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Sounder

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3.97  ·  Rating details ·  27,722 ratings  ·  1,156 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
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Paperback, 128 pages
Published December 30th 2019 by HarperCollins (first published January 1st 1969)
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Duncan I think so. I would consider in historical fiction
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Average rating 3.97  · 
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 ·  27,722 ratings  ·  1,156 reviews


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Candi
"I had a father and a dog named Sounder…"

Believe it or not, this was my first time reading this classic Newbery award-winning book. I’m not sure why I didn’t read it as a child – I certainly read my fair share of animal books. I have to wonder if I would have felt the same overwhelming sense of loneliness I felt reading this now. I suspect I would have to some extent at least.

The story revolves around a poor, African-American family living in the Deep South. They struggle to get by on sharecropp
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Chrissie
A classic worthy to be classified as such.

Prose--simple, strong and emotive. This is how prose should always be! Words that clutter and all that is unnecessary are removed.

The book is quiet. There is no fanfare. Hardships are relentless yet they do not conquer the family, and in this there lies hope.

The tale looks at a poor, black sharecropper family in the South. Events are told from the perspective of and through the thoughts of the family’s eldest son. He has had two years in school when th
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Diane Barnes
Feb 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Dog story par excellance! Of course, tears at the end because...dog story.
Libby
Published in 1969, ‘Sounder’ by William H Armstrong won the Newberry Medal in 1970, and was made into a movie in 1972. A family of black sharecroppers live a subsistence lifestyle, supplementing their meager diet with what the father can provide from hunting, possums, raccoons. Lately, the raccoons have been scare. Sounder, part redbone hound and part bulldog is their melodious hunting dog. His calling bark echoes through the trees and all the neighbors know his unique sound. It seems Sounder’s ...more
Christie Williams
Jan 09, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
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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. I was embarrassed and confused. Perhaps it's not the best way to introduce a chil ...more
Ryan Miller
Sep 08, 2012 rated it it was ok
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
Josiah
Apr 24, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was pleasantly surprised by this book, though the story itself doesn't strike a pleasant tone. In most years I would quickly agreed that Sounder was the best choice for the Newbery Medal, but for 1970 I probably would have given the award to John D. Fitzgerald's More Adventures of the Great Brain.

William H. Armstrong writes with a quiet sincerity I have not seen exceeded. Young readers are often told that no matter how they feel now, everything will be okay eventually; in the long run their h
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Camie
Mar 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“ He had asked the teacher what it meant, and the teacher had said that if a flower blooms once, it goes on blooming somewhere forever. It blooms on for whoever has seen it blooming. It was not quite clear to the boy then, but it was now. Years later, walking the earth as a man, it would all sweep back over him, again and again, like an echo on the wind. “
Classic “ children’s” book and Newberry Award winner about a poor black sharecropper’s family and their dog Sounder, which you will understan
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Laura
An emotional book with elements of love, loss, growth and hope.
Trish
Jul 26, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was, surprisingly, a VERY depressing read. Especially considering that it is for small children. Don't get me wrong, I think the experience is worthwhile, but it isn't done too often.

The story is that of a poor black family whose father eventually steals food when he and his dog, the titular Sounder, can no longer find any game. I could now tell you of the struggle and the hardship and the pain (both physical and emotional) but that might spoiler too much of the plot. As you can see from th
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Ensiform
May 12, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, newbery
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
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
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Sandy
This is the most depressing book that I have read in aeons! Endless hardship, disappointment, and tragedy. Occasionally, a mote of happiness, a hint of celebration, would beam through the grey skies, only to be stamped out with the vigour of a sledgehammer brought down upon an ant. Gloomy day followed gloomy day. Disasters heaped one upon the other. So why the four stars? A fair question. I did not enjoy this book. Did the author intend that this book should give enjoyment? Probably not. Hence, ...more
Rosa
Apr 14, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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.
Duffy Pratt
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: childrens, classic
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
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Paula
Jun 12, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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Janet C-B
This is a classic book that I had not read before. It is brief. The human characters are not named. They are referred to as the boy, his mother, his father, the teacher.
I expected this book to be somewhat of a cliche i.e. young boy is attached to his dog, Sounder, and the dog dies. The end.
I will not divulge how the story actually ends, because that would be a spoiler.
This is a powerful story with universal themes that are appropriate for people of all ages.
The audiobook had an excellent narra
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Sue
Jun 05, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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.
Dee's Reading Zone
A childhood favorites...
Ericka Clouther
This is not a book about a boy and his dog. It ripped my heart out. The writing is excellent. It feels too heavy and possibly subtle for children, but maybe for high schoolers.
Tina
A dog only has one true master and Sounder would wait for his master to come home for a very long time. Dogs are loyal in a way no other creature ever will be. A horse is probably second in loyalty. My pony threw me off his back one time only to run away and come back and nuzzle me on the ground and nose me all the way back to the barn while I bawled my eyes out. A cat, well, they may love you, but they are far more interested in their own space and independence and will hide before they would e ...more
Rachel M.
Oct 23, 2011 rated it did not like it
*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
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Quirkyreader
Jan 06, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For me it was a very fast read of a thought provoking story. I hope my students enjoy it as much as I did.
Margie
May 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
An exquisitely told tale - simple in execution and profound in thought, one that stays in your mind and heart long after you have finished it.
Julianna
May 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
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Franky
Feb 28, 2019 rated it really liked it
William H. Armstrong’s Sounder explores the life struggles of an African American family during the turn of the century. The family dog, Sounder, is a beloved member of the family who helps them during troubled times by hunting and being a loyal companion.

Sounder is a quick read that probably could be done in a day’s time or less. Within Armstrong’s novel are themes such as poverty, discrimination and perseverance against life’s struggles. A key point in the story comes when the father of the f
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E.F.B.
Apr 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: animals, classics
I read this book way back in...I can't even remember which grade. Maybe 1st or 2nd grade? My school had a summer program and they'd give us a quiet hour every day to pick a book and read, and for some reason I chose "Sounder" that year. It really surprised my mom and teachers that I chose it, because it was way beyond my reading level at the time, both in length and reading difficulty, but I did, and I read it all the way through. I think I was just at that age where I thought A) if it has a dog ...more
C C
Sep 15, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Humanoids
Matthew's review of "The Pearl" inspired me to add "Sounder" to my list. When I was a kid, I couldn't make it one sentence past Sounder's death because I was too busying crying hysterically and wiping blubber off the text. Only later when I taught sixth grade reading at IS 292 did I complete the novel. Turns out, it's not only a brilliantly moving book, but a fascinating reworking of the story of Odysseus' dog, Argus. As the book progresses it becomes more or less a sentimental tale about a poor ...more
Dawn
Apr 02, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Another re-read of a childhood favorite. I was immediately struck by the excellent writing. And then I was amazed at how differently it reads now. As a child, it was a story about a boy and a dog. As an adult, it's about the racist treatment of poor black sharecroppers in the South. Regardless - it was a great read then and it's a great read now.
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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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As dedicated readers already know, some of the best and most innovative stories on the shelves come from the constantly evolving realm of young ad...
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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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“I have often heard it said that cowardice is the mother of cruelty, and I have found by experience that malicious and inhuman animosity and fierceness are usually accompanied by weakness. Wolves and filthy bears, and all the baser beasts, fall upon the dying.” 1 likes
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