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M.C. Higgins, the Great

3.43  ·  Rating details ·  3,399 Ratings  ·  200 Reviews
Mayo Cornelius Higgins sits on his gleaming, forty-foot steel pole, towering over his home on Sarah's Mountain. Stretched before him are rolling hills and shady valleys. But behind him lie the wounds of strip mining, including a mountain of rubble that may one day fall and bury his home. M.C. dreams of escape for himself and his family. And, one day, atop his pole, he thin ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published May 1st 2006 by Aladdin (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
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
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
Jan 29, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
May 05, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Lars Guthrie
Nov 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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 refuse 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 cas
Sep 05, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: newbery
(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.
Benji Martin
Nov 25, 2015 rated it it was ok
I'm kind of conflicted about this book. I see some good in it, but I really didn't enjoy reading it, especially the first 50 pages or so. As an adult novel, it might have been decent, but I think most kids would have some trouble following the Faulkner-like steam of consciousness writing. The only thing that really makes this book a kid's book is the fact that M.C., our protagonist is a teenager.

M.C.'s guide to getting the girl: First stalk her a little while she's walking by herself through th
Aug 27, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: newbery
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
Oct 29, 2016 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
To sum this book up in one word, I would say, "Confusing." For most of the book, I had no idea what was going on. I didn't really care, either, because I was bored, and the 40' pole was so unrealistic, I didn't even believe it was a real thing. I would not recommend M.C. Higgins, the Great to anyone.
Sep 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Linda by: Goodwill
A YA story written by an esteemed writer who lived about a half an hour from where I live now. A pleasant story about a young boy who has dreams of grandeur sitting a top a 40 foot pole. One summer two visitors intrude and give M.C. thoughts of life away from his mountain. A pleasant read.
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.
Juli Anna
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Generally, this is a really masterful children's novel. Hamilton's prose is impeccable, including her light use of vernacular (which never feels stereotyped or oversimplified). The characterization and development of setting are heartbreakingly specific and precise. Every detail is beautifully rendered, imaginative, and weighty. While I would say this book is rather light on plot, it reads far more "contemporary" than previous Newberys, with a somewhat stream-of-conscious style and a condensatio ...more
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing

Read as part of my ongoing project to read all the Newbery Medal winners. I was 10 when this book won the prize in 1975 so I must have read it at the time, but I have no memory of it. It's a lovely, naturalistic story about a 13yo boy growing up in the hill country near the Ohio River. Clean yet lyrical prose that captures the tension between childhood and adulthood. I savored it.
Feb 13, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: 6th-grade
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Dec 30, 2013 added it
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
Ulrich Krieghund
Feb 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a shame that this book is categorized as juvenile fiction or children's literature, because that means that a great many adults are missing out on a wonderful story. Just because the protagonist is young, I don't believe that automatically classifies a book as young adult. To Kill a Mockingbird is a good example of this.

M.C. Higgins the Great is a Bildungsroman tale where one of the most prominent characters would have to be not only M.C., but the mountain itself. Sarah's Mountain breathes
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
Mar 19, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Adrian Hebard
Jan 23, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I observe from the reviews that a reader either loves or hates this book. I love this book, because I am a huge fan of Toni Morrison and the setting for the book reminds me of Beloved. Toni Morrison writes, of course, for a more mature audience.

What draws me into the tale? There are rich descriptions of characters and the countryside. M.C., Mayo Cornelius, is athletic, often brooding, and adolescent in his responses to different people in the book. Indeed, I could re-read this a couple more time
April Helms
Jun 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
So I should start by saying I listed to this as an audiobook, and I have a terrible attention span when it comes to audiobooks. I know I zoned out for parts of it, but I was getting really tired of skipping back to catch what I missed.

The book takes place over the course of a few days in the life of M.C. Higgins, a boy living in the hills near the Ohio river. Over the course of these few days quite a bit happens. At first I thought the book was going to be about strip mining and the loss of the
Thomas Bell
Well, this book has a lot of high praise. The main story lines are MC's relationships with his father, his friend Ben, a girl he likes named Lurhetta, and himself, and to a lesser extent his mother as well. These are well-made, and there is some real depth to them. I really like the description of the area, the lifestyle they live, the 6-fingered 'whitchies' and peoples fear of them, and the dude that comes around. Good descriptions, good visual.

However, I think the author tries too hard to be d
Welp, this enters that fairly slim group of Newbery winners that I just hated. The characters of M.C., his family members, his friend Ben, and the two newcomers that come to Sarah's Mountain all struck me as unlikable in one way or another, and I found many of their actions and motivations to be fairly incomprehensible and bizarre (remember the time M.C. kisses and then stabs a girl he likes?). I had always incorrectly assumed that this book was about race to at least some degree, but the charac ...more
Viviane Crystal
Feb 14, 2012 rated it really liked it
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
Sep 22, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kidlit, 2014, newberry
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
Ruth E.
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: newbery
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
Deb (Readerbuzz) Nance
Jul 24, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: newbery, kids-1001
‘”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
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
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