Sunday, March 2, 2008

Four Newbery Winners Out of Print and a Gold Star for Tedium

I thought you all might be interested in knowing that only four Newbery winners are out of print:

1925 -- Tales from Silver Lands by Charles Finger
1932 -- Waterless Mountain by Laura Adams Armer
1935 -- Dobry by Monica Shannon
1940 -- Daniel Boone by James Daugherty

No one here's read Waterless Mountain yet. I'm actually glad Daniel Boone isn't easily available anymore, and I'm not all that surprised that the surreal Tales from Silver Lands isn't still being sold. It fits the stereotype of the Newbery award in this funny Salon.com article: A Gold Star for Tedium: Do the Newbery Medal-Winning Children's Books Really Have to Be So Dreary?

The author, E.J. Graff, had exactly my take on Island of the Blue Dolphins, but she (or he?) was sooooo wrong about A Year Down Yonder and Out of the Dust.
So why, instead of delightful and powerful fictions, give children these other insomnia-curing books written in terrifyingly earnest and plodding prose, full of stick figures -- books as free of passion as a bad educational documentary, books that could turn an imaginative child into a dedicated television fan?
Graff goes to highlight some books that didn't win the Newbery, to compliment a few recent winners (like Holes), and to suggest that parents read the books before they give them to their kids (which I have to agree with):
It's time we adults grew up -- and start thinking of the Newbery medalists as suggestions, not final judgments. It's time to stop treating children -- the children we were, the children we know now -- as less perceptive and emotionally sophisticated than they are. It's time to chase away that lurking childhood belief that the ALA's committee of librarians -- the experts -- has some special insight into what children want to and should read. Before you buy a Newbery book for your daughter, your nephew, your young friend -- or yourself -- start reading. See how long it keeps you riveted. Ask yourself whether you'd rather read that or "Anne of Green Gables," "Tom Sawyer," Edith Hamilton's Greek myths, "My Antonia," "Annie John," "To Kill a Mockingbird," "War and Peace" or any other truly memorable book. Your guess may well be as good as the ALA's.

3 comments:

Amanda (the librarian) said...

Well, I think you can still get Waterless Mountain, at least in some parts of the world - I didn't order it last year when I was replacing worn copies of Newbery books because we already had THREE copies of it. I'll try to get to that one during Spring Break, too (along with Shen of the Sea and Smoky, the Cowhorse).

Thanks for the link to the article!

Anonymous said...

I did find a copy of Daniel Boone on ebay for about 8.00 with shipping it is from the 1940's so keep looking.

Sandy D. said...

Anonymous, if I had a copy of "Daniel Boone" I'd honestly be torn between selling it for big bucks (if possible) and tossing it in the trash. I thought it was that bad. It's hitting my liberal anti-book-burning beliefs hard, I tell you.