Newbery Books discussion

2008 Book of the Month > The Bronze Bow

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message 1: by Kristine (new)

Kristine (kristine_a) | 140 comments Mod
Well, I haven't gotten around to reading this yet -- I will in the next week and will then join/start the discussion . . .

September was busy with my first grader starting school (it's hard to teach a kid how to read!! takes a lot of time :-)

message 2: by Wendy (new)

Wendy | 41 comments Is it that time already? This one was just okay for me. I loved the interactions between Daniel and his sister, but I couldn't empathize with the characters much. I liked this author's other books a lot better.

message 3: by Kristine (new)

Kristine (kristine_a) | 140 comments Mod
I was shocked (Shocked!) that this was a Newbery winner.

First it seems more like adult/YA literature. I guess they didn't have YA category back then? The characters are all old(er) and . . . yeah. Doesn't feel like children's lit.

Second of all, duh - it's Christian literature. This never would have won the award today. I can see great value in Christians reading this one - and I suppose non-Christians could read it but I'm not sure they'd enjoy it. I don't know.

That being said, I personally loved it. Great fictional book about those times and the confusion and angst that reigned. I thought it was a story of forgiveness that holds a lot of power and strength for us to draw on. I also really liked the interactions between the 4 main characters = Daniel, Leah, Peter, & Thacia.

message 4: by Wendy (new)

Wendy | 41 comments The Printz award for YA is fairly new, yes--first awarded in 2000. But I think, personally, that this fits well within the ages for Newbery--I'd say maybe 11-14.

I'm curious why you think that it wouldn't win the award today because it's "Christian". I did think it espoused more religious philosophy than most Newbery books, but my feeling is that kids who weren't super-aware of Christian philosophy would see this purely as an adventure story with the historical Jesus in it. I wouldn't classify it as "Christian literature", myself.

message 5: by Wendy (new)

Wendy | 41 comments (By the way, I think it's pretty funny that I thought Criss Cross was more YA and you thought it was more children's--while you thought this was more YA and I think it's more children's!)

message 6: by Nancy (new)

Nancy | 14 comments I'm Jewish, with a secular upbringing, and read this book when I was in 5th or 6th grade. I found the book was totally accessible. One of the reasons I've always loved historical fiction is that I get introduced to new ideas, movements in thought, philosophy, religion, politics, etc. I understood this book as a work of fiction that revealed a certain perspective on religious and political history during a certain period in time. And I did like the adventure aspect of the story.

message 7: by Kristine (new)

Kristine (kristine_a) | 140 comments Mod
Thanks, Nancy. It's great to get your point of view - I know I love to read Jewish-themed literature -- at least just for opening my eyes and learning about what I am obviously clueless (The Chosen, The Ladies Auxiliary, etc.).

Now that I think about it I can see it from that perspective, but I still don't think the Newbery Committee would consider this one these days. Just my opinion . . .

p.s. Wendy, we are quite the pair! It would be hilarious if we were both on the Newbery Committee. I am beginning to see how hard their job truly is!

message 8: by Wendy (new)

Wendy | 41 comments Do you think there's an anti-Christian bias on the Newbery committee, or something? I'm just trying to understand what you're getting at.

message 9: by Kristine (new)

Kristine (kristine_a) | 140 comments Mod
nope, just think that based on the picks of the past 10 years adventure/religious themed lit is not where it's at for the NM. To me it feels like it's more coming of age or social issue lit (although historical is thrown in there as well). I would categorize this more as adventure/historical/religious.

Also I've been thinking about how I compartmentalize books lately. I remember getting in disputes with my elementary school librarian because she kept trying to stop me from checking out "older books" and my teachers would always come to my rescue. One of the shortcomings of the "AR" system in school is that it doesn't encourage kids to just grab whatever they want to read. Once I was 8 I knew I could read pretty much any word so I went downstairs to my parents bookshelf and decided I'd grab whatever looked good. That summer I ended up reading Roots. I'm glad I didn't pick The Odyssey. I need to keep reminding myself to stop compartmentalizing so much!

message 10: by Dawn (last edited Oct 11, 2008 09:49PM) (new)

Dawn | 66 comments I liked The Bronze Bow a lot as a kid, so I was pleased to find that I still like it as an adult. The author combines adventure with historical fiction and vivid characters to make a great story. This book also resonated with me as a Christian. I thought the book was a bit mystical about Jesus, but maybe that is the way many people then viewed him. I liked the characters and their passion for their beliefs. The book did a good job of portraying their very real challenges while teaching lessons about love, loyalty and forgiveness. It made me wonder if I would have been able to have faith and forgive despite oppression and poverty. I particularly thought the ending where Daniel invites the soldier into his house was powerful. And I want to find joy and beauty in life like Thacia.

Like Kristine, I have long been fascinated by Judaism. I also thought that the book would never be picked as a Newbury today--too religious which is not P.C. But I'm glad to have it in the Newbury "canon." I had thought that E.L. Konigsburg was the only author to have won the award twice, but I see my mistake. I also really liked The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Speare's other Newbury. Are there any other doubles that I'm not aware of?

message 11: by Nancy (new)

Nancy | 14 comments Speare also had an honor book: The Sign of the Beaver. Zilpha Keatley Snyder had three honor books: The Egypt Game, The Witches of Worm, and The Headless Cupid. Laura Ingalls Wilder won honor medals for These Happy Golden Years, Little Town on the Prairie, The Long Winter, By the Shores of Silver Lake, and On the Banks of Plum Creek. Cornelia Meigs won for Invincible Louisa, and honors for Windy Hill, Swift Rivers, and Clearing Weather. Cynthia Voigt won for Dicey's Song, and honors for A Solitary Blue. Christopher Paul Curtis won for Bud, Not Buddy, and honors for Elijah of Buxton, and The Watsons Go to Birmingham: 1963. Jacqueline Woodson has honors for Feathers, and Show Way. Russell Freedman won for Lincoln: A Photobiography, and has honors for The Voice that Challenged a Nation: Marian Anderson and the Struggle for Equal Rights, Eleanor Roosevelt: A Life of Discovery, The Wright Brothers: How They Invented the Airplane. Other multiple winners that come to mind are Jim Murphy, Avi, Laurence Yep, Rylant, Seredy, Colum, and probably many more.

message 12: by Dawn (new)

Dawn | 66 comments I was asking only about the actual Newbury Medal, but thanks for the lists of honor books. I like reading them, too. They are usually very good.

message 13: by Kathy (new)

Kathy | 60 comments I looked forward to this book as I had previously read praise of it. So I was disappointed that it took me awhile to get into it. When Daniel left Rosh's robber band and began to care for his sister, I felt more sympathy towards him. I appreciate Speare's efforts to write an historically accurate novel. Critics have been harsh on her characterization of Jews and, if there were still Romans alive, I imagine they would not like her portrayal of them either. In her Newbery acceptance speech, Speare said. "I would show the change in just one boy who came to know the teacher in Galilee." That I think she accomplished. If you want to read the whole speech and find out why the city of San Rafael, CA banned the book go to

message 14: by Kathy (new)

Kathy | 60 comments Lois Lowry won for The Giver and Number the Stars, Katherine Paterson won for Jacob Have I Loved and Bridge to Terabithia.

message 15: by Wendy (new)

Wendy | 41 comments Going back a bit to respond to Kristine (sorry, I've been away), have you read CRISPIN yet? While it's not as religious as THE BRONZE BOW, it does have quite a lot of religious content in it. To me it seems like--as in every other decade of the award--historical fiction has still been Where It's At for the Newberys. Some of the historicals are still coming of age/social issues books, of course. (Seven of the last ten books have been historical fiction! And DESPEREAUX could be considered historical fiction or could be fantasy, depending on how you look at it. Otherwise, it's just HOLES and LUCKY.) LUCKY has some interesting religious thoughts, as far as "finding your higher power" is concerned, but I wouldn't call it specifically religious.

My guess is that a really religious book would still be able to win if the writing was really good. Unfortunately, most strongly religious modern books I've read (which isn't really very many) haven't been very good.

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