Saturday, January 12, 2008

Joan Blos

A Gathering of Days:
A New England Girl’s Journal, 1830-32

by Joan W. Blos
Recommended Age: 12+

Framed by letters in which a great-grandmother in 1899 hands over her girlish diary to her thirteen-year-old namesake, this 1980 Newbery Medal winner takes the form of the diary of Catherine Hall, a New Hampshire farm girl in a time of simple, hard country life, growing controversy over the issue of slavery, and changes in her circle of family and friends.

During the year and a half or so of the journal, Catherine records a crisis of morals brought about by a runaway slave’s plea for help; the difficult adjustment to having a new stepmother and stepbrother; the grief of losing someone near and dear; and beneath all, the year’s round of farm work, weather, nature, and school. Juvenile romance blooms--and some of the more mature kind, too. Joys and sorrows take their turn. And a clever, observant girl learns about herself, the meaning of right and wrong, trust and acceptance, laughter and tears.

Filled with historical details of home, school, labor, and folklore in the early 19th century, this is also a delicate and gently persuasive story that may win its way into your heart.

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