quote
  #72  
Old 02-04-2017, 09:59 PM
bmoak bmoak is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
By my count, I've read nine, but none after 1980. I'll go with Bridge to Terabithia, which probably had as much emotional impact on me as any book I read in my childhood.
Reply With Quote
  #73  
Old 02-04-2017, 10:31 PM
bmoak bmoak is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jul 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
That depends on where you cut off the Wrinkle in Time series. The first two are great, A Swiftly Tilting Planet is meh, Many Waters is decent, and the ones written many years later about Meg's daughter are absolute drek.
I actually think A Swiftly Tilting Planet is one of the best plotted and written of L'Engle's books. The odd thing about the "later" books about Meg's daughter is that L'Engle started writing them before Meg and Calvin were referred to as married in the series. The first was written even BEFORE a Wind in the Door.
Reply With Quote
  #74  
Old 02-04-2017, 10:36 PM
Ulf the Unwashed Ulf the Unwashed is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
As a boy growing up in the sixties and seventies, I read very few of the "early" Newbery winners, meaning roughly the ones through 1960. I read Ginger Pye, which was mostly forgettable, or at least I have mostly forgotten it; I liked Eleanor Estes's Moffat books better anyway.

I read Doctor Dolittle, but never the sequel that won the award. (I had not been aware till now, btw, that Lofting wrote these books while living in the US.)

I knew a few kids who read and enjoyed Johnny Tremain, Rabbit Hill, and Caddie Woodlawn, all mentioned in earlier posts, but I didn't read them as a kid.

As an adult, I read a few that I wasn't familiar with as a boy--The Wheel on the School, Carry on Mr. Bowditch, and A Door in the Wall--and wasn't impressed with any of them.

It's interesting to me how many of the first 40 winners or so had already disappeared from the public consciousness even by the time I was a kid, and how many of the rest are thoroughly gone by now. I read enthusiastically as a kid, and certain parents and teachers were forever trying to steer me away from the Hardy Boys and books about baseball, but no one ever handed me a copy of Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze (1933), or Miss Hickory (1947), or even Rifles for Watie (1958).

Some of it was a sense of "Let's choose something really interesting" on the part of the committee, sometimes in direct opposition to "Let's choose something that kids will actually want to read." A Door in the Wall read like the author had said, "I want to write a book to teach kids about the medieval era, let's see if I can put an interesting story around it." (The author couldn't.) Charlotte's Web lost out in part because one committee member, looking at its competitor Secret of the Andes, said that it had been a long time since she'd seen a good book about South America...

My favorites as a child (from among the Newbery winners 1960-1975) were Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and A Wrinkle in Time. I'd still say they are great books, but when I reread them as an adult they didn't seem as strong. I know that the underlying message of Wrinkle in Time is that love conquers all, and Charles Wallace gets into trouble relying too heavily on his intellect, but as an adult I was really turned off by all the "smart people are special" and "oh, it's so hard to be a smart person" that seemed to litter every page of the book. (Later on L'Engle wrote Many Waters, in which Meg's "ordinary" twin brothers were the main characters, and it was just an awful book, partly because she was completely unable to get into the heads and hearts of people who were only of ordinary intelligence.) By the way, for those who think the book is excessively Christian, it's interesting to note that it has been attacked on numerous occasions by members of the Christian right.

I would say that the Newbery Award winners from about 1975 to 2000, as a group, were particularly strong, though of course the ones I've read I've only read as an adult. (I was a classroom teacher for a good chunk of this time, and a writer for some of it as well, so I had a professional interest.) Some that stand out: Bridge to Terabithia, Sarah Plain and Tall, Number the Stars; but there are lots of other very good ones as well. My daughter LOVED A Visit to William Blake's Inn.

Unlike some, I'm not a big fan of The Giver. I echo the criticism that the world doesn't make sense--which usually isn't a concern of mine but stood out sharply here--and I couldn't figure out what happened at the end. (Turned out there was a good reason for this. I heard Lois Lowry speak shortly after the book was published--she was an OUTSTANDING speaker, by the way--and someone asked her what happened at the end, and she shrugged and said she had no idea.)

If I had to choose just one it would probably be Bridge to Terabithia. But tomorrow it might be Sarah, Plain and Tall. Who knows??

--My work in education has changed somewhat since 2000, and so I'm not as familiar with the award winners as I used to be. Some of you probably know there has been a lot of controversy about the awards since then--a lot of complaints that once again the awards are being given to books that librarians think children OUGHT to like rather than to books that they DO like. Also that many of the books are too difficult for kids, either thematically or in terms of reading level.

As a result, the award has lost some of its cachet. I'm sure part of the reason that the more recent books aren't being mentioned in this thread is simply demographic--we remember our reading from childhood best, and most of us were kids before 2000 or so--but some of it is that these books aren't necessarily all that interesting to read. (I do want to read Despereaux, now, though.)

Interesting thread. Thanks for starting it.

Last edited by Ulf the Unwashed; 02-04-2017 at 10:38 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #75  
Old 02-04-2017, 11:14 PM
Left Hand of Dorkness Left Hand of Dorkness is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 1999
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulf the Unwashed View Post
Some of you probably know there has been a lot of controversy about the awards since then--a lot of complaints that once again the awards are being given to books that librarians think children OUGHT to like rather than to books that they DO like. Also that many of the books are too difficult for kids, either thematically or in terms of reading level.

As a result, the award has lost some of its cachet. I'm sure part of the reason that the more recent books aren't being mentioned in this thread is simply demographic--we remember our reading from childhood best, and most of us were kids before 2000 or so--but some of it is that these books aren't necessarily all that interesting to read. (I do want to read Despereaux, now, though.)
I didn't know that controversy existed, but I believe it. If I put the books into ought-to-like vs. do-like, here are my thoughts for the ones I've read since 2000:

2016: Last Stop on Market Street--I think it's the only picture book ever to win. Short and sweet, but probably more in the ought-to-like category.
2014: Flora and Ulysses--it was my daughter's all-time favorite book when she was five. It's got a superhero flying squirrel. It also has divorce and custody battles, but on my daughter's recommendation, I put it in do-like.
2013: The One and Only Ivan. A teacher across the hall always does it as a read-aloud. Not me: it's a well-written tale of unstopping animal abuse, complete with death of a beloved character. Ought-to-like for sure.
2012: Dead End in Norvelt: Ought to like? I can't even tell, I thought it was terrible, a failed attempt at funny and a failed attempt at deep. No idea why it won.
2009: The Graveyard Book: Do like definitely. Not deep, no Great Life Lessons, but pretty fun.
2004: The Tale of Despereaux: Do like, but also ought-to-like
2000: Bud, Not Buddy: Both again. It sounds soul-crushing from the synopsis (in 1938 or so a black orphaned boy escapes from an abusive foster family and sets out across a racist nation to try to find his father), but it's funny as hell and full of action. The main character is so thoroughly likeable, and the humor is so strong, that it's barely ever depressing.
Reply With Quote
  #76  
Old 02-04-2017, 11:26 PM
Thudlow Boink Thudlow Boink is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2000
Location: Lincoln, IL
Posts: 22,611
As a child, I remember loving Mrs Frisby and the Rats of NIMH (read aloud to us by a teacher), being moved by The Bronze Bow, and liking A Wrinkle In Time at least well enough to seek out the sequels. I loved the Chronicles of Prydain (including The High King) and liked but wasn't as impressed by the Dark Is Rising sequence (including The Grey King).
Reply With Quote
  #77  
Old 02-04-2017, 11:38 PM
Rilchiam Rilchiam is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
If I had to choose a favorite, it would be a tie between Caddie Woodlawn and A Wrinkle in Time. Ginger Pye and Island of the Blue Dolphins would be tied for second. Thing is, very few of the books on the list of medal winners were my overall favorites when I was a kid. But it is worth noting that they "honor" some books; it's not medal or nothing. Honorees include Charlotte's Web, some of Eleanor Estes' Moffat books, and a lot of Elizabeth Enright. (Still no Phantom Tollbooth, though. And Edward Eager never got within spitting distance!) It's the honorees, like the Little House books, that were more likely to make my heart go pit-a-pat.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ukulele Ike View Post

Ah, well, awards are awards. Both Sunset Boulevard and All About Eve lost out on the 1950 Best Picture Oscar to Born Yesterday.
All About Eve did win the Best Picture Oscar.

But Newberry is kind of like the Oscars. To win an acting award, it helps to play a character who triumphs over some hardship, like war or disability. To get a Newberry medal, it helps to have a dead parent, friend or pet, or at least some major trauma. Notice how Beverly Cleary, despite getting numerous honors, didn't get an actual Newberry medal until 1984, for Dear Mr. Henshaw? Because that was about a child of divorce, whose life pretty much sucked. It's probably one of the least read of all her books, but it was depressing, so it got medaled.

And now I'm thinking of Blubber, by Judy Blume. The school has a Halloween costume contest, and the prizes are books with medals on them. "One was pretty good but the other was so boring I never finished it." In the end, kids will choose their own favorites. (And personally, if I had to choose between reading Johnny Tremain again and chewing my own arm off, I'd be typing this one-handed.)
Reply With Quote
  #78  
Old 02-05-2017, 09:17 PM
Ukulele Ike Ukulele Ike is online now
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 13,742
Ah, shit. I done mixed up the Best Picture Oscar with the Best Actress Oscar. Judy Holliday DID beat out both Gloria Swanson and Bette Davis.
Reply With Quote
  #79  
Old 02-05-2017, 09:22 PM
Ukulele Ike Ukulele Ike is online now
Charter Member
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 1999
Location: Brooklyn
Posts: 13,742
On a happier note, I came across my kids' copy of The Westing Game on a basement bookshelf while I was looking for another book today. That'll be tomorrow's project up until I need to start the frijoles and green mole sauce for dinner.
Reply With Quote
  #80  
Old 02-06-2017, 11:55 AM
peedin peedin is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 1,972
I printed the list. I've downloaded Voyages of DD from the library, and The Westing Game is on hold. I have a vague suspicion I've read The Westing Game. Read Dear Mr. Henshaw over the weekend and I agree that it got the Newbery because it was not a happy. Cleary wrote much better books than this. Give me Henry Huggins!
Reply With Quote
  #81  
Old 02-06-2017, 12:16 PM
Gedd Gedd is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Jan 2010
I know for sure I've read 10, but I also know several more that I can't recall reading where in my house growing up.

I don't know I can pick one. The Giver is awesome, as an adult I enjoyed Holes, and From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler was fun (I want to live in a museum!).

This list did give me about 100 books to buy for home though.

Last edited by Gedd; 02-06-2017 at 12:16 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #82  
Old 02-06-2017, 01:49 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: San Jose
Posts: 31,781
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rilchiam View Post
And Edward Eager never got within spitting distance!)
Edward Eager wrote charming childrens fantasy. Good for kids of most ages.

Parents take note!
Reply With Quote
  #83  
Old 02-06-2017, 01:59 PM
ChockFullOfHeadyGoodness ChockFullOfHeadyGoodness is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2001
Location: Hollywood Riveria, CA
Posts: 1,856
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulf the Unwashed View Post
Some of it was a sense of "Let's choose something really interesting" on the part of the committee, sometimes in direct opposition to "Let's choose something that kids will actually want to read." A Door in the Wall read like the author had said, "I want to write a book to teach kids about the medieval era, let's see if I can put an interesting story around it."

**snip**

a lot of complaints that once again the awards are being given to books that librarians think children OUGHT to like rather than to books that they DO like..
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rilchiam View Post
But Newberry is kind of like the Oscars. To win an acting award, it helps to play a character who triumphs over some hardship, like war or disability. To get a Newberry medal, it helps to have a dead parent, friend or pet, or at least some major trauma.
My kids and I noticed this as well. We joked that the ultimate Newberry book would be about a handicapped librarian whose dog is killed by racists.

The "Newberry-bait" was the reason I didn't care for the 2010 winner "When You Reach Me". The book reads like the author took a spreadsheet of topics that won in previous years, assembled the various pieces, and slapped a mild sci-fi veneer to sucker someone reading the back cover into reading it.
Let's see...
Tween girl coming of age story? Check
Girl loves reading, complete with shout-outs to an earlier Newberry winner? Check
Subplot with single mom's struggles with sexism? Check
"Racism is bad, mm-kay?" subplot? Check
Climax with death of a character? Check
Not to mention the climactic Twilight Zone-ish twist was obvious about 1/3 of the way into the book. Only thing missing was a dead pet.
Reply With Quote
  #84  
Old 02-06-2017, 05:08 PM
thelurkinghorror thelurkinghorror is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rilchiam View Post
(And personally, if I had to choose between reading Johnny Tremain again and chewing my own arm off, I'd be typing this one-handed.)
Deform yourself? Why didn't you say so?! They should call you "Rilchiam Deformed"!
Reply With Quote
  #85  
Old 02-06-2017, 06:31 PM
eclectic wench eclectic wench is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
I quit reading these somewhere in the late 80s/early 90s. Of the ones I read, The High King is great, so is The Witch of Blackbird Pond, so is The Westing Game. I really liked a handful of the others, too, but those are the three where I still have my childhood copies.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
I haven't been able to finish The Dark is Rising series. Over Sea, Under Stone was excellent, but The Dark is Rising seemed too "easy" to me: The main character is magical because he just is, and every single aspect of the quest is just handed to him on a silver (or wooden or other metal) platter just for existing. He never had to actually try for anything. Similarly for Greenwitch, which can be summarized as "Give us the MacGuffin" "No." "Pretty please?" "Well, OK then.".
When I first read them when I was ten, I would have challenged you to a duel for saying that...but when I reread them even a couple of years later, I felt exactly the same way. Will never does anything, he never has to fight or change or grow in order to get any of the Signs; he just shows up in the right place at the right time, and there they are.

A Wrinkle in Time is another one that I loved when I was about ten but went off just a few years later. It's got a coy messagey-ness that made me want to make juvenile barfing noises, and I remember thinking that Charles Wallace needed a good kick up the hole, although I don't remember exactly why. The only Madeleine L'Engle that I still liked after I hit about fifteen is A Swiftly Tilting Planet.

I remember reading some of these and thinking that they were the kind of books that an adult who had never known any kids would pick for kids, rather than the kind of book any kid would ever pick. Up a Road Slowly, for example. Some of them were worthy and good, like Island of the Blue Dolphins, but others...sheesh.
Reply With Quote
  #86  
Old 02-07-2017, 12:01 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
I was going to vote for The Grey King but agree that it's a little unfair to count series books, as one can't really disregard the rest of the series, so I will be very happy to vote for The Hero and the Crown.
Reply With Quote
  #87  
Old 02-07-2017, 01:06 PM
DrDeth DrDeth is online now
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: San Jose
Posts: 31,781
Quote:
Originally Posted by eclectic wench View Post

When I first read them when I was ten, I would have challenged you to a duel for saying that...but when I reread them even a couple of years later, I felt exactly the same way. Will never does anything, he never has to fight or change or grow in order to get any of the Signs; he just shows up in the right place at the right time, and there they are.

He does do some stuff.

I just reread them and I still liked them. Greenwitch stuck with me more than the Grey King.
Reply With Quote
  #88  
Old 02-07-2017, 03:53 PM
gkster gkster is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2012
Quote:
Originally Posted by hogarth View Post
"The Westing Game" is the type of "clever" book I loved as a kid. I suspect now I'd prefer "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH".

I absolutely, positively could not stand "I, Juan de Pareja". It was s-o-o-o-o-o boring, but I was forced to read it in elementary school; I think we were each arbitrarily assigned a Newberry book to read and I got stuck with that one. Maybe I'd appreciate it more now that I've developed more tolerance to slow-moving books.
I, Juan de Pareja is one of my favorite Newbery winners. I've always been a historical fiction fan and in this one I love the warmth of the characters and their relationships.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronos View Post
I haven't been able to finish The Dark is Rising series. Over Sea, Under Stone was excellent, but The Dark is Rising seemed too "easy" to me: The main character is magical because he just is, and every single aspect of the quest is just handed to him on a silver (or wooden or other metal) platter just for existing. He never had to actually try for anything. Similarly for Greenwitch, which can be summarized as "Give us the MacGuffin" "No." "Pretty please?" "Well, OK then.".
LOL, this is exactly my objection to The Dark is Rising series. Why is Will magic? Just because he's the seventh son of a seventh son, does a couple of tasks and that's it?! And in contrast other value / belief systems like Christianity are so misguided and foolish?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mahaloth View Post
:hangs head in shame:
The Giver is great, but I failed to realize the Westing Game had won the award. The Westing Game is one of my favorite novels ever published and is clearly the best Newberry winner.
I can not recommend the Westing Game enough.
Anyone care to explain what it is about The Westing Game that people love? I thought that it was cute, and Turtle was fun, but I couldn't really get into it.


I've read 47 of the Newbery winners--I teach Children's Lit on the college level, but the reason I teach it is that I love, adore, live for reading children's books and even before teaching Children's Lit I had already read 16 of the winners.

Probably my current favorite is Bridge to Terabithia. Years ago when I was a teenager I loved Johnny Tremain and A Wrinkle in Time but I'm not as big a fan of them any more. Out of the Dust is a relatively recent one that I think is excellent, as well as The Graveyard Book. And a nod to a couple which are uneven but have their high points, Walk Two Moons (a real tearjerker in spots) and And Now Miguel.

Last edited by gkster; 02-07-2017 at 03:56 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #89  
Old 02-07-2017, 04:27 PM
delphica delphica is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by gkster View Post

Anyone care to explain what it is about The Westing Game that people love? I thought that it was cute, and Turtle was fun, but I couldn't really get into it.
There are a couple of things that come together to make me like it so much. First, it has a good combination of humor and genuine emotion. It's funny, but not so slapstick that the characters don't seem real, or that their problems don't seem genuine.

Second, it hits a perfect zone of layers of complexity, where a younger reader can follow the basic gist, and a somewhat older reader picks up even more clues and details about the mystery. I remember coming back to it at different ages and getting more each time.

And third, as I kid, I really liked that it was obviously a book written for kids, but it assumed that kids were perfectly capable of understanding the storylines that were more about the adults. I don't know if that would have struck me so much had I read this book for the first time as an adult, but it really made an impression on me that the author assumed that kids could understand fairly serious things.
Reply With Quote
  #90  
Old 02-07-2017, 06:27 PM
eclectic wench eclectic wench is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDeth View Post
He does do some stuff.

I just reread them and I still liked them. Greenwitch stuck with me more than the Grey King.
I haven't reread them in a long time, so my memory isn't going to be as fresh as yours. But if you compare them to the Chronicles of Prydain (since those are also on the list)... Taran gets into his adventures because he chooses to - in other words, because of who he is as a person; he's very specifically and explicitly not destined for them by birth. He has to earn his way to every step. Will gets into his because he's the seventh son of a seventh son, end of story - nothing to do with choice, or with who he is as a person. Taran's constantly having to figure out solutions to the problems he runs into, find new reserves of courage or good sense or resourcefulness or self-sacrifice, grow to meet the situation's demands; half the time Merriman points Will straight to the Sign, and the other half he just needs to have basic doggedness, remember the rules of the magic and not do anything seriously dumb. Taran grows and changes enormously over the course of the five books, there's huge character development; Will is, basically, always the same, only with more knowledge of how the magic works.

Just for an example - there's a moment I remember (I may be getting the details wrong) where Will and Merriman are inside some hall, and the Dark imitates Will's mother's voice calling him from outside. Merriman tells him that if he opens the door, the Dark will kill him. Will rushes over to open it anyway. At the last minute, he whacks his arm off one of the Signs on his belt and it burns him, and the burn shocks him into realising that isn't his mother. It's not his own inner resources, his own choices, that save the day: it's something external that's halfway between deus ex machina and pure chance.

I think I'd probably still like the books now - I remember then being well written and having some lovely eerie world-building and atmosphere. But the lack of an active protagonist with real character development really weakens them for me.
Reply With Quote
  #91  
Old 02-08-2017, 09:39 AM
peedin peedin is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 1,972
Thanks for starting this thread. It's giving me warm fuzzies of being a kid and allowing me to revisit some of my favorites. I read The Westing Game last night (for the first time) and thought meh. I really don't think it was Newbery material. Think I will read Johnny Tremain next.
Reply With Quote
  #92  
Old 02-08-2017, 10:03 AM
cmkeller cmkeller is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Mar 1999
gkster:

Quote:
Anyone care to explain what it is about The Westing Game that people love? I thought that it was cute, and Turtle was fun, but I couldn't really get into it.
1) The characters have hidden selves that grow and are revealed, naturally, over the course of the book.
2) The character of Judge Ford trying to desperately beat Sam Westing in his ultimate chess game from (what she thinks, at least throughout most of the book) beyond the grave. Heck, the whole chess theme quietly underlying the book...it was many re-readings before I realized that the 16 heirs = 16 pieces per side on a chess board.
3) The subtle connections that are there to be discovered throughout the book.
4) The mystery of the genuine answer to Sam Westing's puzzle, and the brilliant misdirection. It's there for the reader to solve, but the reader never sees it coming.
5) The poignant aftermath chapters

It's a brilliant book that benefits from re-reading, because you pick up new pieces that you realize you missed with every re-read. This book is not so much written as woven from character threads, into a beautiful tapestry.
Reply With Quote
  #93  
Old 02-08-2017, 12:19 PM
Zsofia Zsofia is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2001
Quote:
Originally Posted by DrDeth View Post
He does do some stuff.

I just reread them and I still liked them. Greenwitch stuck with me more than the Grey King.
The Grey King got me via the Welsh setting, the vague creepiness of the whole thing, and then, you know. The Newbery Bait part.

SPOILER:

the goddamned dog dies


I loved Silver on the Tree also but really just the first half with the drowned lands; the resolution is kinda meh, and I always thought the ending for the regular humans was so unjust.
Reply With Quote
  #94  
Old 02-09-2017, 11:36 AM
Elendil's Heir Elendil's Heir is offline
SDSAB
 
Join Date: Jun 2004
Location: North Coast
Posts: 66,216
Rabbit Hill by Robert Lawson (1945), a charming book about the animals on a rural American estate, although I actually prefer his Captain Kidd's Cat, a favorite of my childhood, which should've won in 1956.
Reply With Quote
  #95  
Old 02-09-2017, 12:06 PM
Dangerosa Dangerosa is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Quote:
Originally Posted by peedin View Post
I'm the lone hater of A Wrinkle in Time. IMHO the best is From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler. I don't buy many fiction books, but that one has a place of honor on my shelves.
You and I have similar tastes. Wrinkle in Time makes me wrinkle my nose. But I go back to Claudia running away to the Met with some frequency. Frankly, what intelligent adventurous, bookworm wouldn't prefer Claudia to Meg?

I remember liking The Westing Game, but being thrilled by another of Raskin's books "The Mysterious Disappearance of Leon, I mean Noel" which I picked up at a second hand bookstore a few years ago and am still delighted by.
Reply With Quote
  #96  
Old 02-09-2017, 02:01 PM
peedin peedin is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Posts: 1,972
Johnny Tremain and Thimble Summer waiting to be picked up at the library.....
Reply With Quote
  #97  
Old 02-10-2017, 11:44 AM
gkster gkster is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2012
Dendarii Dame, you said in your original post that you hadn't read the 2003, 2005-7 winners? FWIW Here are my comments.
2007: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron: nice, sweet, not bad, but not really in the same league as other winners.
2006: Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins: My daughter read it in middle school and loved it. I liked it well enough and can see why it won; while it's low-key, it's funny, reflective and realistic, there's no forced happily ever after ending. It also features a wonderful definition of the concept "satori."
2005: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata: racism and a kid with cancer, sounds like award-bait, but my feeling was that the author pulled it off without it looking contrived. Award-worthy.
2003: Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi: I enjoy historical fiction and so was predisposed to like this, but several things about it including a major plot point struck me as inauthentic and rubbed me the wrong way. It reminded me of one of those video games set in a pseudo-medieval world.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ulf the Unwashed View Post
Some of it was a sense of "Let's choose something really interesting" on the part of the committee, sometimes in direct opposition to "Let's choose something that kids will actually want to read." A Door in the Wall read like the author had said, "I want to write a book to teach kids about the medieval era, let's see if I can put an interesting story around it." (The author couldn't.) Charlotte's Web lost out in part because one committee member, looking at its competitor Secret of the Andes, said that it had been a long time since she'd seen a good book about South America...

My favorites as a child (from among the Newbery winners 1960-1975) were Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler and A Wrinkle in Time. I'd still say they are great books, but when I reread them as an adult they didn't seem as strong. I know that the underlying message of Wrinkle in Time is that love conquers all, and Charles Wallace gets into trouble relying too heavily on his intellect, but as an adult I was really turned off by all the "smart people are special" and "oh, it's so hard to be a smart person" that seemed to litter every page of the book. (Later on L'Engle wrote Many Waters, in which Meg's "ordinary" twin brothers were the main characters, and it was just an awful book, partly because she was completely unable to get into the heads and hearts of people who were only of ordinary intelligence.) By the way, for those who think the book is excessively Christian, it's interesting to note that it has been attacked on numerous occasions by members of the Christian right.

[snip]

Unlike some, I'm not a big fan of The Giver. I echo the criticism that the world doesn't make sense--which usually isn't a concern of mine but stood out sharply here--and I couldn't figure out what happened at the end. (Turned out there was a good reason for this. I heard Lois Lowry speak shortly after the book was published--she was an OUTSTANDING speaker, by the way--and someone asked her what happened at the end, and she shrugged and said she had no idea.)
[snip]

Interesting thread. Thanks for starting it.
Yes, thanks for starting the thread!

Ulf the Unwashed, great points. You remind me of why I enjoyed Wrinkle in Time as a kid--it made me feel better about being nerdy, different and wearing glasses. Yes, Many Waters was a book that just didn't work. And I'm biased in favor of Madeleine L'Engle--I attended a writing seminar with her 25 years ago and she's smart, kind and generous. She chuckled about Wrinkle being attacked by the Christian Right as "New Age" and pagan; for those who care to read more about her, here's an interview: http://www.leaderu.com/marshill/mhr04/lengle1.html

I read Story of the Andes, curious to know how it could have edged out Charlotte's Web and found it readable enough--but yes, the reason it won had to be "We need a book with an international background." Which BTW is a big theme in the early winners like Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze

Thanks for the inside dope on the ending of The Giver, now I feel better at not being able to figure it out

Quote:
Originally Posted by ChockFullOfHeadyGoodness View Post
My kids and I noticed this as well. We joked that the ultimate Newberry book would be about a handicapped librarian whose dog is killed by racists.

The "Newberry-bait" was the reason I didn't care for the 2010 winner "When You Reach Me". The book reads like the author took a spreadsheet of topics that won in previous years, assembled the various pieces, and slapped a mild sci-fi veneer to sucker someone reading the back cover into reading it.
Let's see...
Tween girl coming of age story? Check
Girl loves reading, complete with shout-outs to an earlier Newberry winner? Check
Subplot with single mom's struggles with sexism? Check
"Racism is bad, mm-kay?" subplot? Check
Climax with death of a character? Check
Not to mention the climactic Twilight Zone-ish twist was obvious about 1/3 of the way into the book. Only thing missing was a dead pet.
LOL, great analysis! I have to agree that When You Reach Me really overstrained my credulity--if the time-travelling character was capable of all that he did, surely there must have been an easier and more effective way for him to prevent the accident?

Quote:
Originally Posted by peedin View Post
Johnny Tremain and Thimble Summer waiting to be picked up at the library.....
Nice! Enjoy, you have a treat waiting for you! I have to wonder whether E.B. White had read Thimble Summer or whether a girl and her beloved prize pig at a fair was a much bigger part of the popular consciousness.

Last edited by gkster; 02-10-2017 at 11:47 AM..
Reply With Quote
  #98  
Old 02-10-2017, 12:20 PM
Soul Brother Number Two Soul Brother Number Two is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Whoa, Bless the Beasts and the Children was a children's book? That... is a very heavy book. I'm almost positive it was shelved in the adult section in my home town library when I was a kid.

Anyone ever seen the movie?

Last edited by Soul Brother Number Two; 02-10-2017 at 12:20 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #99  
Old 02-10-2017, 01:21 PM
Dendarii Dame Dendarii Dame is offline
Guest
 
Join Date: May 2011
Dendarii Dame, you said in your original post that you hadn't read the 2003, 2005-7 winners? FWIW Here are my comments.
2007: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron: nice, sweet, not bad, but not really in the same league as other winners.
2006: Criss Cross by Lynne Rae Perkins: My daughter read it in middle school and loved it. I liked it well enough and can see why it won; while it's low-key, it's funny, reflective and realistic, there's no forced happily ever after ending. It also features a wonderful definition of the concept "satori."
2005: Kira-Kira by Cynthia Kadohata: racism and a kid with cancer, sounds like award-bait, but my feeling was that the author pulled it off without it looking contrived. Award-worthy.
2003: Crispin: The Cross of Lead by Avi: I enjoy historical fiction and so was predisposed to like this, but several things about it including a major plot point struck me as inauthentic and rubbed me the wrong way. It reminded me of one of those video games set in a pseudo-medieval world.

Yes, thanks for starting the thread!

Thanks to all the commenters. In the 1990's I decided to read every one of the Newbery Award Winners that I hadn't read as a kid. Some of them were tougher to get through than others (I'm looking at you, The Dark Frigate, although it did have a great battle at sea scene), but the one that stopped me cold was Crispin: The Cross of Lead. Just could not get past chapter two. After that, I only read Newbery books if they were ones I would've read without the award.

And I couldn't stand When You Reach Me either, for the reasons listed.

Whoops, sorry, I edited out the quotes, gkster.

Last edited by Dendarii Dame; 02-10-2017 at 01:22 PM..
Reply With Quote
  #100  
Old 02-10-2017, 01:30 PM
jsgoddess jsgoddess is online now
Guest
 
Join Date: Feb 2003
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dendarii Dame View Post
Some of them were tougher to get through than others (I'm looking at you, The Dark Frigate, although it did have a great battle at sea scene), but the one that stopped me cold was Crispin: The Cross of Lead. Just could not get past chapter two. After that, I only read Newbery books if they were ones I would've read without the award.

And I couldn't stand When You Reach Me either, for the reasons listed.

Whoops, sorry, I edited out the quotes, gkster.
I didn't think The Cross of Lead was that bad, but it wasn't a superstar either. (I think I have it three stars on Goodreads.)
Reply With Quote
Reply



Bookmarks

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is Off
HTML code is Off

Forum Jump


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 06:21 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.7
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.

Send questions for Cecil Adams to: cecil@chicagoreader.com

Send comments about this website to: webmaster@straightdope.com

Terms of Use / Privacy Policy

Advertise on the Straight Dope!
(Your direct line to thousands of the smartest, hippest people on the planet, plus a few total dipsticks.)

Publishers - interested in subscribing to the Straight Dope?
Write to: sdsubscriptions@chicagoreader.com.

Copyright 2017 Sun-Times Media, LLC.