**Me: **I’m 45, female, and live in New Jersey. I was a huge reader as a kid, and still am, with a particular interest in science fiction. My starting point was 14 Newbery winners that I’m certain I’ve read (though I know I’ve read more - just can’t swear to it). 10 I’d read or re-read as an adult.
Caddie Woodlawn - 1935
This book was charming, but definitely hearkens from another era. I think the more modern Newbery winners are often about Children Dealing With Serious Issues, and Caddie Woodlawn was more of a series of amusing anecdotes about the author’s grandmother’s pioneer childhood. It’s kind of like the Little House books, but without the preachiness and desperate crushing poverty. It also gives an interesting perspective on attitudes about gender, race, and class in 1935. Spoiler on that one issue alone:
The book was probably seen as really progressive in its day. It seems attitudes that were considered modern and inclusive in 1935 were applied to people in 1864, and from a 2017 perspective, it’s pretty ham-handed.
My Recommendation: This would be a good one to read when you’re thoroughly depressed from having read all those other ones about Children Dealing With Serious Issues.
Number The Stars - 1990
The Holocaust is certainly a Serious Issue, but overall, this book is less of a downer than I expected. It describes a fascinating chapter in WWII history, and honestly, one that I hadn’t known much about. I suspect that the picture it paints of Danish attitudes towards Jews is a little too uniformly rosy, however. Even a childrens’ book could have used a little more nuance in that regard, and to an adult reader, the simplistic good-guy/bad-guy dichotomy stands out as a major flaw. There’s also not much in the way of an interesting plot, either. I probably expected too much because it’s by the same author as The Giver.
My Recommendation: Certainly worth a read, and it’s short. Just don’t set your expectations too high.