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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Secret of the Andes – Part II

I can’t wait to hear what everyone else has to say about the 1953 Newbery Award.  As I talked about in this previous post, over Thanksgiving I read Secret of the Andes and re-read Charlotte’s Web, both with Newbery Criteria in mind, in order to discuss here why Secret of the Andes might have been the winner although Charlotte’s Web has certainly stood the test of time/popularity better. 

The first thing I’ll say is that I can both understand why Secret of the Andes might have been chosen as the winner, and I can also understand why Charlotte’s Web is the more on-going popular book that has become a classic.  And the first thing I thought about, while I was reading these books, was how one being more popular than the other 55 years later does not really necessarily have to do with literary merit.  And how, even at the time, popularity and potential popularity should not and would not have been considered by the committee.  I realized, as I thought about this more, that reading these two books and comparing and discussing them today really just brings up a lot of the issues we’ve already discussed in this blog.  Popularity, and how it does not play into the Newbery Medal, is the first of those issues.

Another issue that I found myself facing was comparing two very different books.  I’ve also talked about that before in this blog – the challenge in comparing a lighter funnier book to heavy historical fiction, for example.  Or a book geared towards a 7 year old to one geared toward a 13 year old.  How does one look at literary excellence in such a diverse set of literature?  This is something I am still working on, and something that I’m sure every committee deals with.  

And there was the extra challenge, with this reading, of comparing a beloved book (both personally and generally in the child lit world) to one with less sentiment surrounding it.   This is something a Newbery Committee doesn’t have to deal with, because they are, of course, reading and comparing only very contemporary books.  But it is, for sure, a similar feeling to when I’m trying to compare a book I loved to a book I didn’t love, without considering my love, or lack of, when I think of its qualities, literarily. 

So, I found Secret of the Andes to be a quite outstanding book.   The language is poetic.  Rich and sometimes heavy, the novel is full of lush descriptions, profound thoughts, and quietly strong characters.  The text of Secret of the Andes is almost entirely the thoughts in Cusi’s head.  There is almost no dialogue, but from Cusi’s private thoughts, we still, as a reader, experience so much.  The details are brilliant, and beautiful.  Cusi’s first experience of the color green (page 36) and his discomfort with it strikes me strongly when I think of the types of details I’m referring too.  In contrast, Charlotte’s Web,  is full of colorful dialogue, bright and humorous characters, and emotional twists and turns that lead a reader down a very specific path.  Both are very well done.  Both are excellent and both pluck the reader out of his or her chair and put them right into the setting of the novel, using very different techniques. 

I thought also about the difference in the authors’ treatments of animals, which play a heavy role in each book.  The llamas in Secret of the Andes are not humanized.  They are almost mystical.  The animals in Charlotte’s Web talk like humans, to each other and to Fern, and they experience human-like emotions and thoughts.  Both work so well, but again, so differently.

I would love to have these two books at my Mock Newbery (or to have been a committee member in 1953) to discuss them and am so excited to have that discussion here. 

I would not go into a discussion without some questions about Secret of the Andes.  One thing I would like to think more about, for example, is how realistic Cusi’s character is.  He has no memory of a life anywhere other than his isolated mountain valley, and has never in his whole life, as he states, "talked with a boy" (page 50).   So are his interactions with others throughout the book at all realistic?  Are his thoughts even realistic when he has only ever known one other person?  The book is mysterious and a bit fantastical.  In the context of the story I did believe in his character.  It was clear he was not like other boys and that he held some greater purpose.  He can speak to llamas, why would he not understand more about life and the world than he should?  What do you think?

And then there’s the obvious, to me at least, use of the term Indians throughout the book.  I wonder what meaning that term had in the early 1950s.  Was it the most appropriate term to use?  If I was reviewing the book now as if it was contemporarily written historical fiction I would likely take issue with this term.  But if I’m looking at the book as though I was a committee member in 1953 I think all I can do is ask if this is a term that native people of Peru would have used at the time.  And is this even relevant when the book is in English and not in either Spanish or the native tongue?  And if not, what did this term mean to people in English, both Americans and Native Americans (and other native peoples) at the time?

It is easy to see why Charlotte’s Web has remained a more popular book.  While being excellent literarily, it is also a charming fun novel that warms the heart.  It is just perfect for a certain age of child with a certain sense of wonder.  It makes a great read-aloud.  It makes a great movie!  Secret of the Andes is for a particular child.  But that doesn’t make it any less special. 

So, these are some of the places my head wandered while reading the books.  Can’t wait to hear what you think.  Please do comment and keep this discussion going. 

Thanks!

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Comments

  1. Wendy says:

    Well, you already know about my issues with the realism of Cusi’s character. I had other issues with the writing, too (the author breaks into travelogue several times, I remember)–to be honest, I simply can’t understand how this book was even considered for the Newbery. It’s interesting to hear what you liked about it; for me, even discounting the Charlotte’s Web issue, this is one of the weakest Newberys.

    Indian or American Indian is the term I use most often for American Native peoples, when I have to be generic, because I’ve found it to be more common and welcomed among the Native people I’ve known, including college professors. So I don’t have any issue with the term itself, but yeah, I don’t know whether it’s appropriate to use about people in Peru. “Indio” is somewhat insulting to indigenous people in Guatemala, I know (indigeno or Maya is preferred, as far as I understand).

    It was very hard to read Charlotte’s Web with fresh eyes, even though it isn’t a particular favorite of mine. But I think I can see that the committee might have thought it too arch, too cute, too pat, with too many jokes aimed at adults. But unlike in Andes, the writing itself just seems perfect.

    I read three other Honors from that year (haven’t gotten to the fourth yet): Moccasin Trail, which I thought was better-written than Andes, though far from perfect, and much more racist; Bears on Hemlock Mountain, which seemed like an absolutely ordinary easy reader; and Birthdays of Freedom, which I thought dull and old-fashioned even for the times, and didn’t seem to add much to children’s literature. (The Story of Mankind itself was far more engaging and interesting.) It was a VERY weird year for the Newberys.

  2. Leslie says:

    Wendy wrote: “Moccasin Trail, which I thought was better-written than Andes, though far from perfect, and much more racist.” Moccasin Trail is set in 1844. The attitudes it portrays are accurate for the time. Jim, as a Crow, is contemptuous of other tribes – the Diggers, the Umpquas, the Multnomahs, the Molalas – and of the bourgeways, or settlers. Sally and Jonnie consider Indians inferior; “murdering, heathen savages,” even. Good historical fiction doesn’t put late-20th or early-21st century characters in costume and pretend that they fit into the past; it portrays people of the period as they were. McGraw, through Jim, makes the Crow admirable; it’s easy to understand young Dan’l's hero-worship. Her characters are alive; their feelings and relationships are beautifully described. One genuinely cares what happens to them; Jim’s difficult choice makes it hard for me to read the last few chapters of the book.

    McGraw’s language is not as self-consciously, distractingly poetic as that of Ann Nolan Clark, but her descriptions are vivid: “…a little stream running black and wickedly cold through a white world.” “A swirl of mist drifted between them, blurring the trapper’s outlines until he seemed almost to dissolve like a ghost, lacking all solid substance. And a ghost he was, Jim realized slowly – a man whose day was past, whose way of life had vanished, heading back to a world which no longer existed.”

    Sharon wrote, regarding Secret of the Andes: “And then there’s the obvious, to me at least, use of the term Indians throughout the book. I wonder what meaning that term had in the early 1950s.” I was not around in the early 1950′s, but up until quite recently the appropriate Sears subject headings were “Indians of North America,” “Indians of Central America,” “Indians of South America.” Using the term “Indians” I think was quite undertandable and appropriate.

    In any case, Moccasin Trail is far, far better than Secret of the Andes, and far worthier of the Newbery.

    (I looked up some HTML tags, and hope that I got them right).

  3. Leslie says:

    Blast! Clearly, I *didn’t* get them right.

  4. Leslie says:

    I forgot to add that I think Charlotte’s Web is also more Newbery-worthy than Andes. I think it’s rather like the Oscars; very seldom do the judges acknowledge that it requires just as much skill to do lighthearted comedy as it does to do Art.

  5. hope says:

    I would agree with Leslie that the characters in Moccasin Trail are racist, but that the book itself is not. I think that makes it a book that has very high expectations of its readers, and I like that in a Newbery. Readers have to decide for themselves what qualities in the characters are admirable and which are not. In order to give readers that opportunity McGraw has created characters both nuanced and internally consistent. She has also provided a carefully constructed and accurate historical setting.

    But I *still* haven’t read Secret of the Andes, so I can’t comment on whether I think it more or less deserving of the Newbery than Charlotte of MT. At this point, I can only say that Charlotte edges out MT just because it is such a pretty story and Moccasin Trail frequently is not. In spite of its sadness, Charlotte seems a story filled with light, and MT is very dark. I can see why one is read so often in classrooms and the other is not.

  6. Sharon McKellar says:

    i’m going to have to get my hands on mocassin trail and give it a read so I can add even more to the discussion. I do agree completely with Leslie and Wendy that I think Charlotte’s Web was likely not chosen a winner for those exact reasons – too cute, too sweet, too hard to judge against more serious novels. Something worthy of so much more discussion, I think, then we’ve given it on this blog so far, although we have touched upon it here or there. How do we give those books their fair shot and how do we judge that style of writing against other styles?

  7. hope says:

    Sharon, you said,
    “And the first thing I thought about, while I was reading these books, was how one being more popular than the other 55 years later does not really necessarily have to do with literary merit.”
    I think popularity over time might have a great deal to do with literary merit. While some books that have that merit don’t last, I can’t think of any books that “stand the test of time” without it. If you take short cuts in your characterizations by relying on stereotypes or brand-name dropping, then your book gets dated very quickly. On the other hand, White’s careful depictions of Fern and Wilbur and Charlotte seem as fresh today as they did years and years ago. So, I don’t think that its obscurity should count against SotA, but do think Charlotte should get bonus points for aging so well.
    Although, of course, the original committee couldn’t have predicted this.

  8. Leslie says:

    Good point, about enduring popularity.

    I remember when school librarians wouldn’t be caught dead with Nancy Drew books in the collection. And yet those books have been in print, and read, and enjoyed, for over 75 years. I recognize their flaws but nevertheless there is, there has to be, something compelling about them that has led to their enduring popularity. Maybe some of the literary critics should focus a little of their attention on that aspect of books, too. It’s not a crime for a book to be easy to read and popular.

  9. hope says:

    Ack! I take it back, Leslie. Obviously some books with no literary merit last forever!

  10. mindy says:

    I’ll admit I tried to read Secret of the Andes and couldn’t make it past page 30 or so. I did read Moccasin Trail and thought it was wonderful. It’s true that all the characters have their prejudices–against Indians, different Indian tribes, farmers, settlers. That part of it seemed very real but not dated. Pick up any newspaper and you can read about people all over the world with prejudices like that.

    Charlotte’s Web is one of the few books I read as a child and reread as an adult. Adults may see it as cute and sweet, but as I kid I sure didn’t. The ending devastated me. I thought it so unfair–Charlotte shouldn’t have died! Not like that! But even then I caught a glimmer of finding meaning in loss and what real grief must feel like. And it does that while the tone remains hopeful.

    Moccasin Trail deserved its Honor, but Charlotte’s Web should have won.

  11. Leslie says:

    Now, now, Hope. No need to insult Nancy Drew!

    Seriously, what I meant was that reviewers, and Newbery committees, perhaps ought to take a look at whether a book is likely to have enduring popularity. That may involve doing a some sort of analysis that isn’t normally done now. The Nancy Drews do remain popular all these years later, in spite of their literary defects. Why? Maybe figuring it out will require some applied psychology-type stuff. However, I’ve never noticed any reluctance on the part of the LitCrit folks to indulge in psychoanalysis, particularly when they’re saying things like, “Oh, the author may *say* he doesn’t mean X, but clearly he did, *subconsciously*,” which I always think must infuriate the authors in question, unless of course they’re safely dead.

    I’m not saying that the likelihood of enduring popularity should override literary merit, only that it’s something that might be considered.

  12. hope says:

    Maybe “popularity” is a bad word. Some books are tied very tightly to their own time and place, and when that time is gone, so are they. Other books, as old, don’t seem as dated, even if they aren’t “popular” in the sense of flying off the bookshelves. Should the Newbery Committee ask if a book is still going to be readable twenty years from now? I don’t know if that is in any of the guidelines.

  13. mindy says:

    How in the world can anyone know what books will be popular or readable years from now? Those poor committee members. It’s hard enough to compare books like Andes, Charlotte’s Web and Moccasin Trail–all written for such different audiences. Don’t saddle them with trying to see into the future, too.
    Wanted: Newbery committee members. Only psychics need apply.

  14. Leslie says:

    Well, lots of critics are always willing to predict that “this book will be a classic – read for generations!” about so many books!

    Maybe they could do it the other way around – notice which books are full of dated references, slang,etc. For example, Nicholas: a Manhattan Christmas Story, by Anne Carroll Moore, a 1925 Newbery Honor Book, is so full of references back to World War I, and allusions to locations around 1925 Manhattan, that even I, an adult with a background in history, spent a lot of the book feeling that with just one more clue I might actually understand what was going on. Nicholas wears a poilu helmet. I doubt that there were very many children after, say, the 1930′s, who had a clue what that was.

  15. Wendy says:

    I do think Moccasin Trail is a racist book, not just a book with racist characters (I understand the difference very well). I returned the copy to the library so I can’t quote exactly, but let me explain further. I don’t have a problem with having characters display racism in a book if that is accurate for the times; in fact, I prefer it to pretending that people never had those attitudes–I agree with what Leslie says above about that. But Moccasin Trail begins with basically positive and fair portrayals of the Crows, then moves into something more disturbing. The problem isn’t that Sally et al think the Indians are savage heathens; it’s that the book itself says that they were through Jim’s choices at the end. We’re supposed to believe that Jim would reject the helping spirits of the Crows that he has respected for so long, in an extremely disrespectful manner. Jim also accepts that it’s the right thing for the white pioneers to come into Oregon; that it’s going to happen and he needs to be part of it. I’m a native Oregonian, and this is the kind of thing we were all fed as schoolchildren (I always say that Oregonians are second only to Texas in state pride). It’s a progressivist/manifest destiny kind of attitude that was, of course, common when this book was written, and is especially unsurprising from an Oregon author; but looking back from a distance of several decades, I can say without question (on my own part, that is) that Moccasin Trail is a racist book.

    The writing is good, and I agree with the rest of the praise above; Jim’s character is thoroughly developed, and the description of culture shock is perfection. I do think it goes on too long in the middle, though–takes too long to get to its point.

    One of my theories about why there are SO many historical fiction titles among the Newbery winners is that the committees think those books stand a better chance of not seeming dated in the future–and for the most part, they’re probably right.

  16. hope says:

    Wendy,
    We’ve been going around and around (outside this site) about that final decision of Jim’s. It still doesn’t sit comfortably with me, but I don’t agree that Jim thought that it was “right” that the whites were settling Oregon–he saw that it was inevitable. Manifest Destiny, but only because McGraw was writing with the accuracy of 20/20 hindsight. I think she drew that lost world with great sensitivity and I don’t think we were *meant* to be entirely comfortable with Jim’s decision. It’s good that he is home, but he has gained and lost in the process.

  17. hope says:

    I have to add how much I hate it that this site routinely eats half of my comments and makes me retype them three times.

  18. Leslie says:

    Wendy wrote: “The problem isn’t that Sally et al think the Indians are savage heathens; it’s that the book itself says that they were through Jim’s choices at the end. We’re supposed to believe that Jim would reject the helping spirits of the Crows that he has respected for so long, in an extremely disrespectful manner.”

    Jim suddenly realized that his medicine dream was based on the Twenty-Third Psalm. Why wouldn’t he suddenly cease respecting something that to him obviously suddenly seemed a sham, a lie? It appeared to me that he felt revulsion because he decided he had been believing in a shadow of the truth. Why is that any more racist than turning from Christianity was in the first place?

    Wendy again: “Jim also accepts that it’s the right thing for the white pioneers to come into Oregon; that it’s going to happen and he needs to be part of it.”

    I don’t see that he thinks that it’s necessarily right or wrong; just that it’s going to happen, and that it is a strong, irresistible medicine; and that he is a part of it, with his family. Jim recognizes that any group of people who can manage to get wagons down what’s practically a straight-up-and-down cliff is there to stay; nothing will stop them.  And humans are moved by against-the-odds courage; as Jim was by this.”It was an act of chaos and daring, of courage so reckless that it etched itself on Jim’s mind never to be erased.”

    And neither Jim nor his family want him to forget Absaroka and what it had meant to him.

    Hope wrote: “I have to add how much I hate it that this site routinely eats half of my comments and makes me retype them three times.” It would help if there were some way to tell the difference between c and C, w and W, etc. I’ve taken to copying my posts before I submit them, and then repasting them the three or four times it takes me to get the letters right.

  19. Leslie says:

    One thing that drove me nuts about Moccasin Trail, and I’m not even an environmentalist: The complete lack of thought about destroying the things that support your way of life. (Why, yes, Jim, beavers are getting so very rare why don’t you just trap the only one you’ve seen in ages to make *sure* they’re all dead?) You want to pull him and his trapper buddies aside and give them a quick rundown on the facts of life.  “There are boy beavers and there are girl beavers, and they like each other very much and then they have baby beavers.  See, guys, if you want baby beavers that can grow up to be big beavers, we need mommy beavers and daddy beavers.  So, if you kill off all the mommy beavers and daddy beavers, there won’t *be* any beavers anymore, baby or otherwise.” McGraw sort of passes casually over that – you don’t get the idea that she’s thinking about it any more than Jim Keath and Tom Rivers are.

  20. Nina Lindsay says:

    Technical Aside: I find that using quotation marks is one thing that regularly chops off a comment. Hope’s figured out to avoid it by using * instead.

    (Now working on a substantive comment…)

  21. Wendy says:

    Well, the site isn’t accepting my comment. I tried removing all the HTML, but maybe it has spam or offensive words in it. I’m trying to post half of my comment here, and I’ve put the whole thing on my blog, if anyone really wants to read more of my thoughts about the racism of Moccasin Trail, at dympha79.livejournal.com.

    What I’m really curious about is whether any of this affected the Newbery decision that year. Did any of the committee have doubts about the way Indians were portrayed in this book? It’s an odd juxtaposition with Secret of the Andes, which has an altogether admiring tone toward indigenous people. Looking at the list of Newbery winners and honors, I think it’s easy to presume that committee members over the years did value having children develop positive attitudes about people of other races and cultures. There’s definitely the occasional misfire, like Amos Fortune, but in general I think they were trying hard. Or was Moccasin Trail a runner-up only because of issues with the writing? (What I mention above about it being too long in the middle, maybe too obvious, are really the only major flaws–so to speak–I noted.) Or did the committee think that Moccasin Trail was distinguished, but–hard as it is to understand–Secret of the Andes was MORE distinguished? Did Moccasin Trail seem possibly too sophisticated (mirroring discussions going on now about this year’s possible Newberys)? Andes, Charlotte’s Web, and Birthdays of Freedom are squarely middle-grade, after all–I don’t know about Red Sails to Capri, and Hemlock Mountain is even younger.

    I wonder, too, if Charlotte’s Web just seemed ORDINARY to the committee. You have a book set in Peru, a book straddling Indian and white-settler culture, one set in Italy, a philosophical/academic book (and I have no explanation for Hemlock Mountain, does anyone?)–and next to all those, maybe Charlotte’s Web, about an ordinary girl in the modern-day US living on an ordinary farm and going to the ordinary fair, just didn’t seem special enough. *Special* is, of course, not an official criterion, but I think it was an unofficial one, and maybe it still is.

  22. Wendy says:

    Sorry, mistyped the address of my own blog above; the rest of my thoughts on racism in Moccasin Trail are actually at dymphna79.livejournal.com. I figure it’s not exactly germane to this blog anyway; we can argue round and round about racism in the book with our 21st century eyes, but it matters more, in this discussion, how the book might have been viewed in the 1950s, and in comparison to the others.

  23. hope says:

    Wendy,
    You’re quite right. I owe Sharon an apology for hijacking the conversation. I’m very sorry. I don’t have a blog of my own, but will come visit yours to read the rest of your thoughts.

  24. Nina Lindsay says:

    Wendy, I haven’t read Moccassin Trail but find your argument compelling. I think the fact that people today can still make excuses for the racism you point out in it probably suggests that the committee in 1952 was able to do the same. Especially since it ended up with a medal on it.

    And I think you’re on to something with *special*…which can seem to be *distinguished*, no?

  25. Leslie says:

    Sorry, too, Sharon, for hijacking the discussion.

    Regarding Charlotte’s Web – could it be that E. B. White’s writing sounds so effortless (definitely not saying that it *was* effortless, just that it flows so smoothly and is so sort of matter-of-fact about dealing with really quite amazing things, like a spider writing words in her web) – that the Newbery committee of the time rather discounted it, and went with the more obviously poetic language of Andes? So not only the ordinary setting of CW, but also the ordinary language, might have worked against it? (It would be fun to read a rewrite of CW in poetic language, and of Andes in more everyday language!)

  26. Kathleen Armstrong says:

    I’ve been very interested in the comments about Secret of the Andes since this is the first year I have not read it in 24 years. I know that sounds incredible, but it has not left the curriculum until this year, while other books have come and gone. This is one of the most tightly written books I think ever written. There is not a wasted word. Some of you have criticized it’s travelogue feel in parts, but Cusi had never seen these places and we were seeing them through his eyes. There are 4 Keepers in the story and Cusi becomes one of them. One is the Keeper of Knowledge and Wisdom who teaches Cusi his school lessons and life lessons. It is through these Keepers too that he learns about his past. I believe that he came to Chuto as young as two or three and would have little memory of a previous life. Someone on one of these comments said that the landslide was not necessary, but it was. He met his mother at the Ayllu that was destroyed and Cusi needed to know and understand that he couldn’t/wouldn’t see her again. He also met the Keeper of the Memory there. All the Keepers wore golden earplugs to show that they were royalty. Chuto gave his up to Cusi when he took his solemn vow to keep the secret and only train the next keeper and to raise the llamas and decide who received each year’s giving. Oh this book is so rich. I learn something new everytime I read it. I only changed books this year because I felt that today’s students felt that this was more like ancient history even though it is set in the 20th century. The story is about finding family and that families aren’t always what they seem to be. Near the end Cusi says Chuto is Father of his choosing and Chuto calls him son. It’s a beautiful story. Charlotte’s Web is a great story too about friendship and compassion and love, but I think the wise choice was Secret of the Andes.

  27. Sharon McKellar says:

    No worries at all about hijacking the conversation. I’ve really enjoyed reading everyone’s thoughts. This has compelled me to try to get my hands on Moccasin Trail so I can create another space to discuss that more. I’m also really loving the conversation about popularity and enduring popularity and what it might mean and how it might be judged and/or forseen. I think there is a lot more discussion to be had.

    Kathleen – I appreciate your thoughts on the book, as someone who has read and re-read it.

  28. JENNIFER SCHULTZ says:

    Secret of the Andes is beautifully written, and I cannot fault the committee for choosing it. I enjoyed Charlotte’s Web much more so, but that’s not a Newbery criteria.

    I found the interactions between the humans to be the weakest part of CW, particularly when Fern became interested in Henry Fussy.

  29. Ben Murphy says:

    Something I’m surprised hasn’t been touched upon is the influence of Anne Carroll Moore (children’s librarian at the NYPL until 1941) on the Newbery Committee, and her personal vendetta against E.B. White (as detailed in the 7/21/08 New Yorker article “The Lion and the Mouse” by Jill Lepore… easy to find on Google). In 1945 Moore set out on a campaign to make sure “Stuart Little” was never published, and after it was published, that it was banned in as many libraries as possible (and it was, for some time). In January 1946 she also exerted her influence on the Newbery Committee (including Frances Clarke Sayers, her successor at NYPL, and a member of the committee) to make it so “Stuart Little” wasn’t even considered for a Newbery Honor, yet alone the Newbery itself. Six years later, Moore, who still held a crudge against White, said of “Charlotte’s Web” that Fern’s character was “never developed.” It’s quite likely that she still held a great deal of sway in the field in 1952, so it really wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if she had a great deal to do with “Charlotte’s Web” not receiving the Newbery.

  30. Ben Murphy says:

    Just read Part III of this article and the author of it, Nina Lindsay, goes more in depth into Moore’s feelings about Charlotte’s Web.

  31. Joanie says:

    A beloved teacher read Secret of the Andes to our elementary school class every day after lunch. I remember being allowed to slouch, even shut my eyes and escape to my special personally imagined world of the Andes, while Mrs. Warn read to us. She repeated vivid imagery which planted the seeds for later explorations of metaphors and similies. We begged to go to the library to find out more about llamas. I still have a visit to this part of the world on my life list because of the impact this book made. Years later I revisited this story and reread it but the journey did not hold the same magic without Mrs. Warn, perhaps because I was reading through the eyes of an adult with different frame of reference. Readers bring their experiences and affective stance to the process of reading and perhaps the Newberry committee members connected to this book and this shaped their perceptions of the story’s merit.

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