I started a project this past summer where I read one book from each bookshelf of the Children’s (Juvenile Fiction) section of the library. The book I choose has to be one I’ve never read before – and I can’t read a book in a series I’ve read part of. After I read each book, I write a short review and post it where I post all the other books I read, on my reading blog.
#11:M.C. Higgins, The Great (Virginia Hamilton)
M.C. Higgins’ family has lived on Sarah’s Mountain for generations. But now a spoil heap from the coal company is threatening to tumble down onto their home. M.C. is spending his summer watching his siblings from the top of his pole, going swimming, and meeting up with his secret friend Ben. Two outsiders are heading into the hills though, and each of them will change the way M.C. sees himself and the world.
I would definitely read this book again, it’s one of my favorites I’ve read recently. The world of the hills seems so magical and otherworldly, yet still so real, and all the characters have such presence. This book won the Newbery Medal in 1975.
#12:The Year of Miss Agnes (Kirkpatrick Hill)
Told from the point of view of a young girl growing up in a small Alaskan village in the late 1940’s. The new teacher, Miss Agnes, is unlike the others they’ve had before in their one-room schoolhouse. She opens up the world to the kids, teaches them that it is within their reach, and at the same time respects their families’ native language, culture, and traditions. A very interesting window on a life different than most portrayed in children’s books.
#13:Finn Family Moomintroll (Tove Jansson)
#14:Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat (Lynne Jonell)
Emmy’s family recently inherited a large house and a large amount of money from a distant relative. Ever since they moved in, and Emmy got a nanny named Miss Barmy, things have seemed a bit off. Emmy’s parents used to love spending time with her, now they are always off traveling, and seem to forget she even exists. Miss Barmy keeps feeding her weird “health food”, and never lets Emmy out of her sight. Emmy tries so hard to be good so that her parents will want to spend time with her, but when she helps the class pet rat escape and they become friends, she finds it’s enjoyable to be bad sometimes. Emmy is thrown into a mystery involving her parents, her weird nanny, supernatural rodents, an underground rat city, and the odd time when nobody seems to be able to remember that she exists.
#15:The Mysterious Edge of the Heroic World (E.L. Konigsburg)
Amedeo Kaplan has just moved to town, and is looking for a friend, and a treasure to discover. He gets both in William Wilcox, who is helping in his mom’s estate sale business by cleaning out the treasure-filled house of Mrs. Zender, Amedeo’s neighbor. When they find a small drawing by Modigliani in her library, Amedeo starts to uncover it’s history, and finds that it links Mrs. Zender, Nazi Germany, and his godfather, Peter Vanderwaal.
The characters seemed not very fleshed out, and there were plenty of issues, such as the class difference between Amedeo and William, that I wish had been explored further. I eventually figured out that this book was meant to tie in to several others with the same characters, and their back-stories are explored further in those books.