15 April 2014

Shiloh: 1992 Newbery Award Winner

The beginning of March 2014 I started a new undertaking: reading every single Newbery Medal Winner book. A number of them I have read in the past, but I am reading them with fresh eyes,and reviewing them for others. I am not reading them in order, as some will require some effort on my part to find them all.  Want to keep track of which books I read?  Check them out at Confessions of a Wannabe Reader!

Cover of book - used for identification purposes only under the fair use clause
Marty Preston: Determined to Do Right

"I’m thinking how nothing is as simple as you guess-not right or wrong, not Judd Travers, not even me or this dog I got here."

Marty Preston lives in the hills of Friendly, West Virginia.  At eleven, he wishes for a dog of his own, but there is little money for the family, and no money to support any pets.  While roaming the woods one day, he comes across a scared and abused beagle.  When he discovers that the dog belongs to his neighbor, Judd Travers, who is known to be an angry man, he decides to hide the dog, whom he names Shiloh, to protect him from Judd.   In doing so, he has to keep Shiloh a secret from his family, and when the secret starts to become to hard for him to handle, he finds that he's placing not only Shiloh's life in danger of exposure to Judd's anger, but his family as well.

Shiloh was written by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor.  I read it as a preteen and enjoyed it.  Rereading it again was like rediscovering a sliver of my childhood.  The story is bittersweet at times, and does have a happy ending, as well as a few sequels.  While I haven't read the sequels, I did enjoy this book as a child, and I enjoyed it again having re-read it as an adult.

The story is a coming-of-age novel, as Marty must battle with morals in his plight to do what is right.  Should he save Shiloh, or give Judd back what is legally his?  He wrestles with things that aren't black and white, and grows in maturity as a result.  Marty also learns that sometimes growing up is hard, for there isn't always an answer that will make everyone happy.  He also learns that not every adult will stay true to their word, and that the innocence of the world masks some of the horrors of it.

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