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Newbery Pie

A review site

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April 2015

Miracles on Maple Hill: The 1957 Winner

maple

This one was really good. The 1950’s Newbery winners, for the most part, have been terrific books. This one is about a family who moves to Maple Hill, a “sugar camp” in New England in an attempt to help their father, who was a prisoner of war in World War II get over his PTSD. While they are there, the children fall in love with their surroundings and discover many miracles in nature and in their relationships with their neighbors .

I loved the characters and the setting. The writing is beautiful, as are the illustrations.

I think the novel could have gone from being really good to great if it would have focused a little bit less on the nature of Maple Hill (Not that it was bad. There was just a LOT of it) and more on the dad’s struggles with his war memories. There was much more story there, that I felt like was left unexplored. On the whole, though, it was a solid book, and probably my favorite Newbery Winner up until this point, chronologically.

I give it 4 out of 5 Newbery Pies

Carry on, Mr. Bowditch the 1956 Newbery Winner

This was a very readable book. Even if I didn’t enjoy is as much as I did the last two Newbery winners, it wasn’t excruciatingly painful or anything like that.  I just don’t enjoy nautical tales that much. It’s a personal preference thing. Then there was the whole “Boys don’t blubber” thing in the beginning that made me roll my eyes a few times. It reminded me a lot of the exaggerated “tough boy” Johnny Tremain. Actually a lot of the book reminded me of Johnny T. I liked the whole ,”sailing by the ash breeze.” theme, and for the most part, I liked the book. I just didn’t love it.  Honestly, Beezus and Ramona should have won the medal.

I give it three out of five Newbery Pies

The Wheel on the School: The 1955 Newbery Winner

t seems like I’ve crossed some kind of threshold. The Newbery winners in the 1950’s seem to be getting better, less painful to read.

I really enjoyed this one. I like how the story started with a question. “Why don’t Storks visit our town like they do other towns?” The students thought about it and came up with a hypothesis. This hypothesis led to a plan, and that plan became an obsession. The obsession spread from the students and kind of took over the town and everyone untied for a cause. Grown ups and elderly people the students had never interacted with before became their friends and allies. The books also proves that even in the 1950’s, a narrator could treat a disabled character with respect and not toss out words like “cripple.” There’s no excuse for it in 2015.

The Sendak illustrations, were of course, marvelous.

If I have any criticism of the book, it’s that the story probably could have been told just as effectively in many fewer pages, but that’s my 2015 opinion.

I give it 4 out of 5 Newbery Pies

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