What We Like
After reading the back matter, I took out a few of Giono’s books: Blue Boy, a 1946 edition of Jean le Bleu (1932) that was adapted into a play, La Femme du Boulanger (1938). Blue Boy was a semi-autobiographical story set in Provence, France, with an enticing first page. It plunged into mind-bending descriptions of the rural poverty of an 11-year old boy. I finished it. The play expanded on a tale of passion and desire that Giono hinted at in Blue Boy. I didn’t finish it. The Horseman on the Roof, translated in 1981 from the French (1951), started with 20 pages about a heat-wave that brought on a cholera epidemic in southern France. His descriptions of the ferocity of the plague were so intense, I stopped reading.
Back to Newbery Awards. Despite not usually reading historical fantasy, The Grey King, The Dark Is Rising Sequence (1975) by Susan Cooper, was fascinating from the first page to the last. Cooper’s story dealt with an old prophecy set in Wales. The 11-year-old boy who was sent to the country to recuperate met up with an albino boy and between the two, they had amazing adventures in shape-shifting dimensions. Not to be too picky, most of the characters were men, dogs and foxes; women were mostly farmwives; and the main character’s sister was totally in the background. Even so, well done. We like what we like, right?
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