It seems to me that this challenge just gets better and better! This month I managed three books: two Moffat books, The Middle Moffat and Rufus M., and Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes. I did review The Middle Moffat, but I haven’t had a chance to review Rufus M. or Johnny Tremain. I’ve gone back and forth about whether or not I want to share my thoughts individually about each of the two March books I haven’t reviewed, but I’ve decided to just share them here in this post.
Rufus M. by Eleanor Estes is the third book of four about the Moffats. In many ways it’s just a continuation of the story, only obviously this one focuses on the youngest Moffat, Rufus. I didn’t love this one quite as much as I did The Middle Moffat, but I think this is because I don’t identify quite as much with seven year old Rufus as I do middle child Jane. (For the record, I’m not a middle child–I’m the older of two daughters–but having four children myself I could easily imagine Jane’s thought processes.) Still, though, Rufus M. is entertaining, funny, and endearing as only a book about an innocent seven year old boy can be. Something about this story, set during World War I, is particularly poignant to me: the ever-present war, their lack because of the war, and Rufus’ childish understanding of things. These stories are big on heart, especially if you love stories about closeknit families that don’t have any of the angst that seems to characterize many modern stories. Another thing I loved about this story is the sheer innocence in which Rufus lives: he learns to read during this story; he learns to write during this story; yet he rides all over town by himself. Something about all that is so very appealing to me in our day and age of early academics and ultra-sheltered children. I love my modern conveniences, but sometimes I’d like to live in a bygone era for these reasons alone. I really could go on and on about the Moffats: their invidual personalities; how hard Mama works; the interesting historical commentary; etc. The best thing I can say is this: read them. They don’t quite come up to the Melendys for me, but they’re close. Rufus M. won a 1944 Newbery honor, while The Middle Moffat won an honor the year before. We’ll see tomorrow that Eleanor Estes finally gets her well-deserved Newbery Medal in 1952 with Ginger Pye. Obviously, Eleanor Estes is a not-to-be-missed author! I don’t see how I can’t read The Moffat Museum to finish off the quartet.
Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbes, the 1944 Newbery Medal winner, was our read-aloud for the month. It took us much longer to read it than I expected, mostly because I spent part of the month sick and recuperating. I’m not sure if it’s because we had a difficult and sort of topsy-turvy month or what, but I didn’t personally enjoy this one quite as much as I thought I would. It is a very interesting story, yes, and it’s even suspenseful, despite the fact that we know how the big story ends. I learned a lot about the setting, both the time (American Revolution) and place (Boston). It made me think through some details about the revolution I hadn’t previously stopped to consider before, like the fact that some of the British soldiers actually sided with the Americans, and the fact that the war was actually a slow burn. I just didn’t find Johnny Tremain himself very likable, but I’m not sure I was supposed to. Esther Forbes was a talented author, and the medal is well deserved. I’m glad to have read this one, even if it isn’t my favorite.
How did you fare with the challenge this month? Did you love what you read, or were you indifferent? I’d LOVE to hear about it! Please link to your blog post or share your thoughts in the comments.
Don’t forget to come back tomorrow to find out what’s on tap for the 1950s!