Sounder
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Sounder

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3.93 of 5 stars 3.93  ·  rating details  ·  15,435 ratings  ·  551 reviews
Set in the Deep South, this Newbery Medal-winning novel tells the story of the great coon dog, Sounder, and the poor sharecroppers who own him.

During the difficult years of the nineteenth century South, an African-American boy and his poor family rarely have enough to eat. Each night, the boy's father takes their dog, Sounder, out to look for food and the man grows more de...more
Paperback, 128 pages
Published December 24th 2002 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 1969)
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Annalisa
This was required reading for me in 6th grade. I remember it opening my eyes to racism and I was appalled that anyone would be treated differently because of the color of their skin. Just after I'd finished the book, I walked into the bathroom in the Miami airport and saw two black women standing against the wall. To prove I wasn't racist, I stood between them until one leaned over and mentioned that it was a line. Sometimes it's better to be blind.
Christie Williams
Certainly, I value the storyline of poor black sharecroppers--it is an important narrative to tell. I did not, however, enjoy the the ways in which Armstrong told this narrative.

Except for the ending, I was bored by his stilted prose. That is my primary issue with the story. In addition, I was annoyed by the nameless characters in this story. I do not buy the suggestion that their namelessness suggests that they represent many poor and rural African Americans during this time. For me, their name...more
Rosa
I read this on a plane and I read it fast so that I wouldn't cry. Oh, it's so good. I don't know why I never read it in elementary school. I secretly have a tendency to avoid books that involve animals because I ALWAYS bawl. This was no exception. I LOVED the analogies between Sounder and the boy's father.
I highly recommend this book.
Ensiform
Winner of the 1970 Newbery. Set probably some time in the ‘30s, this book centers on an unnamed black boy who must grow up fast after his poor, sharecropper father is arrested for stealing a ham for his hungry family. The titular dog, a hound/bulldog mix who loves to hunt with the father, is hit with a shotgun during the arrest, and never hunts again. It’s a bleak tale; the boy’s silent rage, in which he visualizes brutal violence befalling the unjust, cruel white men who oppress him and his fat...more
Paula
I was on a Newbery kick and brought Sounder home from the library. My husband saw it and remarked that it would be a great read-aloud and asked if I'd read it before. I said that I couldn't remember if I'd read it (I'm like that sometimes).

Well, as it turns out, Sounder is not the type of book you'd forget that you'd read!

Sounder and his master, the boy's father, suffer similarly disfiguring fates at the hands of the law, and both return home to endure, then die.

I did love how the mom reacted...more
Ryan Miller
I know that Armstrong wrote this as a parallel to the story of Ulysses' dog, and that he intentionally left details ambiguous so that all readers could identify with the characters and setting, but I spent the entire book bothered by the way a white author portrayed an African-American family--none of whom were named. Identity is important, and when a book is written so intimately but without names, it devalues (for me) the importance of the characters themselves. I know Armstrong said he wrote...more
Sue
Jun 05, 2007 Sue rated it 5 of 5 stars Recommends it for: anyone.
I think this was one of the last books I read aloud to my family. I remember all of us lying on the bed while I read a chapter or two a night. I remember trying to read as I cried.
Josiah
I was very pleasantly surprised by this book (not that the story itself strikes a pleasant tone). In many years I would have quickly agreed that this is the best choice for the Newbery Medal, but for 1970, I would actually give the award to John D. Fitzgerald's "More Adventures of the Great Brain".
William H. Armstrong writes with quiet sincerity, and a truthfulness in detail that cannot be exceeded. What I liked best of all about this book is that young readers are so often told that no matte...more
Julie (Mom2lnb)
Mar 16, 2011 Julie (Mom2lnb) rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Fans of Modern Classics, Coming-of-Age Stories
Reviewed for THC Reviews
Sounder isn't so much a story about a dog as it is the coming of age story of an African American boy in the depression era South. There is a beauty in the simplicity of the author's writing which imparts a great deal of meaning in a minimum of words. William H. Armstrong was definitely an author who understood the meaning of the saying, “Less is more” and put it to good use. I never thought a book in which the characters have no names could be so powerful, yet even thoug...more
Hali French
I enjoyed reading this book however it is definitely not one of my favorites. The tone of this book was very emotional throughout the whole thing. It was obviously took place awhile back when there was racism and hard times. The little boy told his story throughout the whole book. The boys’ family and education were both very important to him. He helped support his family with his father and dog (Sounder). Until something went wrong and his father and dog were no longer around for a while. Sound...more
Rachel M.
*Note: This book really has a 1.5 star rating!!!

I've got to be honest...I know this book is a classic, but it did absolutely nothing for me. I have read so many other books that do a much better job of evoking sympathy over the racism that African-Americans faced in the Post-Bellum South. Although this novel presents literacy in a positive light and claims that an education is the key to securing a better future, this novel just does not have enough stuff going for it. The diction is neither bea...more
Emily
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Lorissa Slagle
Mar 31, 2014 Lorissa Slagle is currently reading it
The story Sounder, written by William H. Armstrong is about an African American southern family and their dog Sounder. The genre of the story is realistic fiction. The opening scene takes place on the front porch of the family's house with the father petting his dog and talking with his son. Although this family is mentioned throughout the story, the only name that is given is the dog Sounder.

The family's world is suddenly shaken when their father is arrested for the accusation of stealing ham....more
Duffy Pratt
I've read several of these Newberry honored books now, and they make me wonder about the committee. The picture I get of the voters are of a bunch of middle aged white folk who think of books as a kind of castor oil. Not good tasting, but it's medicine and it's good for you whether you like it or not.

This one checks off all the boxes. The writing is graceful and beautiful, but stilted. There are a couple of events, but no story here. Story is something kids might like, so we can't have any of th...more
Bluesparklegirl
Mar 18, 2008 Bluesparklegirl rated it 1 of 5 stars Recommends it for: no one!
Shelves: already-read
Personally I think this book was horrible. I read this in class. I mean, who would want to read a book about a dog who got shot in the ear, lost an eye, and lost a leg?! I recommend you avoid reading this book.
Steve Hemmeke
A quick and useful read on negro life as a sharecropper. The people have no names, to make the point that their dignity is diminished in society. But the identity of the dog is linked with the boy and the father.

[spoiler alert]


The dog is carelessly shot and grievously wounded, and the father is arrested equally carelessly. The dog doesn't die until he sees the man return home. The father doesn't die until he sees his family again.

I read this to see if it a suitable for my children, ages 9-12, an...more
Jennifer
Sounder is a powerful story about a young african american boy and his sharecropper family. The boy (we are never given his name), their dog Sounder, and his father often hunt for possum and raccoon during the winter months to help feed the family and bring in extra money. Unfortunately the weather is not favorable for hunting and the boy's father steals a ham to feed the family. Shortly afterwards, the white deputy shows up to take the boy's father to the town prison to await trial. As they are...more
Ali
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Megan
Why is it that any book with a dog in it always is sad? Look at the evidence, Old Yeller, Where the Red Fern Grows, The Art of Racing in the Rain and Marley and Me are just a few I can think of? Animals and dogs in particular tend to pull at the heart strings of the average human, I think. The author, William Armstrong used the term human animal, which I found particularly pertinent. You don't necessarily have such an attachment to a cow or goat, but the way a dog looks or acts just oozes feelin...more
Alisha
Newbery book, 1970

wow.

there is a whole lotta "i'm going to fantasize about hurting other people" in this book. And that is something I am not comfortable with, for my children to read, pretty much ever. BC the thing is, I would place this book at about a 12 yr old level, BUT with the advent of ridiculously violent movies and video games, I don't want their reading material to ALSO be filled with fantasized violence.

I was talking to my mother about this, that it bothered me, but I could somewhat...more
TeacherMrLoria
I've been reading a lot of young adult books recently so that I can teach them to my students or simply recommend them as good reading. Sounder is a book that I remember loving as a kid. I actually think it made me cry when I read it in 6th grade (or whenever I did actually read it).
The story line is fairly simple, the characters are pretty interesting, and it is set in an interesting historical period. The protagonist is a young black teenager whose family is a sharecropping family. It is a go...more
Hayley Larson
Sounder was a book about an African American boy whose father goes to jail after stealing ham to feed his family. When the boy’s father gets taken away, the family’s hunting dog, Sounder, gets shot and disappears for a very long time. I thought that book was rather strange. I kept waiting for something significant to happen and it never did. The time lapse in the book was very muddled. For example, I thought maybe a month had gone by and once the author finally got around to saying how long it h...more
Yulonda
This was a book that I wanted to like, but it was clear from the start that this was going to be a difficult task. The author's note at the beginning states that Sounder is really a story told to him by "a gray-haired black man who taught [at] the one-room Negro school." While the author remembered much about the old black man and the stories he told, he did not mention his name. I found this strange.

This namelessness continued in the novel, as none of the characters, except for the dog, Sounde...more
Faith Schweizer
Although I was not around in the nineteen century, William H. Armstrong, the author of "Sounder" really helped me to feel as if I were there. I felt sympathy for the black boy and his family as they were going through tough times. The main setting of the book takes place in their small, dingy cabin located near one white man's plantation, but out away from the other houses, schoolhouse, and local jailhouse.

One interesting approach that the author took was naming only one character, Sounder. The...more
Jinky
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Rachel
Blah - can that be my review?

Okay, I know that this is a Newberry, but I can't hide the fact that none of us enjoyed this book. It was dull, boring, and uneventful. Every night the kids would say, "we don't like this book. It's sad, it's boring. Why don't they name the characters?" Every night I would say, "I think it's just about to get better." By Chapter 5 I was frustrated and had given up on something interesting happening. We read it just to finish it, but none of us wanted to or enjoyed it...more
Marti
Apr 11, 2012 Marti rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: teen
So far it's horribly depressing... :p

Update: If you are clinically depressed or think you may be clinically depressed, do not read this book. If you are interested in becoming clinically depressed, feel free to read it!

This is one of the most bleak "children's" books I've ever read. Starting w/ the father in the story stealing a ham to feed his family, if there's a bad thing that could happen to him and his dog and family, it does. I realize that people of their station in that time period didn...more
Becky
I remember reading this when I was maybe 8 or 9, and of being completely inconsolable afterwards. I have an overactive empathy gene, I think, so certain books affect me far more that I would like to be affected. Thankfully, this time around, I was able to read through this without going through a box of Kleenex during and a period of depression afterwards.

Sounder is a story that deals with loyalty and loss, as well as courage and perseverance in the face of racism and hatred and meanness. So ma...more
Snorkle
I kept expecting this story to get better, but it never did. I did not see the point of this book or why I should feel overly sorry for this boy and his family. The story just stretched out in a listless manner that made me want to give up, and I would have, but the book was so short I thought I'd keep reading (plus it was a Newbery Medal). I didn't love the characters and though it portrayed history in a different light I didn't feel like I was learning anything from the novel or characters. Th...more
Christopher
5th grade - 8th grade

This book is short yet advanced. Sounder is 80 pages in length with 33 lines of 12 point text. There are no pictures. The story has many complex sentences. Armstrong's Sounder is a Newbery Award winner and an excellent book. Despite that though, I might think twice about bringing this book into the classroom. The story is very, very sad and sort of a hard knock life tale. If I decided to choose this book to lead a unit, I would focus on the emotional aspects of the boy, his...more
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Sad, Happy, Or Both? 7 11 Mar 26, 2014 09:04PM  
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William H. Armstrong (September 14, 1911 near Lexington, Virginia - April 11, 1999 in Kent, Connecticut) was an American children's author and educator, best known for his 1969 Newbery Medal-winning novel, Sounder.
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“One day might be different from another, but there ain't much difference when they're put together.



September 14, 1911: Writer and teacher William Armstrong wrote celebrated children's books including the Newbery Medal-winning Sounder, about an African American sharecropper family with a loud and loyal hound, inspired by Odysseus' dog Argus. Armstrong was born in Virginia 102 years ago today.”
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