Posts Tagged ‘1970s’

A utopian future on a planet with lowered gravity, psychic abilities, and naturally abundant food – what could be better?  I read these books repeatedly as a kid, and still love them today.  Of course, the utopia cracks under the pressure of the secrets it is keeping, and courageous children must save the day.  The trilogy is a surprisingly sophisticated analysis of utopian ideals, for books aimed at children.  The cultures that evolved on this planet are well-reasoned extensions of their histories, and the overall story is believable, given the premise.  Plus, people get to fly and sleep in nests.

Author: Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Order: Below the Root; And All Between; Until the Celebration



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Title: The Slave Dancer

Author: Paula Fox

Newbery 1974

What an absolutely brutal book.  I rarely unrecommend books, but this one I can’t, in good conscience, suggest that anyone read.  While brutality is not necessarily a bad thing in a book about illegal slave trade in the late 1800s, it seemed like it was horrific with very little information or redeeming value given in return.  If you want to know more about that time period, read something like Roots, watch Amistad, read just about anything else.  I am guessing there are some more recent books that show the reality of the time more accurately with less unnecessary horror.

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SylvesterandtheMagicPebbleTitle: Sylvester and the Magic Pebble

Author/Illustrator: William Steig

Caldecott 1970

This was one of my absolute favorite books as a child.  It’s even good for pre-readers, because the pictures are so clear you can follow the story without the words.  There are also a couple of jokes in the pictures that are not there in the words (confused ducks and lions, for example). The donkeys are nicely anthropomorphized – wearing human clothes and walking on their hind legs, but clearly donkeys nonetheless.  The final image of Sylvester and his parents on the couch is, I think, permanently in my brain. All of Steig’s books are classics in the truest sense.

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Mrs.FrisbyandtheRatsofNimhTitle: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH

Author: Robert C. O’Brien

Illustrator: Zena Bernstein

Newbery 1972

I remembered reading this book as a child, and I remembered totally loving it, but that was all. What a pleasure to reread. The story of the rats of NIMH is wonderfully complicated and just this edge of believable. There is a cautionary tale for science there, and a question of whether the rats should be angry or grateful because of what’s been done. The initial predicament is a little contrived, but forgivable for the inventiveness of the rest of the story. The ending begs for a sequel, which I gather was written by the author’s daughter. Worth a try.

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