Newbery Roundup! The 1940s

Updated: Aug 20, 2020

The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.


The Newbery Medal has been given out annually since 1922, and many of the recipients have been favorites ever since!


Here is the second set of winners, from 1940-1949. Have you read any of them?

1940 — "Daniel Boone" by James Daugherty

James Daugherty dipped his pen and his brush into our nation's most dynamic character, whose life adventures are more exciting than the shadowy legend his name brings to mind. Daniel Boone was a farmer who couldn't stay put. Something was always pulling him westward into new and mysterious lands, and when this pull got so strong that he could no longer ignore it, and his wife and children could not persuade him to stay, he just went, with his toes pointing into the West and his eyes glued to the hills. The rugged sweep which has always distinguished Mr. Daugherty's illustrations and painting distinguishes his epic prose here as well, and makes for perfect portrayal of the vigorous character of Daniel Boone.


1941 — "Call It Courage" by Armstrong Sperry

Mafatu was afraid of the sea. It had taken his mother when he was a baby, and it seemed to him that the sea gods sought vengeance at having been cheated of Mafatu. So, though he was the son of the Great Chief of Hikueru, a race of Polynesians who worshiped courage, and he was named Stout Heart, he feared and avoided the sea, till everyone branded him a coward. When he could no longer bear their taunts and jibes, he determined to conquer that fear or be conquered — so he went off in his canoe, alone except for his little dog and pet albatross. A storm gave him his first challenge. Then days on a desert island found him resourceful beyond his own expectation. This is the story of how his courage grew and how he finally returned home. This is a legend. It happened many years ago, but even today the people of Hikueru sing this story and tell it over their evening fires.


1942 — "The Matchlock Gun" by Walter Edmonds

In 1756, New York State was still a British colony, and the French and the Indians were constant threats to Edward and his family. When his father was called away to watch for a raid from the north, only Edward was left to protect Mama and little Trudy. His father had shown him how to use the huge matchlock gun, an old Spanish gun that was twice as long as he was, but would Edward be able to handle it if trouble actually came?


1943 — "Adam of the Road" by Elizabeth Janet Gray

"A road's a kind of holy thing," said Roger the Minstrel to his son, Adam. "That's why it's a good work to keep a road in repair, like giving alms to the poor or tending the sick. It's open to the sun and wind and rain. It brings all kinds of people and all parts of England together. And it's home to a minstrel, even though he may happen to be sleeping in a castle." And Adam, though only eleven, was to remember his father's words when his beloved dog, Nick, was stolen and Roger had disappeared and he found himself traveling alone along these same great roads, searching the fairs and market towns for his father and his dog.


1944 — "Johnny Tremain" by Esther Forbes

Johnny Tremain, a young apprentice silversmith, is caught up in the danger and excitement of 1775 Boston, just before the Revolutionary War. But even more gripping than living through the drama of Revolutionary Boston is the important discovery Johnny makes in his own life.


1945 — "Rabbit Hill" by Robert Lawson

It has been a while since Folks lived in the Big House, and an even longer time has passed since there has been a garden at the House. All the animals of the Hill are very excited about the new Folks moving in, and they wonder how things are going to change. It's only a matter of time before the animals of the Hill find out just who is moving in, and they may be a little bit surprised when they do.


1946 — "Strawberry Girl" by Lois Lenski

Strawberries — big, ripe, and juicy. Ten-year-old Birdie Boyer can hardly wait to start picking them. But her family has just moved to the Florida backwoods, and they haven′t even begun their planting. "Don′t count your biddies ′fore they′re hatched, gal young un!" her father tells her. Making the new farm prosper is not easy. There is heat to suffer through, and droughts, and cold snaps. And, perhaps most worrisome of all for the Boyers, there are rowdy neighbors, just itching to start a feud.


1947 — "Miss Hickory" by Carolyn Sherwin Bailey

Most dolls lead a comfortable but unadventurous life. This was true of Miss Hickory until the fateful day that her owner, Ann, moves from her New Hampshire home to attend school in Boston — leaving Miss Hickory behind. For a small doll whose body is an apple-wood twig and whose head is a hickory nut, the prospect of spending a New Hampshire winter alone is frightening indeed. In this classic modern day fairy tale, what’s a doll to do?


1948 — "The Twenty-One Balloons" by William Pène du Bois

Professor William Waterman Sherman intends to fly across the Pacific Ocean. But through a twist of fate, he lands on the secret island of Krakatoa where he discovers a world of unimaginable wealth, eccentric inhabitants, and incredible balloon inventions. This classic fantasy-adventure is a joy for all ages.


1949 — "King of the Wind" by Marguerite Henry

He was named "Sham" for the sun, this golden red stallion born in the Sultan of Morocco's stone stables. Upon his heel was a small white spot, the symbol of speed. But on his chest was the symbol of misfortune. Although he was as swift as the desert winds, Sham's proud pedigree would be scorned all his life by cruel masters and owners. This is the classic story of Sham and his friend, the stable boy Agba. Their adventures take them from the sands of the Sahara to the royal courts of France and, finally, to the green pastures and stately homes of England. For Sham was the renowned "Godolphin Arabian" whose blood flows through the veins of almost every superior Thoroughbred. Sham's speed — like his story — has become legendary.

Some of these books are available at the Swanton Public Library. If you are interested in reading one that we don't have, we can definitely order a copy!


We'll continue rounding up the Newbery Medal winners by decade until we reach today. Stay tuned!

Descriptions adapted from GoodReads.

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