Newbery Roundup! The 1950s

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 third set of winners, from 1950-1959. Have you read any of them?

1950 — "The Door in the Wall" by Marguerite de Angeli

The bells clang above plague-ridden London as Robin lies helpless, cold, and hungry. The great house is empty, his father is fighting the Scots in the north, his mother is traveling with the Queen, and the servants have fled. He calls for help but only the stones hear his cries. Suddenly someone else is in the house, coming towards Robin. It is Brother Luke, a wandering friar, who takes Robin to St. Mark's Monastery, where he will be cared for until his father sends for him. At last, a message comes Robin is to meet his father at Castle Lindsay. The journey is dangerous, and the castle is located near the hostile Welsh border. Perched high in the hills, the castle appears invincible. But it is not. Under the cover of a thick fog the Welsh attack the castle. And Robin is the only one who can save it...


1951 — "Amos Fortune, Free Man" by Elizabeth Yates

When Amos Fortune was only fifteen years old, he was captured by slave traders and brought to Massachusetts, where he was sold at auction. Although his freedom had been taken, Amos never lost his dignity and courage. For 45 years, Amos worked as a slave and dreamed of freedom. And, at age 60, he finally began to see those dreams come true.


1952 — "Ginger Pye" by Eleanor Estes

Meet the marvelous Pyes:

     There is Mrs. Pye, the youngest mother in town;

     Mr. Pye, a famous bird man, who handles all the nation’s important bird problems;

     Rachel Pye, who is so reasonable she can make unreasonable ideas sound like good ones;

     Jerry Pye, who knows about rocks of all sorts and plans to grow up to be a rock man;

     Uncle Bennie, who is Jerry and Rachel’s uncle — even though he’s only three years old.

     Lastly is Ginger Pye, the “intellectual dog,” who Jerry bought for a hard-earned dollar. The most famous pup in all of Cranbury, Ginger knows tons of tricks, is as loyal as he is smart, and steals the hearts of everyone he meets... until someone steals him!


1953 — "Secret of the Andes" by Ann Nolan Clark

An Incan boy who tends llamas in a hidden valley in Peru learns the traditions and secrets of his ancestors. "The story of an Incan boy who lives in a hidden valley high in the mountains of Peru with old Chuto the llama herder. Unknown to Cusi, he is of royal blood and is the 'chosen one.' A compelling story." —Booklist 


1954 — "...And Now Miguel" by Joseph Krumgold

Every summer the men of the Chavez family go on a long and difficult sheep drive to the mountains. All the men, that is, except for Miguel. All year long, twelve-year-old Miguel tries to prove that he, too, is up to the challenge that he, too is ready to take the sheep into his beloved Sangre de Cristo Mountains. When his deeds go unnoticed, he prays to San Ysidro, the saint for farmers everywhere. And his prayer is answered... but with devastating consequences.


1955 — "The Wheel on the School" by Meindert DeJong

Why do the storks no longer come to the little Dutch fishing village of Shora to nest? It was Lina, one of the six schoolchildren who first asked the question, and she set the others to wondering. And sometimes when you begin to wonder, you begin to make things happen. So the children set out to bring the storks back to Shora. The force of their vision put the whole village to work until at last the dream began to come true.


1956 — "Carry On, Mr. Bowditch" by Jean Lee Latham

Nathaniel Bowditch grew up in a sailor’s world — Salem in the early days, when tall-masted ships from foreign ports crowded the wharves. But Nat didn’t promise to have the makings of a sailor; he was too physically small. Nat may have been slight of build, but no one guessed that he had the persistence and determination to master sea navigation in the days when men sailed only by “log, lead, and lookout.” Nat’s long hours of study and observation, collected in his famous work, The American Practical Navigator (also known as the “Sailors’ Bible”), stunned the sailing community and made him a New England hero.


1957 — "Miracles on Maple Hill" by Virginia Sorensen

Marly and her family share many adventures when they move from the city to a farmhouse on Maple Hill. Her father is recovering from being a prisoner-of-war. The small town and the varied happenings and activities of country life help them to recover from past unhappiness, and bond more closely as a family.


1958 — "Rifles for Watie" by Harold Keith

A captivating and richly detailed novel about one young soldier who saw the Civil War from both sides and lived to tell the tale.

Earnest, plain-spoken sixteen-year-old Jeff Bussey has finally gotten his father’s consent to join the Union volunteers. It’s 1861 in Linn County, Kansas, and Jeff is eager to fight for the North before the war is over, which he’s sure will be soon.But weeks turn to months, the marches through fields and woods prove endless, hunger and exhaustion seem to take up permanent residence in Jeff’s bones, and he learns what it really means to fight in battle — and to lose friends. When he finds himself among enemy troops, he’ll have to put his life on the line to advance the Union cause.


1959 — "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" by Elizabeth George Speare

Orphaned Kit Tyler knows, as she gazes for the first time at the cold, bleak shores of Connecticut Colony, that her new home will never be like the shimmering Caribbean island she left behind. In her relatives' stern Puritan community, she feels like a tropical bird that has flown to the wrong part of the world, a bird that is now caged and lonely. The only place where Kit feels completely free is in the meadows, where she enjoys the company of the old Quaker woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond, and on occasion, her young sailor friend Nat. But when Kit's friendship with the "witch" is discovered, Kit is faced with suspicion, fear, and anger. She herself is accused of witchcraft!

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 and Amazon.

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