Newbery Roundup: March Edition

The March Newbery roundup contains this month's best (and worst) of the Newbery books I've been reading. | Book reviews by

We’re back with another Newbery roundup for March! Other than the 2016 Newbery winners that my sister and I reviewed, I’ve read some older books as well. Some were pretty decent, several were forgettable, and one was something I’m definitely not interested. So, on we go!

The Corn Grows Ripe

When his father is badly injured in an accident, a young Mayan boy called Tigre wonders who will plant and harvest the corn that they need to survive–and to please the Mayan gods. Twelve-year-old Tigre has never done a man’s work before. Now he will have to take his father’s place. (Summary via

I felt all right about this book. It was interesting to read about the culture of the Mayans and how important corn was to the families of the time, but I didn’t care very much, to be honest.

Good but Forgettable

The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane

I always enjoy what Russell Freedman writes (as you might remember). He is a fantastic biography writer, and this book about the Wright brothers is no exception. I found it amazing how much the brothers had to discover for themselves; they really did pioneer the science of flight, not just flying itself. The book was crammed with tons of pictures (the Wright brothers were meticulous about documenting their progress). I did sometimes skim the more technical parts, though.

Good but Forgettable

Kildee House

In this book, a man decides to escape his former life by building a home in the midst of the redwood forest. He then makes friends with a slew of animals, including a family of skunks, a pair of raccoons, some squirrels, and many other woodland creatures, as well as a preteen girl. The girl and the old man work together to raise the animals and make them comfortable, even as their families continue to grow.

It’s a cute idea, and the illustrations were pretty awesome. If your kid is into animals, they’ll almost definitely enjoy this book.

Good but Forgettable

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Calpurnia Virginia Tate is eleven years old in 1899 when she wonders why the yellow grasshoppers in her Texas backyard are so much bigger than the green ones. With a little help from her notoriously cantankerous grandfather, an avid naturalist, she figures out that the green grasshoppers are easier to see against the yellow grass, so they are eaten before they can get any larger.

As Callie explores the natural world around her, she develops a close relationship with her grandfather, navigates the dangers of living with six brothers, and comes up against just what it means to be a girl at the turn of the century. (Summary via

This was probably my favorite book of this month’s Newbery roundup. It’s well written and interesting, and Callie is a really fun character. I did struggle with how much her parents attempt to shove her into the turn of the century “female” box–they’re constantly discouraging her interest in science and trying to make her better at needlework and baking. I know it’s realistic, but it’s still heartbreaking, and I’m not sure I can force myself to read the rest of the series, good as this book was.

Pretty Darn Good

Pecos Bill

I really didn’t care for this book. I’m not a fan of mythology and tall tales, as a general rule, and this book wasn’t an exception to that rule. Add to that the casual racism and sexism that comes with many of the older Newbery books, and you come up with a book that I had to force myself to finish. Unless you or your kid is obsessed with American tall tales, maybe don’t bother.


About Monica

I am obsessed with all things books. I'm a music teacher by day and a freelance editor by night.

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