Monday, July 14, 2008

1980 - A Gathering of Days

A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-32 by Joan W. Blos won the Newbery Medal in 1980. As you might guess, the book is written in the form of a diary which was kept by thirteen year old Catherine Hall who tells about her life in rural New Hampshire in the early 19th century.

I liked the opening of the book which was a letter from Catherine to her great-granddaughter who was turning fourteen. She writes, "Once I might have wished for that: never to grow old. But now I know that to stay young always is also not to change. And that is what life's all about - changes going on every minute, and you never know when something begins where it's going to take you. So one thing I want to say about life is don't be scared and don't hang back, and most of all, don't waste it."

The beauty of this small book is in the descriptions, both of the physical places and the emotions of the young girl who loses her mother and her best friend to fevers. Until her father remarries, she must take care of her younger sister. Young children (we have it with a recommended reading level of grades 4-8) might appreciate Catherine's emotions as her new "mother" moves in with them and brings many changes to their home!

In addition to winning the Newbery Medal, this book also won the American Book Award (Children's Fiction) in 1980.

TITLE: A Gathering of Days
AUTHOR: Joan W. Blos
PAGES: 144
TYPE: Fiction
RECOMMEND: I really liked this book and would recommend it to children who are interested in New England history or how young people lived in the past.


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