Newbery Roundup! The 1980s

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 sixth set of winners, from 1980-1989. Have you read any of them?

1980 — "A Gathering of Days: A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-1832" by Joan W. Blos

I, Catherine Cabot Hall, aged 13 years, 6 months, 29 days…do begin this book. So begins the journal of a girl coming of age in nineteenth-century New Hampshire. Catherine records both the hardships of pioneer life and its many triumphs. Even as she struggles with her mother’s death and father’s eventual remarriage, Catherine’s indomitable spirit makes this saga an oftentimes uplifting and joyous one.


1981 — "Jacob Have I Loved" by Katherine Paterson

Esau have I hated... Sara Louise Bradshaw is sick and tired of her beautiful twin Caroline. Ever since they were born, Caroline has been the pretty one, the talented one, the better sister. Even now, Caroline seems to take everything: Louise's friends, their parents' love, her dreams for the future. For once in her life, Louise wants to be the special one. But in order to do that, she must first figure out who she is... and find a way to make a place for herself outside her sister's shadow.


1982 — "A Visit to William Blake's Inn: Poems for Innocent and Experienced Travelers" by Nancy Willard

Inspired by William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, this delightful collection of poetry for children brings to life Blake’s imaginary inn and its unusual guests.


1983 — "Dicey's Song" by Cynthia Voigt

When Momma abandoned Dicey Tillerman and her three siblings in a mall parking lot and was later traced to an asylum where she lay unrecognizing, unknowing, she left her four children no choice but to get on by themselves. They set off alone on foot over hundreds of miles until they finally found someone to take them in. Gram’s rundown farm isn’t perfect, but they can stay together as a family — which is all Dicey really wanted. But after watching over the others for so long, it’s hard for Dicey to know what to do now. Her own identity has been so wrapped up in being the caretaker, navigator, penny counter, and decision maker that she’s not sure how to let go of some responsibilities while still keeping a sense of herself. But when the past comes back with devastating force, Dicey sees just how necessary — and painful — letting go can be.


1984 — "Dear Mr. Henshaw" by Beverly Cleary

Leigh has been Boyd Henshaw's number one fan ever since he was in second grade. Now in sixth grade, Leigh lives with his mother and is the new kid in school. He's lonely, troubled by the absence of his father, a cross-country trucker, and angry because a mysterious thief steals from his lunchbag. Then Leigh's teacher assigns a letter-writing project. Naturally Leigh chooses to write to Mr. Henshaw, whose surprising answer changes Leigh's life.


1985 — "The Hero and the Crown" by Robin McKinley

Aerin could not remember a time when she had not known the story; she had grown up knowing it. It was the story of her mother, the witchwoman who enspelled the king into marrying her, to get an heir that would rule Damar; and it was told that she turned her face to the wall and died of despair when she found she had borne a daughter instead of a son. Aerin was that daughter. But there was more of the story yet to be told; Aerin's destiny was greater than even she had dreamed for she was to be the true hero who would wield the power of the Blue Sword...


1986 — "Sarah, Plain and Tall" by Patricia MacLachlan

Set in the late nineteenth century and told from young Anna's point of view, Sarah, Plain and Tall tells the story of how Sarah Elisabeth Wheaton comes from Maine to the prairie to answer Papa's advertisement for a wife and mother. Before Sarah arrives, Anna and her younger brother Caleb wait and wonder. Will Sarah be nice? Will she sing? Will she stay?


1987 — "The Whipping Boy" by Sid Fleischman

A shout comes echoing up the stairway. "Fetch the whipping boy!"


A young orphan named Jemmy rouses from his sleep. "Ain't I already been whipped twice today? Gaw! What's the prince done now?" It was forbidden to spank, thrash, or whack the heir to the throne. Jemmy had been plucked from the streets to serve as whipping boy to the arrogant and spiteful Prince Brat. Dreaming of running away, Jemmy finds himself trapped in Prince Brat's own dream at once brash and perilous.


In this briskly told tale of high adventure, taut with suspense and rich with colorful characters, the whipping boy and Prince Brat must at last confront each other.


1988 — "Lincoln: A Photobiography" by Russell Freedman

Abraham Lincoln stood out in a crowd as much for his wit and rollicking humor as for his height. This Newbery Medal-winning biography of our Civil War president is warm, appealing, and illustrated with dozens of carefully chosen photographs and prints. The biography begins with a lively account of Abraham Lincoln's boyhood, his career as a country lawyer, and his courtship and marriage to Mary Todd. Then the author focuses on the presidential years (1861 to 1865), skillfully explaining the many complex issues Lincoln grappled with as he led a deeply divided nation through the Civil War. The book's final chapter is a moving account of that tragic evening in Ford's Theatre on April 14, 1865. The biography concludes with a sampling of Lincoln writings and a detailed list of Lincoln historical sites.


1989 — "Joyful Noise: Poems for Two Voices" by Paul Fleischman

Joyful Noise is a collection of irresistible poems that celebrates the insect world. Funny, sad, loud, and quiet, each of these poems resounds with a booming, boisterous, joyfulnoise. The poems resound with the pulse of the cicada and the drone of the honeybee. They can be fully appreciated by an individual reader, but they're particularly striking when read aloud by two voices. Eric Beddows′s vibrant drawings send each insect soaring, spinning, or creeping off the page in its own unique way.

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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