As we talked about yesterday, I have started reading all of the Newbery Award Winners in chronological order. And can I be honest? I, Mrs. “I believe in children’s literature,” have been struggling. Because can I just tell you… the 1920s were a rough spot for children’s literature. And it doesn’t get a whole lot better for a couple decades to come.
I’m talking really long, really boring, really random, occasionally not entirely politically correct… Tough stuff. I went into this project realizing I wasn’t going to love every book I came across. But it is going to take me years to finish this list if I can’t make it through Smokey the Cowhorse without falling asleep. Every. Time.
I’ve made it through the first 5 books. In about 4 months. Guys… This is not a sustainable pace. But let me show you what I’m working with here:
This book is literally the story of mankind. Like from the cavemen until the Great War. And then an addition in the back added after its original publication in 1922. It’s epic, to be sure.
Suffice to say it wasn’t the uplifting break from my stressful graduate school studies in History that I was hoping for. But I finished it! And then I moved on to The Voyages of Dr. Dolittle, which was quite fun, then The Dark Frigate, which was not. Next up was Tales from the Silver Lands, which I had to borrow from another library. Imagine my surprise when they sent me this copy:
A first edition from 1924! Not only that, but:
It was signed by the author! That alone made up for the less than thrilling tales from Central America. I mean… they were entertaining and all, but again, not necessarily the uplifting break from my studies in Latin America I was hoping for.
Then came Shen of the Sea, which was basically Tales from the Silver Lands, but Chinese instead of Guatemalan. That one was a bit more fun to read. It told the story of how the kite was invented, how Wing Doh invented a Look-through-the-wall, how Princess Chin Uor’s mud pies were used as plates (and later became known as China), and how Ah Tcha fought Oo Loong the dragon (and therefore Ooloong Tea came about).
Next up, and the one I am currently reading, is Smoky the Cowhorse. I can already tell you this one is going to take a while. I have a strict no animal books policy. The animals always die: the dog always dies, the horse always dies, the cat always dies. So I just don’t read them. And Smoky the Cowhorse is a long tale of this horse’s life. I’m sure it’s a lovely tale, but it is a long one nonetheless. So we’ll see how long that one takes.
I’m very excited about getting past the 20s and 30s and into more midcentury books… But that will probably take another year or so. I will definitely keep you all updated on my progress (whenever there is some!)
Is there some sort of list you would like to accomplish? How long do you usually give a list (or book for that matter) before you give up?