Newbery 100 Challenge: Week 3

The Giver

by Lois Lowry



(Coach J’s Choice)

The 73rd winner of the Newbery Award, The Giver follows the life of young Jonas, a twelve year old selected for the most revered job in his community: Receiver.

In a -topian-styled future (dis- or u-, you be the judge), the Community Elders (government) regulate every part of its citizens’ lives. Dreams are repressed, color removed from the world, and careers, spouses, family units, and virtually a person’s entire schedule are provided by the government. As Jonas begins to “receive” the memories of the past to aid in the Elders’ decision making, he begins to plan a future that is much more colorful.

“They were satisfied with their lives which had none of the vibrance his own was taking on. And he was angry at himself, that he could not change that for them.”

I read this book in elementary school for the first time (and almost every year since). I was introduced to it in one of those classes the luckiest of us were able to call our own. I had that class (and ELA teacher: Mr. Mason at PME) two years in a row. Those are years in the classroom in which I have modeled my entire teaching career, and hope to recreate those experiences in our new endeavor. Speaking of our, The Giver gets a special shot out from my spouse Jo, who also loves this book, so much so that we intend to name a son Jonas. We have two daughters, so that dream lives on! Additionally, Lois Lowry is in a prestigious class of having won more than one Newbery (Number the Stars, 1990). This book might make you rethink what freedom really means.


The Cross of Lead

by Avi


Last Fifty

(Books Awarded Between 1972 and 2021)

The 82nd winner of the Newbery Award, Avi’s novel, Crispin: The Cross of Lead is a story of a thirteen year old peasant in Medieval England. “Accused of a crime he did not commit, he has been declared a “wolf’s head.” That means he may be killed on sight, by anyone. If he wishes to remain alive, he must flee his tiny village. All the boy takes with him is a newly revealed name—Crispin—and his mother’s cross of lead.” (Avi’s website)

“Lose your sorrows, and you’ll find your freedom.”

Prior to reading this novel written by Avi, I was familiar with another one of Avi’s stories: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle (A Newbery Honor Book, 1991-stay tuned for next week’s 1991 winner, a Coach J favorite!). I found Crispin to be interesting and entertaining, and I wonder how my interpretation of it was affected by having just read another Newbery winner set in Medieval Europe immediately preceding this one (The Door in the Wall). The stories had some overlap, but Crispin reads a bit like a blockbuster film. A youngster loses everything, befriends a few interesting people who help him stay alive, and then finds not only what he is, but who he is in the end. “He discovers that by losing everything, he has gained the most precious gift of all: a true sense of self.” (Avi’s website)