Thursday, February 22, 2007

Some lighter reading

As a bit of relief from some of the heavier reading I've done this month, I read a bit of children's literature--Lily's Crossing by Patricia Reilly Giff. This book, published in 1997, won a Newbery Honor Medal, although I never heard of it until I found it while browsing in the bookstore.

I'm not sure I really like Lily very much, but I suppose in many ways she is a real girl. She is capable of acting both generously and selfishly. She tells lies, but she feels guilty. She adores her father, but hurts him horribly. She is fiercely loyal to her friends, but takes her grandmother for granted. A real girl, with good traits and bad ones, who would rather sneak into the movie theater than pay for a ticket, even when she has the means, just for the thrill of it.

As might be expected, she gets into trouble, but it all comes out okay in the end. I didn't find the plot especially remarkable, nor the characters exceptional. I'm not sure why this earned a medal, although it is a good enough story. What I found most pleasant was the description of a lifestyle and childhood that is no more--a time when ten-year-olds could wander around town by themselves, swim in the ocean with friends, and row boats along the shore. A time when ordinary people could afford to spend the summer at the beach, and a girl could sleep on a porch which rose on stilts from the water. That world seems as remote as Connecticut, which is a very, very long way from Krakow.


At 4:29 PM , Blogger Laura said...

Reading descriptions of life, especially childhood, in a safer time appeals to me. I think I'll see if our library has this.

(I think the Newbery panel selects books based on what's not cheerful, pleasant, and fun to read. They look for "edgy," "gritty," etc. I have stacks of the Horn Book magazine going back to the 1920's and the articles in those by children's librarians, authors, and those in the children's book business always show an agenda of pushing children away from comfortable reads.)

At 1:50 AM , Blogger Bookwink said...

Another wonderful book about childhood is The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall.


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