Newbery Roundup! The 1970s

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 fifth set of winners, from 1970-1979. Have you read any of them?

1970 — "Sounder" by William H. Armstrong

During the difficult years of the nineteenth century South, an African-American boy and his poor family rarely have enough to eat. Each night, the boy's father takes their dog, Sounder, out to look for food and the man grows more desperate by the day. When food suddenly appears on the table one morning, it seems like a blessing. But the sheriff and his deputies are not far behind. The ever-loyal Sounder remains determined to help the family he loves as hard times bear down on them.


1971 — "Summer of the Swans" by Betsy Byars

Sara's fourteenth summer was turning out to be the most confusing time of her life. Up until then, things had flowed smoothly, like the gliding swans on the lake. Now she wanted to fly away from everything — her beautiful older sister, her bossy Aunty Willie, her remote father, and, most of all, from herself. But could she fly away from Charlie? She loved her younger brother in a way she couldn't understand, though sometimes she grew tired of his neediness. But when Charlie himself took flight, Sara suddenly knew what she had to do....


1972 — "Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH" by Robert C. O'Brien

Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death. But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilemma. And Mrs. Frisby in turn renders them a great service.


1973 — "Julie of the Wolves" by Jean Craighead George

Alone and lost — on the North Slope of Alaska. Miyax rebels against a home situation she finds intolerable. She runs away toward San Francisco, toward her pen pal, who calls her Julie. But soon Miyax is lost in the Alaskan wilderness, without food, without even a compass. Slowly she is accepted by a pack of Arctic wolves, and she comes to love them as though they were her brothers. With their help, and drawing on her father’s training, she struggles day by day to survive. In the process, she is forced to rethink her past, and to define for herself the traditional riches of Inuit life: intelligence, fearlessness, and love.


1974 — "The Slave Dancer" by Paula Fox

Jessie Bollier often played his fife to earn a few pennies down by the New Orleans docks. One afternoon a sailor asked him to pipe a tune, and that evening Jessie was kidnapped and dumped aboard "The Moonlight," a slave ship, where a hateful duty awaited him. He was to play music so the slaves could "dance" to keep their muscles strong, their bodies profitable. Jessie was sickened by the thought of taking part in the business of trading rum and tobacco for blacks and then selling the ones who survived the frightful sea voyage from Africa. But to the men of the ship a "slave dancer" was necessary to ensure their share of the profit. They did not heed the horrors that every day grew more vivid, more inescapable to Jessie. Yet, even after four months of fear, calculated torture, and hazardous sailing with a degraded crew, Jessie was to face a final horror that would stay with him for the rest of his life.


1975 — "M. C. Higgins, the Great" by Virginia Hamilton

Mayo Cornelius Higgins sits on his gleaming, forty-foot steel pole, towering over his home on Sarah's Mountain. Stretched before him are rolling hills and shady valleys. But behind him lie the wounds of strip mining, including a mountain of rubble that may one day fall and bury his home. M.C. dreams of escape for himself and his family. And, one day, atop his pole, he thinks he sees it — two strangers are making their way toward Sarah's Mountain. One has the ability to make M.C.'s mother famous. And the other has the kind of freedom that M.C. has never even considered.


1976 — "The Grey King" by Susan Cooper

With the final battle between the Light and the Dark soon approaching, Will sets out on a quest to call for aid. Hidden within the Welsh hills is a magical harp that he must use to wake the Sleepers — six noble riders who have slept for centuries. But an illness has robbed Will of nearly all his knowledge of the Old Ones, and he is left only with a broken riddle to guide him in his task. As Will travels blindly through the hills, his journey will bring him face-to-face with the most powerful Lord of the Dark — the Grey King. The King holds the harp and Sleepers within his lands, and there has yet to be a force strong enough to tear them from his grasp... Book 4 of The Dark Is Rising sequence.


1977 — "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" by Mildred D. Taylor

Why is the land so important to Cassie's family? It takes the events of one turbulent year — the year of the night riders and the burnings, the year a white girl humiliates Cassie in public simply because she's black — to show Cassie that having a place of their own is the Logan family's lifeblood. It is the land that gives the Logans their courage and pride — no matter how others may degrade them, the Logans possess something no one can take away


1978 — "Bridge to Terabithia" by Katherine Paterson

Jess Aarons' greatest ambition is to be the fastest runner in his grade. He's been practicing all summer and can't wait to see his classmates' faces when he beats them all. But on the first day of school, a new girl boldly crosses over to the boys' side and outruns everyone. That's not a very promising beginning for a friendship, but Jess and Leslie Burke become inseparable. Together they create Terabithia, a magical kingdom in the woods where the two of them reign as king and queen, and their imaginations set the only limits.


1979 — "The Westing Game" by Ellen Raskin

A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing's will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger — and a possible murderer — to inherit his vast fortune, one thing's for sure: Sam Westing may be dead... but that won't stop him from playing one last game!

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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