Newbery Review: 1932

A quick review of Calico Bush, one of the 1932 Newbery honor books. | A book review by NewberyandBeyond.com
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Calico Bush

Left orphaned and alone in a strange country, thirteen-year-old Marguerite Ledoux has no choice but to become a servant girl. She promises her services to the Sargent family for six long years in return for food and shelter. But life as a “bound-out girl” is full of more hardship than Maggie ever could have imagined. Living with the family in an isolated part of northern Maine, Maggie struggles through the harsh, hungry winter of 1743, the constant threat of Indian attacks, and worst of all, the loneliness she suffers knowing that her own family is lost forever. Will the Sargents’ house ever feel like home? (Summary via Goodreads.com)

Calico Bush is another historical fiction Newbery book that I read as part of my homeschool curriculum. (Thanks, Sonlight!) Although it is written by Rachel Field, author of Hitty, Her First Hundred Years, this book is nothing like her early Newbery book.

The main character of this book, Maggie, gives the reader a window into early colonial life, complete with all its hardships. You’ll read about indentured servants, harsh weather, illness, death, and conflict with Native Americans (remember that this book was written in 1932, and thus has all the insensitivity you would expect from a book of that time). Although I don’t remember being traumatized by this book as a child, it is definitely for a middle grades audience.

Books like these are why I still count myself a fan of historical fiction, even though I find most adult historical fiction novels a bit dry. I would love to read this book again someday and refresh my memories of it.

Rating: Good but Forgettable

Newbery Review: 1930

Hitty, Her First Hundred Years is a surprisingly interesting story of a doll and her adventures. | A book review by NewberyandBeyond.com
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Medal Winner: Hitty, Her First Hundred Years

Hitty is a doll of great charm and character. It is indeed a privilege to publish her memoirs, which, besides being full of the most thrilling adventures on land and sea, also reveal her delightful personality. One glance at her portrait will show that she is no ordinary doll. Hitty, or Mehitable as she was really named, was made in the early 1800s for Phoebe Preble, a little girl from Maine. Young Phoebe was very proud of her beautiful doll and took her everywhere, even on a long sailing trip in a whaler. This is the story of Hitty’s years with Phoebe, and the many that follow in the life of a well-loved doll. (Summary via Goodreads.com)

This story about a beloved doll and her adventures was¬†surprisingly interesting. Hitty is taken on trips, passed from girl to girl, and even lost during her first hundred years. I do remember that, reading this as a young teenager, I was a bit overwhelmed by the length of the book and the old-fashioned writing style, so for a younger kid, it might work better as a story you read to them, bit by bit. But don’t pass this book by simply because the main character is a doll. Hitty and her many owners over the years are sweet, fun characters to spend time with.

Rating: Good but Forgettable

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