Themed Third Throwback Thursday: 1970-1979

I’m on vacation this Thursday, so I hope you’ll forgive a perhaps spotty posting!

[1970 to 1979 book list]

Historically in this decade, with a focus on new technology:

1970–Floppy disks introduced
1971–VCRs introduced
1972–Pocket calculators introduced
1973–Skylab (first U.S. space station) launched
1975–Microsoft founded
1976–Apple Computer founded
1977–First Star Wars movie released
1979–Walkman introduced by Sony

In literature (Newberys):

1970–Sounder, by William H. Armstrong
1971–Summer of the Swans, by Betsy Byars
1972–Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, by Robert C. O’Brien
1973–Julie of the Wolves, by Jean Craighead George
1974–The Slave Dancer, by Paula Fox
1975–M.C. Higgins, the Great, by Virginia Hamilton
1976–The Grey King, by Susan Cooper
1977–Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry, by Mildred D. Taylor
1978–Bridge to Terabithia, by Katherine Paterson
1979–The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin

In literary art (Caldecotts):

1970–Sylvester and the Magic Pebble, by William Steig
1971–A Story A Story, retold and illustrated by Gail E. Haley
1972–One Fine Day, retold and illustrated by Nonny Hogrogian
1973–The Funny Little Woman, retold by Arlene Mosel, illustrated by Blair Lent
1974–Duffy and the Devil, retold by Harve Zemach, illustrated by Margo Zemach
1975–Arrow to the Sun, by Gerald McDermott
1976–Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People’s Ears, retold by Verna Aardema, illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon
1977–Ashanti to Zulu: African Traditions, by Margaret Musgrove, illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon
1978–Noah’s Ark, by Peter Spier
1979–The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses, by Paul Goble

I’m going to be open here: I was born in 1979. The first memory I have of any of the award-winning books of the decade are the two Leo & Diane Dillon books, but many from the Newbery list later became favorites. I’m going to skip all those now that they’re listed and just tell you about a few others that have stuck with me somehow from this decade.

Chocolate FeverChocolate Fever, by Robert Kimmel Smith (1972): Henry loves chocolate so much that he breaks out in chocolate fever and flees the hospital to avoid the treatments of doctors who don’t know what to do! A truck driver named Mac gives him a ride, but they are hijacked by two thieves who believe the truck to be carrying expensive furs (instead of the chocolate bars it’s really hauling). Henry learns the value of moderation and considering others (like his parents) when he makes his choices. BoyChild and GirlChild enjoyed this audiobook, and GirlChild had already read it in her classroom in second grade as well.

The Dark Is Rising, The Dark Is Risingby Susan Cooper (1973): I received this book as a gift from either my fourth or fifth grade teacher. It’s the second of the series, and I never got around to reading the first, but I read the rest of the series! Steeped in European mythology, I believe it was one of my first solo ventures into magical realism in novel form. The seventh son of a seventh son, Will Stanton is the last of the Old Ones, and his adventures start as he turns eleven. A little darker than a lot of the children’s series that I enjoy, this is a good series for upper elementary and middle school age readers.

Tight TimesTight Times, by Barbara Shook Hazen, pictures by Trina Schart Hyman (1979): “Tight times” mean the little boy who tells the story can’t get a dog. His daddy explains all the things in their life right now that are a part of tight times: Mommy going to work, bulk cereal, and no trips to the lake. Then Daddy loses his job, and the little boy finds a cat in a trash can outside. He names the cat Dog because he’s always wanted one. There is no “happy ending” exactly to the story–the boy gets to keep the cat, but there is no solution to the real issues–just like life.

Ben’s Trumpet, Ben's Trumpetby Rachel Isadora (1979): I kind of love almost everything Rachel Isadora does. This book–about my favorite instrument, no less!–is no exception. Done completely in black and white, it tells the story of a boy named Ben who pretends to play a trumpet and loves listening to jazz musicians play. The trumpet player from the jazz club compliments his “trumpet,” but the other kids make fun of him. Later, the jazz trumpeter takes him to a practice at the club to teach him to play the real horn.

BunniculaBunnicula, by James and Deborah Howe (1979): I recently checked out the whole Bunnicula series on audiobook for a roadtrip with my kids. They almost refused to listen–too much suspense, I think!–but they ended up loving these stories about an innocent (but possibly vampire) bunny, Harold the happy-go-lucky author dog of the book, and suspicious Chester the cat.

What Do We Do All Day published a list that contains many of my favorites and a few I’d never heard about!

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Themed Third Throwback Thursday: 1960-1969

My list for the 1960s is long…too long. It seems like every iconic picture book, every novel or easy reader I ever picked up off the shelf or was assigned in class during the ’80s and ’90s was published in the 1960s! (That, I must admit, is hyperbole. Maybe half of them, not all.😉 ) Instead of listing every one with a synopsis, I’m going to do this list in halves–half picture book/easy reader, half novels–and a basic summary. Then you can access the printable book list below for just a list!

[1960 to 1969 book list]

In the news and popular culture during this decade, as found on about.com, including many events from the American Civil Rights Movement:

1960–presidential debates first televised, lunch counter sit-in at Woolworth’s
1961–first man in space (Soviets)
1962–first Wal-Mart opens, first James Bond movie
1963–first Doctor Who episode airs, Martin Luther King Jr.’s “I Have a Dream” speech
1964–GI Joe action figure first made, Civil Rights Act passes
1965–U.S. gets involved in Vietnam
1966–Kwanzaa first celebrated, Star Trek first airs
1967–first heart transplant, first Super Bowl, Thurgood Marshall becomes first African-American justice on the Supreme Court
1968–Martin Luther King Jr. assassinated
1969–Neil Armstrong is first man on the moon, Sesame Street airs

Newbery Medalists for the decade:

1960–Onion John, by Joseph Krumgold
1961–Island of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell
1962–The Bronze Bow, by Elizabeth George Speare
1963–A Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle
1964–It’s Like This, Cat, by Emily Neville
1965–Shadow of a Bull, by Maia Wojciechowska
1966–I, Juan de Pareja, by Elizabeth Borton de Trevino
1967–Up a Road Slowly, by Irene Hunt
1968–From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg
1969–The High King, by Lloyd Alexander

Caldecott Medals for the decade:

1960–Nine Days to Christmas, by Marie Hall Ets and Aurora Labastida
1961–Baboushka and the Three Kings, by Ruth Robbins, illustrated by Nicolas Sidjakov
1962–Once a Mouse, retold and illustrated by Marcia Brown
1963–The Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats
1964–Where the Wild Things Are, by Maurice Sendak
1965–May I Bring a Friend?, by Beatrice Schenk de Regniers, illustrated by Beni Montresor
1966–Always Room for One More, by Sorche Nic Leodhas, illustrated by Nonny Hogrogian
1967–Sam, Bangs & Moonshine, by Evaline Ness
1968–Drummer Hoff, adapted by Barbara Emberly, illustrated by Ed Emberly
1969–The Fool of the World and the Flying Ship, retold by Arthur Ransome, illustrated by Uri Shulevitz

Picture Books/Easy Readers:

Bedtime for FrancesBedtime for Frances, by Russell and Lillian Hoban (1960): This is first in the series about Frances the strong-willed, inventive badger child who, in this book, is not quite ready for bedtime.

Green Eggs and Ham, Green Eggs and Hamby Dr. Seuss (1960): Sam-I-Am persistently offers green eggs and ham to an abstainer who is finally convinced to try them because he is tired of being pestered. Turns out, he does like green eggs and ham! This is just one of many Dr. Seuss books published in this decade, my favorite of which is Dr. Seuss’s ABCs (1963).

The Fire CatThe Fire Cat, by Esther Averill (1960): Pickles the cat wants to do big things, but because he can’t find big things to do, he acts out. Mrs. Goodkind gets him hooked up with the local fire department, and he learns how to use his big paws for good.

Go, Dog, Go!, Go, Dog, Go!by P.D. Eastman (1961): Dogs are doing plenty of un-dogly things in order to showcase a variety of adjectives and opposites. The story culminates in a big dog party at the top of a tree and two dogs riding off together into the sunset.

The Snowy DayThe Snowy Day, by Ezra Jack Keats (1962): Peter wakes one morning to find that it has snowed overnight! This Caldecott Medal winning book then follows Peter through his day in the snow, his disappointment that the snowball he tries to save melts, and his joy when he wakes again the next morning to find fresh snow has fallen once again.

Amelia Bedelia, Amelia Bedeliaby Peggy Parish (1963): Amelia Bedelia is a very literal woman who goes to work for the Rogers family as housekeeper. Her confusion over idioms and unclear phrases used by the family result in many funny misinterpretations, but her fabulous cooking skills save her job. (There is a new branch of this series being published about Amelia Bedelia as a little girl as well.)

Clifford the Big Red DogClifford the Big Red Dog, by Norman Bridwell (1963): Clifford is a friendly, red, and very oversized dog, and this book is the introductory book of the series. He and his owner, Emily Elizabeth, do many things together, and Clifford both gets in trouble because of his size and often saves the day.

Where the Wild Things Are, Where the Wild Things Areby Maurice Sendak (1963): The 1964 winner of the Caldecott Medal, this book tells the story of Max who is feeling rather beastly before dinner and is sent to his room where he imagines himself sailing to the land of the wild things. When he starts to feel lonely for a place where “someone loved him best of all,” he “sails” home and finds his dinner waiting for him in his room.

The Giving TreeThe Giving Tree, by Shel Silverstein (1964): A tree loves a little boy and gives him all that he wants and needs all through his life, even to the point of giving up her own life. (Many people love this book. I am not one of them.)

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile, Lyle, Lyle, Crocodileby Bernard Waber (1965): Lyle the crocodile lives in harmony with the Primms and everyone on their street except for Mr. Grumps and his cat. When Lyle causes a stir at the store where Mr. Grumps works, Mr. Grumps gets the city to put him into the zoo. When he is sprung from the zoo and is returning home, he coincidentally saves Mr. Grumps and his cat from a house fire and is welcomed back into the neighborhood.

CorduroyCorduroy, story and pictures by Don Freeman (1968): Corduroy is a stuffed bear in a department store who has a missing button and is overlooked because of it. After a night of adventure looking for a new button, Corduroy is purchased by a little girl who comes to be his friend.

Swimmy, Swimmyby Leo Lionni (1968): Swimmy is the one black fish in his school of red fish, and a big fish eats all his friends. Swimmy wanders the wonders of the sea until he finds another school of his kind of fish (still all red), and he helps them learn to swim together to discourage big fish from attacking (and he, with his distinctive color, plays the part of the eye). This book was a Caldecott Honor book.

Caps for SaleCaps for Sale, by Esphyr Slobodkina (1968): A peddler who has trouble selling his hats one day rests beneath a tree and has all his hats stolen by monkeys while he sleeps. In his angry attempts to get them to return his hats (which they mock by copying his every move), he throws down his own hat to the ground in fury, prompting all the monkeys to toss down the hats they have stolen as well. The peddler reclaims his hats and goes back to town to try again to sell them.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar, The Very Hungry Caterpillarby Eric Carle (1969): A very hungry caterpillar eats and eats (creating holes in the pages of the book) until he feels a little sick and makes himself a cocoon. When he wakes, he’s a butterfly (with what appear to be upside-down wings)!

Novels:

Island of the Blue DolphinsIsland of the Blue Dolphins, by Scott O’Dell (1960): Karana is left alone on the Island of the Blue Dolphins when she leaves the evacuation ship to be with her brother who is accidentally left behind. He is soon killed by wild dogs, and Karana survives for many years with only the company of a wild dog she tames and the things she scavenges or creates until another ship comes, and she trusts them to take her away as well. This book won the Newbery Medal.

The Phantom Tollbooth, The Phantom Tollboothby Norton Juster (1961): Milo is a spoiled and bored boy who one day opens an unexpected delivery: a toy tollbooth. He wearily drives his toy car through the booth, and he is transported to a strange and ridiculous land where the rules don’t make sense and there is great division between the rulers about whether words or numbers are most important. Milo’s journeys and adventures teach him to find excitement in the world around him.

James and the Giant PeachJames and the Giant Peach, by Roald Dahl (1961): James lives miserably with his two awful aunts until one day when a giant peach grows as a result of a batch of magical crocodile tongues being spilled. (Really.) He finds a tunnel into the center of the peach, and he and the oversized crawling creatures he discovers inside take a trip across the ocean from Dover, England to New York City where they take up residence and live happily ever after.

The Wolves of Willoughby Chase, The Wolves of Willoughby Chaseby Joan Aiken (1962): When Bonnie’s parents take a holiday for the health of her mother, they are unaware that the distant relative with whom they leave their daughter is a villain. She and an unscrupulous man plot to take over Willoughby Chase and oust Bonnie’s family. Bonnie, her cousin, and the helpful goose boy work together to foil their plot and return to Willoughby Chase, despite the wolves. (I have not read this book–it was a favorite of my sister’s–but it is supposed to be pretty funny!)

Product DetailsA Wrinkle in Time, by Madeleine L’Engle (1962): Meg’s father has been missing for years; her brother Charles Wallace does not even remember him. One “dark and stormy night,” however, three mysterious ladies arrive and start Meg, Charles Wallace, and friend Calvin on a wild, space-hopping, time-bending adventure to save the world (and other worlds!). This Newbery Medal book is the first of a series.

The Chronicles of Prydain, The Chronicles of Prydainby Lloyd Alexander (1964-1968): The second book in this fantasy series (The Black Cauldron) was a Newbery Honor book, the last book (The High King) won the Newbery Medal. Taran is the assistant pig-keeper in charge of Hen Wen, a pig who prophesies. The books follow him as he adventures and grows to adulthood while fighting for the freedom of Prydain from the Death Lord.

Harriet the SpyHarriet the Spy, by Louise Fitzhugh (1964): Harriet is a curious and regimented child, raised by a nanny who is soon to leave her to get married, and her life seems to fall apart when the notebook she keeps about her spying is found by her classmates who don’t much care for the blunt musings about each of them they find there. Eventually, she accepts the advice and help of the adults in her life to find a solution and a better outlet for her keen observation skills.

The Mouse and the Motorcycle, The Mouse and the Motorcycleby Beverly Cleary (1965): Ralph is a mouse who lives with his family in an old hotel off the beaten path. A boy arrives and brings his toy motorcycle, and Ralph discovers he can actually drive it. He and the boy become friends during the family’s stay, and the boy leaves Ralph his motorcycle when his family continues their trip.

Baby IslandBaby Island, by Carol Ryrie Brink (1965): 12-year-old Mary and 10-year-old Jean are traveling by boat to meet with their father in Australia, and a storm causes them to have to abandon ship–with the four babies entrusted temporarily to their care–when their lifeboat is set loose abruptly when the boat’s sinking seems imminent. They land on what they believe to be a deserted island but later meet Mr. Peterkin who lives on the other side. When they least expect it, rescue arrives, and there are happy reunions all around. (This was a favorite book of mine as a child!)

The Egypt Game, Egypt Gameby Zilpha Keatley Snyder (1967): A group of children who live in the same apartment building sneak into an unused storage yard nearby to play an elaborate game meant to replicate ancient Egyptian rituals. When another child is murdered in their neighborhood, they are kept from their game for a long time because the assailant is unknown. When one of the children returns to their play area to retrieve something after they are allowed to play again, she is attacked and is saved when the owner of the storage yard (who has been watching all along, unknown to the children) calls for help, and the murderer is found. This book was a Newbery Honor book.

From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. FrankweilerFrom the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg (1967): Claudia feels unappreciated by her family, so she plans an elaborate scheme to run away to the Metropolitan Museum of Art (with her brother, because he has money) long enough for them to miss her. While they are there, they discover a mystery about a statue that is purportedly one of Michaelangelo’s, and Claudia is so intrigued that she leaves the museum to pursue further information about Angel at the home of its previous owner, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, who keeps her records organized in a peculiar way–a way she won’t explain when she allows the children one hour to discover the answer they’re seeking.

Striped Ice Cream, Striped Ice Creamby Joan M. Lexau (1968): Becky’s birthday is approaching, and times are hard, so she knows her family isn’t even going to be able to afford her favorite striped ice cream to celebrate. She would be okay with that except her family, usually so loving, seems to be treating her particularly meanly for a girl whose birthday is coming up. She soon discovers the reason for their distance, however, in their loving birthday surprise.

And here are the lists for picture books and chapter books from the 1960s featured by the What Do We Do All Day blog. There are no duplicates on the picture book list, and only three from the chapter books this time!

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Themed Third Throwback Thursday: 1950-1959

I was doing so well, really, until the third Thursday of June fell during the week of BoyChild’s Things that Go camp at church and as I was getting us ready for a weekend getaway for Father’s Day! I totally thought I had another week to get it posted, so here it is, a week late, and I’m going to just go with it! (After all, Fun Fourth Frowback Friday just doesn’t work for me!) Here’s the Themed Third (plus one!) Throwback Thursday for the 1950s, the decade in which my parents started reading!

[1950 to 1959 book list]

Here’s our history news update from about.com:

1950–first organ transplant performed, first “Peanuts” comic strip published
1951–color tv introduced
1952–seat belts in cars introduced, Queen Elizabeth ascends to the throne
1953–DNA discovered
1954–segregation ruled illegal in the U.S.
1955–Disneyland opens, Rosa Parks refuses to give up her seat
1956–Velcro introduced
1957–Dr. Seuss publishes The Cat in the Hat, Sputnik launched
1958–LEGO bricks introduced
1959–The Sound of Music opens on Broadway

The Newbery Medals awarded this decade are:

1950–The Door in the Wall, by Marguerite de Angeli
1951–Amos Fortune, Free Man, by Elizabeth Yates
1952–Ginger Pye, by Eleanor Estes
1953–Secret of the Andes, by Ann Nolan Clark
1954–…And Now Miguel, by Joseph Krumgold
1955–The Wheel on the School, by Meindert DeJong
1956–Carry On, Mr. Bowditch, by Jean Lee Latham
1957–Miracles on Maple Hill, by Virginia Sorensen
1958–Rifles for Watie, by Harold Keith
1959–The Witch of Blackbird Pond, by Elizabeth George Speare

Caldecotts for the decade include:

1950–Song of the Swallows, by Leo Politi
1951–The Egg Tree, by Katherine Milhous
1952–Finders Keepers, by Will and Nicolas
1953–The Biggest Bear, by Lynd Ward
1954–Madeline’s Rescue, by Ludwig Bemelmans
1955–Cinderella, or the Little Glass Slipper, translated and illustrated by Marcia Brown
1956–Frog Went A-Courtin’, retold by John Langstaff, illustrated by Feodor Rojankovsky
1957–A Tree Is Nice, by Janice Udry, illustrated by Marc Simont
1958–Time of Wonder, by Robert McCloskey
1959–Chanticleer and the Fox, by Barbara Cooney

PetuniaPetunia, by Roger Duvoisin (1950): Petunia is a silly goose, and she believes she has become wise because she is now in the possession of a book. She acts so wise and holds her head so high that the other animals begin to come to her for advice, and she doles it out (much of it completely ridiculous) confidently. When her advice leads to a dangerous and painful situation for her and all her friends, Petunia realizes that she is not actually wise. She then realizes that simply having a book does not make her wise but that reading it might, so she sets out to learn to read so she can be truly wise and help make her friends happy. BoyChild was able to see the humor in Petunia’s poor advice, and the reminder that wisdom can come from the knowledge found in books was the perfect ending for a picture book.

Pippi Longstocking, Pippi Longstockingby Astrid Lindgren (1950): Swedish author Lindgren’s Pippi is far from the typical orphan girl in so many of the other stories I’ve reviewed. She has Anne’s spunkiness and red hair, but she is by no means similar to her in other ways! Firstly, Pippi lives alone and insists that her father, a lost sea captain, is actually living as a cannibal king somewhere. She is almost Mad Hatter-esque in the way she goes about her days (or maybe Cat in the Hat-esque!), and she is abnormally physically strong and athletic as well as extremely independent. She is a source of constant excitement for Tommy and Annika, the well-behaved children who live next door with their parents. She is shockingly and innocently indecorous, and she has a horse who lives on her porch. What’s not to love? I dressed as Pippi for Halloween when I was in third grade, complete with stick-out red pigtails (thanks to a well-padded hanger bent around my head and red hair spray) and a patchy blue dress. GirlChild got a copy of the book for Christmas this year and loves it, too!

Charlotte’s Web,Charlotte's Web by E. B. White (1952): This children’s classic received a Newbery Honor in 1953. With both an animated and live-action screen version produced (and probably more of which I’m unaware), Charlotte and Wilbur are pretty well known. There are references in other books (I specifically remember the titular character in The Great Ideas of Lila Fenwick dressing as Charlotte for Halloween…which I then also did!) and media as well. (My children go around singing the “Smorgasbord” song that Templeton sings in the animated movie…) Definitely a lasting story!

Beezus and Ramona, Beezus and Ramonaby Beverly Cleary (1955): This isn’t the first book that Beverly Cleary published in the 1950s (that was Henry and Beezus in 1952), but I’d argue that it’s her most memorable! This is the book where we really get to know Ramona and her imagination, persistence, and roundabout logic. She is so very real, imperfections and all, that it’s easy to either see yourself or your child in her place as you read, and then you can really feel empathy for this little misunderstood person with her quirky ways and exasperated family. GirlChild first started reading these books in kindergarten (with the assistance that hearing them on audiobook

Little BearLittle Bear, by Else Holmelund Minarik, pictures by Maurice Sendak (1957): This book is tagged as an I Can Read! book, but I’m not sure which level–probably level 1, beginning reading. The short, simple sentences, familiar words, and repetition help make this the kind of book that might be a child’s first real reading conquest. (It would also be a fun book for a parent to use to cuddle up with their own Little Bear to read along.) Little Bear is a little silly and has a big imagination. His mother is both indulgent of his whims (she makes him a hat, coat, and snow pants one day, for Pete’s sake!) and the voice of reason in his daily imaginings. This is definitely a classic early reader!

Sammy the Seal, Sammy the Sealby Syd Hoff (1959): I picked this one up because there is still an old copy of it at my parents’ house for the grandchildren to read! Sammy is a seal at the zoo, but he wants to know what goes on outside. Because he has been a well-behaved seal, the zookeeper tells him he can go look. Sammy travels around the city and eventually ends up at school (where he learns to read and write…in one day). When the day is done, he heads back home to the zoo because “there’s no place like home.” This is an I Can Read! beginning reading (level 1) book, and there are a few short, simple sentences on each page of bright illustrations. The story isn’t exactly rich literature, but it was obviously well-loved at my house when I was a child since I remember it and it made the cut when my mom was culling down her book collection!

The Rescuers: a fantasyThe Rescuers: a fantasy, by Margery Sharp (1959): I didn’t get around to reading this one, but it is the basis for the popular The Rescuers movie by Disney, so I’m familiar with the characters. The illustrations are done by the prolific Garth Williams, and the characters seem a little more mouse-like in their appearance than in the movies. I’m going to give this one to GirlChild to try; it might be a little on the tough side for her, particularly since it’s an older book with older cultural references, but I think she’ll enjoy it!

My Side of the Mountain, My Side of the Mountainby Jean [Craighead] George (1959): I read this book a thousand years ago (more or less…probably less), so the details are kind of sketchy in my mind, but I clearly remember Frightful the falcon and the fact that this was voluntary survivalism, not forced (like in Hatchet, which also features a young teenage boy in the Canadian wilds), so it’s a little less intense. It is written in first-person, mostly as Sam, the young protagonist, is thinking back on his experiences while he is sheltering from a snowstorm, and I would recommend it for upper elementary students; it might be a little unwieldy for younger, less experienced readers, and it will be best understood by children who have some interest in or interaction with the outdoors. (Sam himself is inexperienced in self-sufficiency at first, and he learns from the locals and others who pass through the woods on his grandfather’s farm where he chooses to live.) It is a Newbery Honor Book as well.

I won’t summarize the Newbery winners that I believe to still have classic appeal, but The Witch of Blackbird Pond is definitely a book that continues to deserve new readership as the decades progress, and I personally loved Miracles on Maple Hill as a child. And here are the corresponding book lists from What We Do All Day, both chapter and picture books (so sad that I forgot about Half Magic)!

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Themed Third Throwback Thursday: 1940-1949

[1940 to 1949 book list]

The 1940s were clearly a tumultuous time in the world. Here are some highlights and trivia from about.com:

1940–Bugs Bunny character debuts
1941–First Captain America comic published, M&Ms created
1942–Anne Frank’s family goes into hiding
1944–D-Day
1945–Germans surrender, microwave oven invented
1946–UNICEF founded
1947–Dead Sea Scrolls found, Polaroid cameras invented
1949–Nineteen Eighty-Four published

Newbery winners for the decade are a better mix of male and female authors than before:

1940–Daniel Boone, by James Daugherty
1941–Call It Courage, by Armstrong Sperry
1942–The Matchlock Gun, by Walter Edmonds
1943–Adam of the Road, by Elizabeth Janet Gray
1944–Johnny Tremain, by Esther Forbes
1945–Rabbit Hill, by Robert Lawson
1946–Strawberry Girl, by Lois Lenski
1947–Miss Hickory, by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey
1948–The Twenty-One Balloons, by William Pene du Bois
1949–King of the World, by Marguerite Henry

Caldecott Medals awarded during the decade include the following:

1940–Abraham Lincoln, by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire (with Madeline, by Ludwig Bemelmans, a perhaps better-known runner-up)
1941–They Were Strong and Good, by Robert Lawson
1942–Make Way for Ducklings, by Robert McCloskey
1943–The Little House, by Virginia Lee Burton
1944–Many Moons, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin, by James Thurber
1945–Prayer for a Child, illustrated by Elizabeth Orton Jones, by Rachel Field
1946–The Rooster Crows, by Maud & Miska Petersham
1947–The Little Island, illustrated by Leonard Weisgard, by Golden MacDonald (Margaret Wise Brown)
1948–White Snow, Bright Snow, illustrated by Roger Duvoisin, by Alvin Tresselt
1949–The Big Snow, by Berta & Elmer Hader

Betsy-TacyBetsy-Tacy, by Maud Hart Lovelace (1940): I had never read this book when I first heard of it in library school, but several classmates listed it as one of their all-time favorite childhood books. Then a good friend mentioned it as something that reminded her of our girls, so I grabbed a copy of it for GirlChild…and she has since read it twice! This first book in the (apparently very long) series starts when the two girls are not yet five years old and are just meeting for the first time. (Within the first chapter, a bit of antiquated terminology will throw an older reader for a loop, but my eight-year-old didn’t even register that her hat had a very peculiar name. That said, when you find it, DON’T GOOGLE IT.) The books takes place in Minnesota during the time period when little girls still wore winter underwear and petticoats under their dresses and people moved into houses with the aid of a dray (a low cart without sides used to haul heavy things) instead of a moving van. Betsy is friendly and eager and inventive, and Tacy (short for Anna Anastacia) is reserved but just as imaginative. (Neither one seems to be aware that a milk cow or a hen is always a she.) Betsy has an older sister, and Tacy is one of eleven children. There are small issues (first day of school, etc.) that the girls handle together, but the death of Tacy’s baby sister is a serious one that is dealt with gently. Mostly the author just describes the stories the girls tell and the different ways they play together (like going calling dressed in their mother’s old clothes and leaving cards where they’ve visited–I seriously want to bring back leaving calling cards!). The very last chapter introduces a new character, Tib (short for Thelma), a girl who is introduced to Betsy and Tacy because of one of the calling cards they leave at a home they pass on their way to school. (The shout-out to Milwaukee was a fun part, too, since that’s where we are, and GirlChild’s friend moved here from Minnesota.) I’d recommend this first book as a read-aloud for a young listener (kindergarten-ish) or independent reading for an older reader like GirlChild, but you might need to be prepared to explain some of the less-than-modern elements of the story to help them fully understand.

Make Way for Ducklings, Make Way for Ducklingsby Robert McCloskey (1941): This Caldecott-winning picture book tells the story of Mr. and Mrs. Mallard’s search for a place to raise their ducklings. Mrs. Mallard dismisses each idea as being too dangerous (foxes or turtles might be there!) until they arrive in Boston and find a little island in a pond in the Public Garden, and they almost decide to stay there until they discover the number of children on wheeled toys rushing by on the banks. They fly all over town looking for another place to nest, and they finally settle on an island in the Charles River since it seems peaceful but is close enough to the Public Garden to benefit from the peanuts people give them! When Mr. Mallard goes on to explore further down the river shortly after the ducklings hatch, Mrs. Mallard teaches the children all kinds of ducky things before they set off to meet Mr. Mallard at the Public Garden. Michael the policeman stops traffic for the little train of ducks, then he calls downtown to get support to stop traffic along the rest of their route as well. (Here’s where the book gets its name!) When they arrive at the Public Garden again, the ducklings love the island, so they decide to remain in the garden pond, eating peanuts and sleeping on the island.

The Hundred DressesThe Hundred Dresses, by Eleanor Estes, illustrated by Louis Slobodkin (1944): This Newbery Honor book is familiar to many of my era, and GirlChild really enjoyed it, too. (I reminded her of another book we’ve read with a similar theme, Jacqueline Woodson‘s Each Kindness.) In the book, a Polish immigrant girl is constantly taunted by a pretty, popular, and well-to-do girl named Peggy because she has dared to claim that she–Wanda Petronski, who lives in Boggins Heights and wears the same faded dress to school every day–has one hundred dresses lined up in her closet. Maggie, Peggy’s friend, is unsettled by the mockery because she worries that she may become a target, too, since she is also poor, but she says nothing. The day when the teacher announces that Wanda has won the drawing contest for her one hundred beautiful dress designs, she also receives and reads a note from Wanda’s father explaining her recent and now permanent absence in the light of the mockery over her name and speech. The girls, especially Maggie and Peggy, are riddled with guilt and write a letter to try to patch things up. Wanda replies back that they may all keep the drawings she made, and Peggy and Maggie realize the ones she designates for them were actually drawn with their faces before all this happened. Maggie realizes in the end that she will never really be able to make things right except to never allow that kind of cruel behavior to happen to another child again; she vows to always speak up.

The Carrot Seed,The Carrot Seed story by Ruth Krauss, pictures by Crockett Johnson (1945): This is by far the simplest book of the bunch. While I’m not entirely sure that this particular title is well-known, the illustrator certainly is! (His Harold and the Purple Crayon will show up in next month’s post.) I loved the story, too, actually, and BoyChild listened carefully, remarking on how “mean” everyone was to tell the little boy that his seed wouldn’t grow. (We had a bit of a connection to make, actually, since we just planted carrot seeds in our garden and are waiting for them to grow!) Each page has a single sentence and illustration as the little boy waits, pulls weeds, and waters the seed. Finally, “a carrot came up”–a vast understatement since the carrot top that springs forth is taller than the boy–“just as the little boy had known it would”–and he carts off a gigantic carrot. BoyChild was somewhat shocked and very pleased by the sudden and very large carrot crop, and I think this would be an excellent read aloud to share with a classroom of young children who might be studying plants!

My Father's DragonMy Father’s Dragon, by Ruth Stiles Gannett, illustrated by Ruth Chrisman Gannett (1948): While I acquired this book somehow in an inherited classroom library, I was not aware of its background at all. I happened to see it on a list of first read-alouds for kindergarten children when I was looking for a book for a friend, and then I realized that it was also a Newbery Honor book, so I decided to give it a try! After reading through its simple silliness, I do think I’ll read it to BoyChild to see what he thinks. It tells the story of a boy (referred to as “my father” in the book, thus the title) who is kind to an alley cat who then tells him about another creature who is in need of rescue: a baby dragon on Wild Island. The boy sets off to help the dragon. He tricks or distracts several different animals on the island so that he can access the dragon and set him free, and they fly away together. There are several opportunities for a little fun prediction and a little light suspense, so I agree with the age-level and read aloud suggestion for this one, but I’m pretty sure GirlChild would enjoy reading it as well!

Blueberries for Sal, Blueberries for Salby Robert McCloskey (1948): This book is the Caldecott Honor picture book that tells the story of a little girl who goes blueberry picking (eating?) with her mother and not the horrifying story about the child who is stung by bees while picking berries and dies of an allergic reaction like I first thought (and therefore avoided the book). It follows a human mother and her child, Little Sal, as they go berry picking, but it also follows a bear mother and her child, Little Bear, as they forage for berries, too. BoyChild and I each kind of expected a more frightened response when each child started following the wrong mother, but worry about the missing child seems to be the only fear shown; the human mother and child even continue picking berries on their way home after they’re reunited!

A few other iconic books that were published in this decade but that were too long for me to reread and review this time are The Black Stallion (1941), My Friend Flicka (1941), and Misty of Chicoteague (1947). Books about horses for more advanced juvenile readers were apparently pretty popular in the ’40s! Misty of Chincoteague (and all the Marguerite Henry books, actually) was my favorite, and my mom read all the Black Stallion books aloud to us at some point, too. What Do We Do All Day’s comparable review list doesn’t have any overlap, but it does mention a couple books that I chose to review since I’ve chosen to focus on lasting favorites while that blog tries to share hidden gems!

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TrexTuesdays: Library Edition

So, I was scrolling through my Facebook feed when a friend posted this lovely video. Just thought I’d share a dinosaur’s experiences in the library with you! (This is last week’s TrexTuesday post; I just figured out how to get the video linked up today, though!)

 

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Themed Third Throwback Thursday: 1930-1939

When the 1930s started, my grandmother was around the age GirlChild is now–and she’ll be turning 93 next month. It amazes me that some of the books she might have read as an elementary school student are books my little girl is reading now!

[1930 to 1939 book list]

While that helps put this decade in perspective for me, here is a selection of world events from about.com to help other readers orient themselves in time!

1930–Pluto is discovered

1932–Amelia Earhart is first female to complete solo flight across the Atlantic

1933–Prohibition ends in the U.S.

1934–Cheeseburger created

1935–Monopoly released by Parker Brothers; first paperback books published (Penguin books)

1936–Gone with the Wind published

1938–Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs released by Disney; Superman appears in comics

1939–World War II begins

 

All the Newbery Medals awarded during this decade were to women compared to all the medals in the 1920s going to men; I don’t know if there’s a reason for this, but it caught my eye! Of the ten winners, I’m familiar with five of the titles; my mom read Caddie Woodlawn and Roller Skates to us when I was young, and she owns Invincible Louisa (although I don’t remember ever reading it myself).

1930–Hitty, Her First Hundred Years, by Rachel Field

1931–The Cat Who Went to Heaven, by Elizabeth Coatsworth

1932–Waterless Mountain, by Laura Adams Armer

1933–Young Fu of the Upper Yangtze, by Elizabeth Lewis

1934–Invincible Louisa: The Story of the Author of Little Women, by Cornelia Meigs

1935–Dobry, by Monica Shannon

1936–Caddie Woodlawn, by Carol Ryrie Brink

1937–Roller Skates, by Ruth Sawyer

1938–The White Stag, by Kate Seredy

1939–Thimble Summer, by Elizabeth Enright

[UPDATE: I didn’t realize that Caldecott Medals began to be awarded during this decade! The first winner, in 1938, was Animals of the Bible: A Picture Book, illustrated by Dorothy Lathrop, and the 1939 winner was Mei Li, by Thomas Handforth.]

And now to our list!

The Cat Who Went to HeavenThe Cat Who Went to Heaven, by Elizabeth Coatsworth (1930): This book, the story of a cat who inspired a destitute Japanese artist and brought him good fortune in the form of a commission to paint the death of Buddha, was the 1931 Newbery Medal winner. It alternates between third-person prose describing events from the artist’s perspective and brief songs of the elderly housekeeper who first brought the short-tailed cat into their home. The unnamed artist first resists the appearance of the cat since he calls cats a devil and is upset because the housekeeper spent their little money on the cat instead of food, but he seems besotted by her as soon as he sees her. The housekeeper names the cat Good Fortune, and that is what she seems to bring them. The cat appears to pray to their image of Buddha, causing the artist to consider his recent lack of prayer due to his hardships and sadness. After the priest arrives to commission the painting, more and more good things come to the artist. He ponders the Buddha in order to do the painting justice, and he comes to a deeper understanding of the object of his faith and remembers also that cats were the only animals not to receive Buddha’s blessing because they were too proud. The cat’s attention to his painting as he adds animals significant to the story of Buddha so moves him that he disregards his fear that his painting will be rejected and includes a cat in the scene. Good Fortune, so happy to see the cat included, dies suddenly. The priest who receives the painting the next day is in awe of it until he sees the cat pictured and puts it aside for burning, but the artist feels as though he has done the right thing anyway. During the night, the image of the cat moves from the end of the parade of animals to a position under the now-outstretched hand of Buddha (as if in blessing), so the significance of the title refers to this cat who supernaturally (through the painting) received Buddha’s blessing and went to heaven.

Angus and the Cat, by Marjorie Flack (1931): Angus and the CatOne of several books based on the author’s own Scottish terrier dog, Angus and the Cat tells the story of how Angus–old enough and wise enough to deal with many of the things his little world throws at him–finds himself at a loss when a cat suddenly appears in his home and invades his space. Whenever Angus approaches, sometimes innocently, sometimes to defend his territory, the cat lashes out or retreats to a place where Angus can’t reach. When the cat seems to disappear one day (BoyChild loved finding her hiding on the roof next to the gable window where Angus couldn’t see her!), Angus searches all over for her and realizes he is lonely without her. The cat returns at lunchtime, and Angus and the cat seem to come to an understanding and enjoy each other’s company. This book is particularly applicable to us right now because we’re fostering a dog who is doesn’t trust our dog because of a bad experience with a similar animal and medication issues. We’re hoping things end up like this book, where our Angus and the cat (the other dog) learn to get along together!

 

The Story of Babar: The Little ElephantHistoire de Babar (The Story of Babar), by Jean de Brunhoff (1931): Babar is, perhaps, the best-known elephant on the planet. This first story, based on a story the author’s wife made up for their children, tells how Babar came to wear clothing and be the king of the elephants. The English version, translated (I think, but maybe retold in English instead) by A.A. Milne, was published in 1933.

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Dr. Daddy as Babar and GirlChild as Princess Flora.

GirlChild has always loved elephants, and the year she was four, she wanted to be both an elephant and a princess for Halloween, so I turned the whole family into the Babars and decorated our trunk (for trunk-or-treat) with copies of all the Babar books I could find. Dr. Daddy (he’s a vet) made the biggest splash as King Babar himself!

 


 

Little House in the Big WoodsLittle House in the Big Woods, by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1932): The first of the Little House books, this tells the fictionalized story of four-year-old Laura and her family before they pack up to leave the big woods of Wisconsin. Set in the second half of the 1800s, it tells of the day-to-day life of a family living off the land and by their wits. My family loved hearing these stories when I was a kid; we loved the pioneer unit my mom used to teach at school (dress-up in bonnets and pinafores! knead bread! make butter! write on slates!); we loved to build log cabins and smokehouses with our Lincoln Logs like Pa did with the real thing. GirlChild has read this one, too, and we’ve listened to (most of) The Long Winter during a trip during our own long Midwest winter. This book tells the kind of things kids want to know about life long ago, and it helps remind me what a blessing modern conveniences are when I start to romanticize the “old days”!

The Story About Ping, The Story About Pingby Marjorie Flack and Kurt Weise (1933): Inspired by her research into ducks for another Angus story, the author delved even deeper into the world of Peking ducks, and this story is the result. Ping is one of a number of ducks who live on a houseboat (with eyes–creepy, creepy–um, I mean wise–eyes) on the Yangtze River. Every day, the ducks leave the boat to forage, and every evening, they are called back to the boat. The last duck gets a swat from a switch (probably to encourage the ducks to always return quickly), and Ping decides one day–a day when he misses the call and would be the last duck–to spend the night outside rather than risk the spank. As Ping explores the river the next morning while he searches for his home, we get peeks into life on the river for a variety of groups, from the diving birds fishing for their master to the family whose child is out bobbing in the river with a barrel tied to him for a life jacket. The boy’s family wants to eat Ping, but he releases Ping secretly, and Ping finally catches sight of his home, just in time to hear the call and be the last duck back. He decides to risk the spank so he can be back home with his family again.

Mary PoppinsMary Poppins, by P.L. Travers (1934): I remember picking up this book in my elementary school library (it had to be pre-fifth-grade because I remember which library it was, and I changed schools in fifth grade) and being a little shocked that Mary Poppins seemed kind of harsh! My experience with the character was, predictably, limited to the Disney version of her, and she kind of scared me in the book! I remember the magic seeming pretty different, too, and I was pretty confused by an episode with bread wrapped in paper (which reflects the fact that I was unaware that the book was already over 50 years old). With renewed interest in the story due to the movie Saving Mr. Banks in 2013, perhaps it’s a good time to break out the original stories again (it’s a whole series!) before my kids get too spoiled by the Julie Andrews version! (Interestingly, the author herself died twenty years ago this weekend!)

And to Think that I Saw it on Mulberry Street, And to Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Streetby Dr. Seuss (1937): Dr. Seuss’s first children’s book is the rhyming tale of a boy who is instructed by his father to observe what he sees while he travels to school and report what he has seen. The boy thinks that what he has seen is too boring, so he embellishes and embellishes until the man driving a horse and cart becomes a brass band on a trailer being pulled by an elephant and two giraffes being escorted by motorcycle police and watched by the city officials and on and on and on…until he gets home, so excited to tell what he has seen that he can’t even speak, and he finally just reports what he actually saw: a plain horse and cart on Mulberry Street.

Mr. Popper's PenguinsMr. Popper’s Penguins, by Richard and Florence Atwater (1938): I recently read this one to my kids, too. It was one of the books introduced to me, along with Anne of Green Gables, by my second grade teacher who realized I needed more than what her grade-level classroom library had to offer. A Newbery Honor recipient in 1939, Mr. Popper is a painter who dreams of world travel. He loves to read about far-off places, and he greatly admires Admiral Drake and writes him a letter about the “funny penguins” at the South Pole. After telling him, via radio broadcast from the expedition, that he should expect a reply to his letter, Admiral Drake sends him a penguin by air express. They soon add another, a gift from an aquarium as they both try to help the ailing penguins recover, and those two soon start a family. Soon the Poppers have ten baby penguins to add to their collection. The house has been transformed into a funhouse for penguins; they train them to do a little show, and they are offered a good sum to travel with their performing penguins. Eventually, the penguins are sent with Admiral Drake on an expedition to establish a penguin population at the North Pole, and Mr. Popper gets to live his dream by joining them on their trip. While it might be a little difficult for young readers to understand all the cultural differences between this book’s setting and modern times, there really is nothing extra needed to imagine how fun and funny it might be to have penguins as pets, even for just a little while!

Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel, Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovelstory and pictures by Virginia Lee Burton (1939): Mike Mulligan and his steam shovel, Mary Anne, are becoming obsolete as new gas and electric steam shovels are developed. They try to prove themselves one more time by offering to dig the cellar for the new town hall in Popperville in just a day. Having an audience always makes them work harder, and a crowd soon gathers to watch their work and see if they really can do all that digging in just one day. Just at sunset, they finish their work to the applause of the townspeople who are all standing around watching. After all that hard, fast work, a little boy (who has been watching all day) notices that Mike and Mary Anne have forgotten to leave a way out. Then the little boy suggests that they simply stay where they are: let Mary Anne be the furnace for the new town hall, and Mike Mulligan can be the janitor. They all agree, and Mike and Mary Anne stay relevant by reinventing themselves and being useful.

Here’s the related list from What We Do All Day: remember that this blogger focuses on lesser-known works, so there’s little overlap this time because of how many well-known works were written during this decade!

 

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Themed Third Throwback Thursday: 1920-1929

(I need you to pretend this was published on Thursday; our power was out for 17 straight hours when I would usually be getting the post ready to publish, and I got set back too far to get it up in time!)

[1920 to 1929 book list]

Here’s our about.com-based summary of events of the decade to find our place in history:

1920–women in the United States earn the right to vote

1921–Bessie Coleman becomes the first African-American female pilot (list of children’s books about Bessie Coleman–they look pretty neat!)

1922–King Tut’s tomb discovered (here’s a brand new article about some recent (potentially) exciting developments regarding the tomb!)

1923–Time magazine founded

1925–Balto the sled dog’s historic run (list of children’s books about Balto, including the Magic Tree House one)

1927–Babe Ruth sets the home run record

1928–penicillin discovered

1929–the stock market crash sets off the Great Depression

 

The John Newbery Medal was first awarded in 1922. Here’s a list of this decade’s winners (some of which have made it into the post)!

1922–The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon

1923–The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle by Hugh Lofting

1924–The Dark Frigate by Charles Hawes

1925–Tales from Silver Lands by Charles Finger

1926–Shen of the Sea by Arthur Bowie Chrisman

1927–Smoky, the Cowhorse by Will James

1928–Gay Neck, the Story of a Pigeon by Dhan Gopal Mukerji

1929–The Trumpeter of Krakow by Eric P. Kelly

The Voyages of Doctor DolittleThe Voyages of Doctor Dolittle, by Hugh Lofting (1922): The book has next to nothing to do with the Eddie Murphy movie version (which I actually liked, too!), and it has a lot of the absurdity of many of the fantasy works of that time. (Building a believable alternative world that was to be taken seriously, like many epic fantasies since that time, was clearly not the object.) Doctor Dolittle himself is a kind of impractical man, a human doctor by trade, who gets into the care of animals by the suggestion of the Cat’s-meat-Man and the animal-language tutelage of his parrot, Polynesia. The Voyages story takes place later in the series, and it is told in first person from the point of view of Tommy Stubbins, the 10-year-old son of a local cobbler, who apprentices himself to Dr. Dolittle in order to join him on his adventures. After helping Luke the Hermit beat a murder accusation in court by translating for his dog, the only other witness, Doctor Dolittle and Tommy set out on what is to be a random naturalist trip, and Tommy just so happens to select a moving island, Spidermonkey Island, as their destination, a destination which is also the last-known location of another respected naturalist, Long Arrow (who is referred to as a Red Indian, what I assume to be the British term of the era to distinguish between natives of India and Native Americans (the latter of which Long Arrow is, from South America)). Apart from this kind of distasteful or out-of-date terminology, there appears to be a general appreciation of the contributions and cultures of different humans as Doctor Dolittle seems to have a mind that appreciates the value of all people and animals. Still, I can understand why modern versions take the general idea of the book (a man who can talk to animals) and goes ahead with a completely different plot. Upper elementary and middle school readers could enjoy this episode in the Doctor Dolittle saga with the right presentation, but I encourage you to read through your edition and the story you pick to make sure that either you are okay with the early 19th century portrayal of different races (or if yours is edited and updated, which is possible) or your child is mature enough to separate the wheat from the chaff in an otherwise fun story. This story was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1923.

Bambi: A Life in the Woods, by Felix Salten (1923): Bambi: A Life in the WoodsThis book kind of horrified me, actually. I mean, I think my mom read it to us when we were young, but I remember nothing of the completely frantic, hopeless feeling I get from it reading as an adult! The little tagline above the title on my copy–“The classic tale of a young deer and his animal friends”–does not even begin to actually describe the fullness of the contents. It starts out much like you’d expect it to (and I can only vaguely remember the Disney version, so I won’t reference it in comparison): young Bambi is born, and his mother leads and teaches him about the forest and about danger. He meets a few animal friends (mostly adult animals who, for some reason, he is somewhat disdainful of, and with whom he never has a close, mutual relationship), and he meets Faline and her twin brother, Gobo. So far, so good: a book for young children. From the moment He (a group of hunters, actually) surrounds the animals as winter takes its toll on them, things get pretty dark and despairing pretty fast. Bambi’s mother, of course, dies. Faline’s twin is assumed to have died, but he comes back in the spring, confident, healthy, and wearing a collar; he ends up being killed because he thinks He is no danger to them and takes no precautions. It starts feeling like a very fatalistic allegory. The characters display both what appears to be a very realistic anthropomorphism (the descriptions of the squirrel, especially, feel like what a squirrel would really be like if it could talk) and distinctly human emotions and philosophical questions (like Bambi’s disdain for the animals beneath him, his misunderstanding with the old stag, and the kind of morbid revelation (over the dead body of a human poacher, apparently) that He wasn’t really the all-powerful being in their world as they had assumed, that there was Another over them all). The shift from youthful cautionary tale to full-on life-and-death-and-despair comes pretty quickly, and the vocabulary actually seems to accelerate in complexity (propitiate, anyone?) as the book gets darker. While older readers would possibly be turned off by the childishness of the first few chapters, young readers might be easily confused and traumatized by the middle to end of the book. I did really like one chapter, though, and it wasn’t even about Bambi; it was chapter eight, a conversation between two leaves as autumn and its unpredictability have taken many of their companions, and they ponder and comfort one another in their uncertainty as winter comes and one of them is carried away suddenly in midsentence. The author was an Austrian Jew living in the aftermath of World War I (and beyond, after this book’s publication, with all that entailed), so I suppose he had every right to be despondent; I’m just not entirely sure how this came to be considered a classical work for children!

Winnie-the-PoohWinnie-the-Pooh, by A.A. Milne, with decorations by Ernest H. Shepard (1926): I thought I wouldn’t like this book because I’m not much fond of the animated Pooh (perhaps it’s just his voice…I know I can’t be the only one!), but I was kind of wrong! It’s a little like a Toys Go Out or Raggedy Ann Stories for the 1920s, and I actually found the exposition, the part where the author sets up how the Pooh stories get started, pretty funny. As much as it was always torture sitting through one of the videos (and we had to ban Pooh’s Grand Adventure because Owl’s warnings were too scary for GirlChild), I think I would enjoy reading this aloud to my kids! (I recognized several of the stories from animated versions, though, and the written ones were much more clever, in my opinion.) Pooh is perennially popular, and even my children have quilts with images based on the original decorations, copies of a few videos (given to us, though, not purchased), and a stuffed Pooh, Piglet, and Tigger. There are Pooh toys, books, or accessories in almost every daycare or nursery setting I’ve visited, and I can’t help but think of one of my best friends from middle school to college who had all manner of Eeyore paraphernalia in her dorm room! (He even showed up in my Bookworm Gardens post!) If you’ve not read the original, give it a try with your early elementary listeners, or hand a copy to your Toys Go Out loving reader for independent reading!

The Hardy Boys: The Tower Treasure, by Franklin W. Dixon (1927): The Hardy Boys: The Tower Treasure (book 1)This copy of the book may not be completely faithful to the original text, but there is enough of the ’20s left (including their style of dress, speech, and blunt characterizations) to be a little unwieldy for modern readers. That said, my brother and sister read all of these books, one by one, from our local library growing up in the 1980s, so there’s enough there to continue to intrigue new readers. (I never got into them; Trixie Belden and Nancy Drew were more up my alley.) From what I can tell, there continue to be additions to the series and other media portrayals enough to keep people interested! While I think it would probably take a high schooler to have enough understanding of the era to really put the story in context, the maturity of the story line is suitable for younger readers, and high school readers might find the stories too basic and predictable. That said, however, I felt a distinct lack of ability to get into the mystery because I didn’t feel like there was enough information (or enough comprehension on my side, perhaps!) for me to begin guessing at the solution, and my personal preference is to be guided through believable steps without any deux ex machina from private investigator fathers who provide key clues derived from off-screen (so to speak) encounters. I imagine that the Hardy Boys (ages 17 and 18 in this book) get more independent as the series progresses, however, so the mysteries may not continue to be as choppy and dependent on fortuitous intervention from their dad for the plot to thicken, and they may improve as the series develops. Or you might like them as they are!

The Trumpeter of KrakowThe Trumpeter of Krakow, by Eric P. Kelly, with decorations by Janina Domanska (1928): I’m actually kind of surprised that I hadn’t read this book yet because the title, with its reference to a trumpeter like myself, would have been a draw (and I know I have heard of it!), and I’ve always appreciated historical fiction. This is a little different than a lot of historical fiction I’ve read, and perhaps part of that is because the setting is a little different than most: Krakow, Poland, in 1462. The other part is the vast amount of historical information the author interrupts the story to provide (probably because his readers even in the 1920s weren’t particularly familiar with the setting). While that could be distracting, it was actually pretty helpful in my overall understanding of what was going on in the story! I feel like I could recommend this for upper elementary readers and above; it’s not too difficult to understand for younger readers because of the frequent historical reminders (including where the world was in terms of understanding alchemy and whatnot), but it’s not overly simplistic either, and it could definitely be used as a part of a European or Asian history class. The main character (who is actually not the official trumpeter!) is a fifteen-year-old Ukrainian boy with Polish roots who is coming to Krakow with his parents after a suspicious fire that destroys their home and farmlands. While the reader might originally think they are just refugees, eventually it is discovered that the boy’s father is hiding something valuable that his family has sworn to protect and to return to the king of Poland when its location is no longer able to be kept secret. Joseph, the boy, discovers this along with the reader, but we are privy to other information throughout the story that he still is not. The boy and his father both demonstrate the bravery, honor, and dependability that the villains in the book lack, and the story wraps up neatly with a simple “ever after” summary to follow the main story’s resolution. This story won the last Newbery Medal of the decade.

Hitty, Her First Hundred Years, by Rachel Field (1929): Hitty, Her First Hundred YearsI blogged about Hitty in my Dolls and Toyland post, so here’s the link instead of a re-review! She won the Newbery in 1930, too.

Besides these titles, check out the related list on What We Do All Day, where I discovered that the original publication of The Box-Car Children was in 1924, and the version we know today was edited and rewritten for publication in the 1940s! Here’s a link to the Project Gutenburg copy of the original.

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