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on Tuesday, 06 February 2007 in Uncategorized

The_giver_001

This is a copy of THE GIVER with the Margaret Edwards Award seal on it, sent to me by someone at the Young Adult Library Services Association, the group that gives the award.

This copy of THE GIVER is one of the ones with a different look from the better-known photo of the bearded man. Some time back, the paperback publisher, Random House, did this separate version when they became aware that the book was attracting an adult audience. This version has no mention of YA, or Newbery Medal. I like the painting, the very evocative hands-and-snowflake, though I am more fond of the bearded man, since he was an actual man whom I knew and was fond of, and I took the photo.

To reply to some of you who have sent in posts:

Viki asks if the leatherbounbd volumes will be available for sale. No, they are one-of-a-kind, which is why it was such a special gift. But THE GIVER and the two subsequent related books are available in a boxed set pubished by Random House; and in the boxed set is included a set of maps (drawn by me) of the three communities.

From 8th-grade Language Arts teacher Amy: I don't think The Giver should ever be read before junior high. I teach the book in my 8th grade English classes, and invariably, students of mine who read it in elementary school didn't "get it" or didn't appreciate it. How frustrating that 5th/6th grade teachers feel they should teach it --8th grade and beyond, in my opinion. I feel it is one of the best books of all time, and EVERY age beyond 13 should read it.

from Caroline: I read that you draw a picture of the lands in The Giver, Gathering Blue, and Messanger? I was wondering where I could see these maps, if possible. And that's a question I just answered! (above)

And someone named Dillon tells me there is a typo in the copy of the Newbery Acceptance speech found on my website. Rats. I'm sorry about that. But it is too hard to fix, once it is there on the website. I figure people will forgive my bad typing now and then.

****

I have been re-reading a classic, a book that I remembered very fondly: MY ANTONIA, by Willa Cather. It has always been one of my favorites, but I turned to it again recently after experiencing the death of two friends, because I was looking for a quotation that I have always loved:

I was entirely happy. Perhaps we feel like that when we die and become a part of something entire, whether it is sun or air, or goodness and knowledge. At any rate, that is happiness; to be dissolved into something complete and great. When it comes to one, it comes as naturally as sleep.

I did find it, early in the book, spoken by the young narrator of the story; and then I went on to read the entire book once again, and was not disappointed. But I was startled to see a few passages that could..should..be seen as racist. Our consciousness has been raised since then (the book was published in 1918), certainly. But of course no one can go back and revise a book that has long been in print. But oh, I would like to tap the author on the shoulder and say, "Ah, we don't say things like that any more, thank goodness." From what I know of Willa Cather, she was open-minded, comfortable with diversity. But she was of her time, a time thankfully long past.

MY ANTONIA is about the Scandinavian and middle-European immigrants who settled the central plains of the USA at the turn of the century. My own grandparents, Norwegian immigrants, were among those people and so the book is of special interest to me, portraying as it does the difficult times those settlers had and the way they worked ceaselessly to ensure an education and a prosperous future for their children. My grandfather was a blue-collar worker on the railroad; his son, my father, became a dental surgeon; his grandson, my brother, is an MD. It is a typical story. What the book reproduces so beautifully is the desperate hardships of those early years for that first generation, along with their great hope for the future, their love of the new land, and their bittersweet ties to the old country.

Here is a photo of my grandfather with his four brothers at the turn of the century. All dressed up and off to the photographer's studio...undoubtedly a big event.

Hammersberg_brothers

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