Tuesday, October 31, 2000

A Year Down Yonder - and Another Novel from Me a Year from Now?

This is the fifth book I've read in my exploration of Newbery-award-winning children's books. A definite pattern is developing. Like Rebecca Stead's When You Reach Me and Clare Vanderpool's Moon Over Manifest, Richard Peck's A Year Down Yonder explores the life of a girl making sense of life in another era. Like Manifest, it also helps if the story involves being displaced from one's family while they try to get back on their feet financially.

The cynic in me says that apparently to win a Newbery all I have to do is mimic this apparently tried-and-true formula. I must admit, though, that these books have inspired me to write a tale in a similar vein. Hopefully my motives remain, however, to serve the story first and foremost and not shoot for some lofty and unlikely dream. My newest story idea is that of a 12-year-old girl who spends the summer with her grandparents at Topsail Island in North Carolina. While helping Grandpa at the sea turtle rescue center he runs, the girl helps rescue a turtle with a tracking device. The device leads her on an interesting journey - and the possible discover of Atlantis.

Sea Turtle Hospital in South Padre Island, Texas

In the Newbery winners I've dissected thus far, the real story behind all of them is the journey on which the main character goes. The character doesn't actually do any traveling, but learns about herself because of the people around her. In Peck's Yonder, Mary Alice's year with her grandmother opens her eyes to just how much Grandma takes care of the people in her town despite appearing very gruff and unapproachable.

Book Trailer

My greatest lesson in all this is to 1) create an interesting story and 2) populate it with interesting characters. Hopefully, let's say a year from now, we'll see if I've accomplished that with my Atlantis-themed book.

Richard Peck on Writing

Monday, October 16, 2000

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe published 50 years ago today

First posted 6/11/2020; updated 7/6/2020.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

C.S. Lewis

First Publication: October 16, 1950

Category: fantasy children’s novel

Sales: 85 million

Accolades (click on badges to see full lists):

About the Book:

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe was the first in a series of seven children’s fantasy novels known as The Chronicles of Narnia. WK C.S. Lewis “wrote the book for, and dedicated it to, his goddaughter Lucy Barfield. She was the daughter of Owen Barfield, Lewis’ friend, teacher, adviser, and trustee.” WK

“Shortly before the Second World War many children were evacuated from London to the English countryside to escape bomber attacks on London by Nazi Germany.” WK In 1939, three girls came to live at Lewis’ home. He gained a new appreciation for children and he started a story about four siblings who had to leave London because of the air raids and live with a relative of their mother.” WK

“The novel uses Christian iconography in Aslan's dramatic sacrifice and resurrection. Edmund's transition from self-interested schoolboy to heroic young man is also resonantly spiritual.” TG

Most of the story “is set in Narnia, a land of talking animals and mythical creatures that one White Witch has ruled for 100 years of deep winter.” WK After the youngest of the four children visits Narnia “via the magic of a wardrobe in a spare room” WK she is accompanied by her siblings on “her third visit, which verifies her fantastic claims.” WK “The siblings seem fit to fulfill an old prophecy” WK and “when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change…and a great sacrifice.” AZ

Resources and Related Links: