In Alabama, school starts in early August these days. That means that this week and next week, teachers are putting their flip flops away and are returning to their classrooms to get things ready for another school year. Jake is one of those teachers, and he is having to take a break from the Newberys for a while .This means I (Benji) will be traveling the Newbery trail alone for a bit. While this is sad news, it also gives me a bit of an opportunity to catch up. About a year ago, Jake had read about 30 more Newbery winners than I had, this summer, I managed to pull within 10 titles. Hopefully, by the time Jake returns to the challenge, I’ll be even with or ahead of him.
This week, I read Young Fu, the 1933 winner, and I have to admit that when I first picked it up off of the shelf in my school library, I muttered an unrepeatable word under my breath. Not only was it another Newbery set in the Far East (the previous winners set in Asia were usualy boring, and sometimes a bit racist) but it was a thick, heavy book. Luckily though, the size was misleading. The way it was printed makes it look like a 500-600 page novel, but in reality it was really about 250 pages. For me the story was absolutely charming. I loved Young Fu, as a character and I was totally absorbed into his adventures in Chungking. His journey from boyhood to manhood made for a good story. I feel like the Elizabeth Foreman Lewis had a good grasp of Chinese culture. I didn’t find the book racist or condescending at all.
This probably would have been a three Newbery pie book, but since it surpassed my expectations, and eased my dread, I happily give it four.