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3.96  ·  Rating details ·  26,142 ratings  ·  1,030 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
Paperback, 128 pages
Published December 24th 2002 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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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
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
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
Apr 24, 2009 rated it really liked it
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
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
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.
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
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.
Duffy Pratt
Feb 03, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: classic, childrens
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
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
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.
*Dee's Reading Time Matters
A childhood favorites...
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
Apr 27, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: classics, animals
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
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
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.
May 12, 2016 rated it liked it
My heart always hurts when I read about days long ago and how the world treated people of a different skin color. I'm not sure it isn't so much different today in some parts of our world. It saddens me.....
Apr 27, 2016 added it
7th grade. Wish I'd read this with a little more appreciation but at that age I know I hadn't been exposed to much. I do remember liking this. No rating--read too long ago.
May 01, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: newbery-winners
Newbery Medal Winner--1970

I read this book when I was little, but I didn't remember much about it other than that the characters didn't have names (except Sounder, of course), and that I didn't enjoy it that much. I have a little more appreciation for the subtle narration and the tough subject matter as an adult, but I still didn't love it. Reading the descriptions of Sounder after he is shot is tough, and after the horror in the beginning of the story, things are pretty slow-moving and unintere
Hali Armour
Aug 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: animals
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
Dec 06, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: newbury-award
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
Mar 04, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: ya, newbery-medal
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jul 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite Newbery books. A story I want every child, every adult to read. A father (no proper nouns are ever used except for the name of the dog, Sounder) and his family are hungry. The weather makes hunting impossible. The father makes a decision to steal a ham for his children. But he is soon caught. When the men come to take the father to jail, they take a shot at Sounder and Sounder disappears. The father is sent to jail and then to work on a chain gang. For much of the book, the fa ...more
Dec 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
*listened to the audio book*

This was quite an enjoyable read, sad but enjoyable. It was very beautifully written and the man reading it was perfect for it.
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.
Carol Storm
Feb 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Books that made me cry, here I come!
I don't know how old I was when I read this. I was young enough to be sufficiently shocked at the gore and the injustice. I remember sifting through feelings and questions I had never before felt. And for better or worse I can honestly say this book has had an effect on how I view the world today as an adult. And I forgot all about it until the boy picked up the severed dog ear from the dry earth.
I know there are people who dislike the nameless-ness of the characters but for my part - as a youn
Aug 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
A boy and his dog seek solace in one another during the absense of their father/master.

Set in the Deep South, the story covers racism, injustice and futility.

The story doesn’t cover many events yet the few that do are powerful enough to make a strong and lasting point. Some of the situations make you shake your head at the unnecessary nastiness towards people who deserve better.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes soft stories about hardship and perseverance.

Dec 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book to everyone. The writing immediately dropped me into the main characters experience. (view spoiler) What an excellent bo ...more
Jan 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Sad. :-( But I still liked it, I think. It was well-written. I love the author's note at the beginning.

It feels similar to Where the Red Fern Grows . I may always love that one best, but this was good, too.
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Sounder 2 9 Oct 28, 2015 05:23PM  
SE Reading Buffs 6th: Sounder 3 6 Oct 28, 2015 12:08PM  
What's the Name o...: historical fiction book about a black family, father arrested and tied to wagon [s] 5 23 Nov 27, 2014 08:02AM  
Sad, Happy, Or Both? 7 15 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.
“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.”
“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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