Since I'm way behind on reviews and don't have much to say about these three books, I'm doing some blazing fast reviews, focusing on just what-it's-about and what-it-made-me-feel and did-I-like-it. Couple of them - Number the Stars and Bud, not Buddy are Newbery Medal winners and focused on a younger audience than The Lonely Hearts Club. They cannot be more different in theme and focus, but I enjoyed all three of them.
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry: This is probably one of the most well-known Newbery Medal winners out there. (Maybe I say that because it's the first Newbery Medal winner that I heard of, but I do know that this is quite a popular book.) Number the Stars follows ten-year old Annemarie and her best friend, Ellen, who is Jewish. Their native country - Denmark - has surrendered to the Nazis and these two girls miss life before the Nazis' arrival. However, Jewish people in their town are slowly disappearing - relocated by the Nazis and Anne's family wants to protect Ellen and her parents from that option. Ellen soon moves in with Anne's family and pretends to be one of them. Except it isn't as easy as it sounds, because Nazi soldiers come knocking and want to capture the missing Jew families.
Number the Stars was a refreshing read. I didn't love it, but I definitely enjoyed reading it. The WW2 and the "relocation" of the Jews is an entirely different matter reading from the perspective of a child. The focus is less on hardships and more on a child's perception of the change in circumstances. The Afterword contained some valuable tidbits of history and I loved learning about how many Danes were involved in protecting and hiding several Jews and helping them to Sweden.
Number the Stars won the Newbery medal in 1990.
Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Curtis: Set during the Depression era, Bud (not Buddy, as he keeps reminding people) decides that he has had enough of foster homes and plans to escape from his current one when the foster parents ill-treat him. He is never seen without his suitcase, in which are things that remind him of his mother, who died four years ago. In this suitcase are a bunch of flyers that mention a bandleader, who he assumes to be his father. On he goes on a journey to find his father, and on the way, he meets some really quirky interesting characters.
I listened to Bud, Not Buddy during my road trip to Raleigh couple of weeks ago. And I found that this was a perfect book to listen to. The narrator does a fab job of mimicking the characters and there are some really laugh-out-loud moments. It was funny, light and full of genuine innocence. I admired Bud quite a bit and loved how he has been creating a set of "Bud Caldwall's Rules and Things to have a Funner life and Make a Better Liar Out of Yourself". These rules are really gems - stuff we know instinctively but never appreciate, such as how when someone says 'didn't you hear?', they really mean 'I have some bad news for you', and so on. I was surprised that by the age of ten, he already had made a ton of rules, but then he has been living on his own or in foster homes for quite a while. Bud has a ten-year old's innocence, such as when he meets a man on the road and sees blood bags in his car, he assumes that man is a vampire. All in all, this was a terrific book! And fun to listen on audio, for all you audiogeeks out there!
Bud, Not Buddy won the Newbery medal in 2000.
Bud, Not Buddy won the Newbery medal in 2000.
The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg: Penny had all sorts of wonderful plans for a life with her boyfriend, until she walked into him cheating on her. Now she is sick of boys and has completely sworn off dating and boys. There are some of her friends who scoff at her initially, but soon most of the girls want a part of it. Soon, they are the new club - The Lonely Hearts Club - which is getting the boys frustrated and the girls more independent. Except, now there is this one guy that she really likes.
I won this book at Kathy's Bermudaonion's Weblog last year and have since been eager to read it, especially after the many raving reviews I've come across. After being disappointed by a string of young adult novels, I was worried that I won't enjoy this one either, but surprisingly, it worked really well for me. I guess the main reason is The Lonely Hearts Club features a genuinely strong female character, who isn't thinking solely about boys or obsessing about appearance most of the time. I know these two are pivotal themes of high school, but that sometimes tends to come out as shallow in books. I found this book very enjoyable - the kind of book that shows a lot of girl power and you love it for that reason and for everything else the characters do. No, this isn't any hard message kind of book - just a usual girl who's heartbroken after her boyfriend cheated on her, and then she decides to swear off boys. Her parents also happen to be crazy fans of The Beatles, as in, ultra- uber- insanely-crazy, and so there are plenty of music references too.