I know, I know–I’ve practically dropped off the face of the earth this week. I’ve been busy with a multitude of editing projects (check out my editing and proofreading website if you’re in need of either of those services) and I haven’t had time to write any reviews recently. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t been reading great books, and to make up for my absence, I’m giving you a mega-post, all about the latest Newbery (and Newbery-related) books I’ve read. Enjoy!
Frontier Living by Edwin Tunis
This book provides an interesting look into–yes–life on the frontier. I’ve been interested in pioneer life ever since Little House on the Prairie entered my life, and this book helped feed that interest. This book is fairly dry, and I think if I had picked it up as a kid, I probably would have lost interest pretty quickly. Still, I can see it working as a book to read with your kids, or something to give to a child who has an obsession with frontier life. The sketches of tools, homes, and clothing are a big plus.
Rating: Good but Forgettable
Guts by Gary Paulsen
Let me tell you about how much I loved Gary Paulsen’s work as a kid. He wrote Hatchet, which is a Newbery book, along with several related books. Hatchet is the story of a boy who is stranded alone in the Canadian wilderness and must survive using only his wits and the hatchet his mother gave him. He faces cold, hunger, and wild animals in his quest for survival.
In this new book, Paulsen tells the story of his own wilderness adventures, from his childhood to his adulthood. It is fascinating enough to keep an adult’s interest, but written simply enough to intrigue children–especially those who love the thought of having to survive on their own in the wild. I may be biased by my childhood love for Gary Paulsen, but this book is definitely worth a look, no matter what your age.
Rating: Pretty Darn Good
The Hidden Treasure of Glaston by Eleanor Jewett
I found this book interesting once I got into it, but it was pretty slow paced at the beginning. In the year 1171, Hugh is left at a monastery when his father has to flee England. Hugh and his new friend Dickon discover some forgotten treasures and think they might be on the path to one of the greatest treasures of all time–the Holy Grail.
Good story, but only for those kids who have the patience to work through the slower-paced writing of many years ago.
Rating: Good but Forgettable
The View from Saturday by E.L. Konigsburg
Okay, here’s the deal: I’ve actually read this book before. I remembered enjoying it as a kid, so I ordered it cheaply a few weeks ago. I read through it again last weekend, and… I don’t know why I liked it so much before. The characters are interesting, but there isn’t much of a plot. The book is basically made up of four short stories, narrated by each of the four main characters, interspersed with information about the academic bowl they are participating in under the guidance of their sixth grade teacher. Noah, Ethan, Nadia, and Julian seem like interesting, intelligent kids, but they don’t do a whole lot. I was kind of disappointed in re-reading it, unfortunately.