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M.C. Higgins, the Great

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3.39 of 5 stars 3.39  ·  rating details  ·  2,274 ratings  ·  134 reviews
M.C. Higgins dreams of saving his family's home from strip miners. It is not until two strangers enter his life that he learns the answer to his dreams lies in coming to terms with his family heritage and his own identity. A Newbery Medal Book.
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 30th 1993 by Simon Pulse (first published 1974)
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Amber the Human
I'm sorry to say I didn't really enjoy this book. So far there hasn't been a Newberry Award winner I haven't liked, but I just didn't get this one. To start with, the pole was confusing. It's 40 high, and there's a bicycle seat on top, and pedals that do nothing, and only MC can climb it but it's also a memorial? Huh? This book was like a poem I can't grasp, or like a dream that is confusing and a little disturbing but you can't quite remember what happened or why it bothered you. The writing wa ...more
Sandy D.
M.C. Higgins didn't seem all that great to me, unfortunately. I just didn't like the guy that much, even if pole-sitting and wearing lettuce leaves stuck in rubber bands around your wrists greeting the sun was interesting.

I wanted to like this book by Virginia Hamilton. I thought her descriptions of southern Ohio (or was it West Virginia or northern Kentucky?) were magical, and the characters were interesting. The parts about strip-mining were ominous and probably realistic. The witchy six-fing
...more
Lars Guthrie
I knew Virginia Hamilton as a collector of folk tales (the fabulous 'The People Could Fly' and 'The Dark Way'). Aware that she had won the Newbery for 'M.C.,' I have meant to read it for some time, but was put off by the covers of the editions I have seen (especially the current paperback shown here). Which just goes to show you how powerful a bad cover can be, and how misleading. Because this is an amazing novel. It's not really magical realism because it is absolutely real, but everything in i ...more
Ann
I've decided to read as many as I can of Virginia Hamilton's books for Black History Month 2013. Last year, I read all of Mildred Taylor's Logan family saga in chronological order rather than by publication date. That was an awesome experience! In truth, the national celebration 'for remembrance of important people and events in the history of the African diaspora' just gives me a chance to read and revisit these remarkable works for young readers.

So I started with M.C., Hamilton's Newbery Medal
...more
DaNae
I'm at a loss, I either want to give this book five stars or one. I see by the average of almost exactly three I am not alone.

It took me most of the week to get M.C. read. I’m not sure what I expected, by the title maybe something along the lines of Ramona the Brave or The Great Gilly Hopkins – a mix of audaciousness self-delusion and vulnerability? Come to think of it, I guess that is what I got with M.C., but in such a different package from than what Cleary and Patterson delivered.

Although I
...more
regina
Apr 04, 2007 regina rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: relevant topics w/ poetic style
I read this book twice because it's just so beautiful. It is intended for young adults, but it may be too sophisticated for many readers(young or old).

The main character lives on the side of a mountain that his grandmother claimed when she fled slavery. The mountain is being stripped for minerals and is threatening to collapse. But his family don't want to leave--this home is their heritage. What else will they have?

Every scene is rich with metaphor, no character is saintly (which is often the c
...more
Wendy
(I always thought this would be a funny book--doesn't the title sound like the title of a funny book?--but it's not, at all.)

This was an interesting book and the writing was lovely, but I thought it was trying to do too many different things--I'd like it better with more focus.
Shirley
I had never heard of this novel before requesting a copy with NetGalley. The synopsis intrigued me. This is the story of a boy, aged 13, who dreams of leaving his home on the mountain, who hopes his mother's incredible voice is the answer that will take him and his family far away. He has fears. Fears of the mountain sliding down, burying all in its path, including his home. It is a coming of age story too, as M.C. Higgins struggles with the inner turmoil that sits in the young, a turmoil that p ...more
Emily
This is a story of a boy (M.C. HIggins) growing up on a mountain in basic isolation from anyone but his family. His mother's a great singer and "the dude" comes to maybe record her voice and take them off the mountain. Also, an *annoying* girl comes and M.C. thinks he might have a crush on her/she's a way off the mountain/whatever. But she leaves and honestly I didn't see the point to her even being in the story at all. I could not stand most of it and just didn't get the rest of it.

Also-if he
...more
Carol
Hamilton takes us to a rough and fantastical household in Appalachia. M.C. Higgins, the Great, thirteen, is the oldest child who watches over his siblings from the top of a 40-foot pole, hunts with his hands, and rebelliously befriends a six-fingered boy whose family is considered witchy.

I couldn't tell if he loved or hated his father whom his son calls Jones; they play-fight with a fierceness that made me uncomfortable. His mother tells her son, 'He's Jones. And don't you forget it.'

He has hi
...more
Ruth E.
1975 Newbery winner -author/illustrator Virginia Hamilton - Mayo Cornelius (M.C.) lives on Sarah's Mountain named for his great grandmother. He feels the need to leave the mountain because of the rubble that threatens his family's home from the strip mining. He is friends with Ben a family that seems witchy by M.C. family's standards. A man named Lewis comes to the mountain to tape record his mother's singing and M.C. thinks a recording contract will get them off the mountain. The man in the end ...more
Phil Jensen
Girl stabbing!

I admit that I did some stupid things to get girls' attention when I was MC's age, but I never tried stabbing them. It works out OK for him, so maybe I should have tried.

Seriously, this is an obvious case of boys-will-be-boys going a little too far. Hamilton does a great job of creating characters and an atmospheric, thematic environment. The problem of the book is that many readers are not especially interested in the characters, their environment, or their internal struggles. Mos
...more
Carl Nelson
1975 Newbery Medal recipient.

I liked some parts of this book, principally the evocative descriptions of life in the mountains along the Ohio River. MC was an interesting character, and his growth was nicely depicted. Unfortunately, there were many facets of this book that made it something of a chore to read. First, the events are bizarre and the symbolism is totally beyond my grasp. The forty foot pole with a bicycle seat and pedals at the to where MC would sit? The tunnel? The incident between
...more
Joy
1975 Newbery Medal

M.C. Higgins lives with his family on the side of Sarah's Mountain. His mother cleans houses and his father works at the steel plant when a worker is out sick. He spends a lot of his time sitting on a pole in their backyard or trapping rabbits or secretly visiting his friend Ben who is one of the "witchy people." Two strangers come to the area. One is tape recording singers and the other is a young girl who is camping. Coal miners have come to mine the coal in the area and M.C.
...more
Ron Christiansen
A fresh breath of air for ch lit--little dependency on plot, symbolic, beautiful, moving...yet hard to sell my ch lit students on.
Debbie
37: 1975: M. C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton (Macmillan)

6/2/13 (278 pages) M.C. lives in the mountain-woods in an area long-ago settled by his great-grandmother, Sarah, a former slave. He is responsible for his younger siblings while his mom, and his dad when possible, work. Their mountain area is being transformed by coal miners who are whittling it down to get to coal. The miners leave the remnants in a spoil which M.C. fears. A stranger, called the dude by M.C., comes to record vo
...more
Jen
I read this because I had vague memories of it from childhood. I remember being confused by it and very uninterested (probably because it is so atmospheric). Now that I've reread it, I realize why our teachers did a unit based on this book. It's set in Appalachia and has themes related to environmentalism, being kind to others, self reliance, poverty, etc. Even though it had been about 20 years since I read this book- I still knew certain plot points, although they didn't come back to me until I ...more
Janice
Mayo Cornelius Higgins worries. He worries about how his family is going to survive the strip mining that is going on above his family’s land. He expects that any day the earth is going to give way and bury them.

He dreams of a way to get his family out of there. He thinks he has found a way through a stranger coming to listen to the singing of the mountain people. M.C. knows his mother’s voice is the best around. He hope the man will record it then take the family away when he makes M.C.’s moth
...more
Linda Lipko
Virgina Hamilton was the first African American to receive a Newbery Medal (1975.) Her book is the only book to receive three prestigious awards. In addition to the Newbery Award, it also received the Boston Globe-Horn book Award and the NationalBook Award.

M.C. (Mayo Cornelius) Higgins and his family are mountain dwellers who live a plain, rugged life overlooking rolling, beautiful hills. Amid the beauty is the reality that the coal miners have desecrated the land, and thus the way of living for
...more
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
‘”I don’t know.” M.C. signed. “…But I’m getting tired of Daddy. Tired as I can be.”

“Come on,” Banina said. “We’ll miss the morning sun.” And later: “It’s not your daddy you tired of, M.C. It’s here. It’s this place. The same thing day after day is enemy to a growing boy.”

And all the ghosts, M.C. thought. All of the old ones.’

M.C. lives on the side of a mountain, just like his father before him and his grandmother before him. But all that must come to an end. Strip mining threatens to send a pile
...more
Viviane Crystal
M. C. Higgins loves where he lives, Sarah Mountain, a land in Ohio that has belonged to his family for a very long time. He has a huge pole with wheels on which he sits and can see the entire mountain and even beyond to the nearest town. But what he most loves about the mountain are the trees, animals, rivers, everything about nature with its own moods and beauty surpassed by nothing or no one.

His Dad is very harsh with him but it's a loving harshness. But his Dad just doesn't get the message t
...more
Kelley
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Newbery Winner
This story is about Mayo Cornelius Higgins, M.C Higgins, as he dreams of him and his family escaping from their mountain home and a life of mining.

Setting
The setting in this story plays an important part in the plot of this story. M.C. Higgins home is on a fictional Mountain, Sarah’s Mountain that is supposed to be a part of the Appalachian chain. It is a beautiful setting that the main character loves, but there are also the scars of the mining that goe
...more
April Helms
This was a thought-provoking read, very subtle. There isn't a lot in the way of plot; this story propels itself along from the force of its characters, particularly the young protagonist, M.C. I think preteens and younger teens can enjoy this story, but it will challenge them as well. This is one of those stories where the reader has to read between the lines, and there is a lot of symbolism. In the story, M.C. is the oldest of four children. His parents scratch out a living in the nearby towns, ...more
Jessica
I received this book for free from the publisher. All content and opinions are my own.

I didn't know much about this Newbery Medal (and National Book Award) winner by Virginia Hamilton except that I'd never read it, so I jumped at the chance to get the ebook from Open Road via NetGalley. Here's the blurb:

Mayo Cornelius Higgins perches on top of a homemade forty-foot tower, considering two destinies. Behind him is his family’s beloved house at the foot of a mountain that strip mining has reduced t
...more
Deven Black
This Newbery Award-winning book is not for everyone. Action, intense drama and humor all are absent from this slow-moving tale in which reality, daydreams, internal-dialogs and seemingly telepathic communication add up to a thought-provoking novel that probes the fear-powered mythologies people create. By examining how action is paralyzed and potentially rewarding relationships are poisoned, Hamilton helps readers understand how their own internalized narratives guide, and possibly misguide, the ...more
Adriel
This is the kind of book that teachers assign kids that make them hate to read award winning books. It is clear that no kids sit on the award committees. I tried to like it, really, but I couldn't make it though for chapters. It was clear from the beginning nothing was going to happen like M.C. thought it would. I found the setting so strange, I needed a nap and some photographs to feel like I could understand the place they lived.
Ariel
I must say, for a book that was the winner of a Newbery Medal, I was disappointed. My main problem with the book was how it was written. I can best describe the style as 'ADD': the story will go from describing M.C.'s daily routine to a flashback concerning his father to M.C.'s dreams of his mother becoming a professional singer so that they can move off the mountain - all within two pages!. I haven't read any other works by Ms. Hamilton, so I don't know if she regularly writes in this style. Bu ...more
Alisha
Newbery winner.

I read too many reviews of the book before attempting to write my own. Looks likes this is a love or hate book and i'm on the hate side.

Symbolism and mysticism were there, so were his all red-headed neighbors who were shunned by the community for the self-sufficient communal lifestyle. My own judgment comes from his completely inappropriate actions towards Lurhetta and the message that would give to young boys reading this book just discovering their sexuality-- it was extremely
...more
Shirley Brown
As this was a winner of the Newberry Medal I was expecting a better story. It was well written, but I thought the story and content was beyond most eight year-olds. Appropriate for a twelve year old probably and the cultural background was interesting however. The story over-all didn't seem probable to me.
Anna
The conflict overshadowing the story (literally, hanging on a mountainside, threatening to come down on a family's house) is compelling and the characters are interesting but the story is so slow and ponderous that I spent the the first 2/3 of the book wanting to abandon it. (Let us not even get into the uncomfortable depictions of violence and force as "play"). It was a serious struggle to get to a point where things start to get more interesting. At that point it becomes a lesson in the less-c ...more
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