I saw this on the dollar rack at the Strand, remembered reading it something in the vicinity of 20 years ago, and picked it up Hey, it won the Newbery Medal in 1937 it must be of at least reasonable quality Fine Then I reread it.In the broadest sense, the story goes 10 year old Lucinda makes friends everywhere, often while roller skating, in the NYC of 189 This seems fine on the surface but then you get past the surface and find the endemic racism I say endemic purposefully this is not at all the racism of the current US For example, there are approximately zero black people depicted in the book the only instance I could find was a backhanded line in blackface from an undescribed doorman I don t know about you, but I don t for one second believe there were zero black people living and working in NYC at the end of the 19th century That s offensive enough as it is, but as the book progresses, and Lucinda makes friends among those people clearly not of her class, we start going back to previous instances of American racism Key immigrant populations from the second half of the 19th century Irish, Italians, and inspecific Slavs who I suspect are supposed to be Jews, although maybe they re supposed to be Russian, or both who can say are brought in, depicted as friendly but uneducated and low class While Lucinda makes friends with them, there s definitely this strange jolly faced Other quality to all the so called characterization Then Lucinda meets a woman Chinese Japanese who knows who is depicted in this completely bizarre and not at all okay Asian exoticism sort of way She s married to someone who is clearly depicted as Jewish, very jealous possessive, and remarkably fetishistic As an adult, I suspect this to be a mail order bride situation, although it s never clearly stated So Lucinda of course makes friends with her Then one day she talks back in school and is sent home You d expect this sort of thing in this type of book, right Yes So she decides to go see her wonderful Asian friend spoiler alert and suddenly finds her murdered Seriously With a ceremonial dagger that was previously hanging on the wall WHAT She of course finds her Other friends in the building the super and his wife and they say, Lucinda, you can t be caught up in this Did anyone see you I ll take you home You were never here The maid will find her soon enough Again WHAT WHAT.Then the plot never, ever comes back around to this at all It s over While death can have a place in a book like this for instance, a different friend of hers dies of Victorian novel disease, i.e diphtheria plus poverty, later in the book the whole exoticist murder depiction really cannot I don t even know what else to say I mean, there are other problems the first chapter frame is unnecessary the story grinds to a very awkward halt at the end of Lucinda s year But these issues are nothing compared to the completely out of place, racist, and anti semitic murder situation There is no way I would give this book to any kid at this point in time I don t know if I can even thoroughly parse it myself Here s what I think it s probably horribly accurate to the attitude of the time It did get the Newbery Medal in 1937 This is not exactly the high point for tolerance in American or any other western society The attitudes may be exaggerated I d think that by 1937, a full 74 year lifetime after the NY draft riots of 1863, issues of anti European racism were at least tapering off Nowadays, certainly, I can t imagine people tolerating anti Irish or anti Italian sentiment the most you see is St Patrick s day green beer, the interior decor of Bennigan s, and episodes of the Jersey Shore But a book written in the mid 30s, depicting attitudes in the 1890s I think it s accurate This book is a throwback to a different time, with a different set of tolerated prejudices, and while as with an awful lot of the books I ve been reading lately it s of use as a historical document, it s not at all a healthy mindset to propagate now. The plot revolves around ten year old rich kid Lucinda Wyman who becomes a temporary orphan her parents have had to travel to Italy for a year for her mother s health During that year of being an orphan she finds a new sense of freedom as she is now able to skate around New York as she likes During her skating time, she goes about meeting and making friends with an interesting bunch of people, all from a very different social station a rag and bone man, a landlady, rich Asian lady who could be a mail order bride but we don t know for sure , a fruit vendor and his family, a struggling musician and his family, a family of traveling actors, a journalist, police officers, and a carriage driver Essentially working class people who she may not have possibly even met had she been living with her family She is ever willing to help them and bring them happiness in whatever little way she can as are they for her and soon finds herself loved and appreciated much than she is by her family possibly than her parents as they find her cold While the book is essentially Lucinda s little adventures with her new friends, it also showcases how the less privileged lived in the latter half of the 19th century struggling to make ends meet, losing out on life s little pleasures, and trying to escape death which rears its ugly head every so often in many forms, a battle which they don t always win thus making it not entirely a light hearted children s book.I have mixed feelings about the main character What I like about Lucinda is that while she is a good hearted and helpful girl, she is also mischievous and not the kind who does what she s told all the time She also has a rather sharp tongue and is not much afraid of saying what she feels ending up in trouble quite often as a result However, she is a rather na ve girl who doesn t quite understand that not all problems are easy to solve, and that life can be hard for people even though hers is not She gets into all kinds of situations where she could learn valuable life lessons.Now to move into what I didn t like about this book As a reader, I was left with a sense that whatever lesson that she could have learned were pushed to the side and didn t really sink in for her It s honestly a little odd since there was death of people she knew occurring than once in the end but it truly felt like she didn t let it fully sink in even later on in the year I liked how she was a bit na ve though since it led to here being willing to throw herself into whatever tickled her fancy She may come off a bit self absorbed but she s a rich 10 year old girl whose parents aren t around It s kind of expected to happen.Other issues I have with this book have to be the beginning and ending Truth be told, I have no idea what the purpose of the first chapter is At first, I thought we were supposed to be a friend or relative of Lucinda as we see her years later from when most of the book takes place She wants to talk about the past but we don t seem to remember it and are embarrassed She makes us feel guilty until we remember that we have a journal during that time period After Lucinda prompts us to read it, we start the story This scene is confusing because the only person who keeps a journal during the stories is Lucinda and she isn t sharing it for anyone but herself and maybe her mother So how would we know all of her inner thoughts Why do we see snippets of Lucinda s journal but not the other person s journal It is how the story started after all Also, who is this person in the first chapter We re never told so it s still an unsolved mystery This was incredibly confusing to me The ending was a little better than the beginning, in my opinion, but not by much as the author seemed to be in a hurry to wrap up the story One example of this hurriedness is the sudden dissolving of Tony and her friendship view spoiler It suddenly ended because he wanted to be alone with her instead of having to have a chaperone The last moment of their friendship is that he scowls at her and she tells him she s leaving after they mind his fruit stand What kind of an ending is that I know they re of different social classes, but there was a chance for the subject to be talked about by kids who didn t fully understand the situation Sure it might have been clumsy since it s a tough subject to talk about for kids but any attempt would have been appreciated hide spoiler When ten year old Lucinda Wyman becomes a temporary orphan her parents have had to travel to Italy for a year for her mother s health , she finds a new sense of freedom Now able to skate around New York as she likes, she goes about meeting and making friends with an interesting bunch of people, all from a very different social station a rag and bone man, a fruit vendor, a musician, actors, and a journalist among them , people who she may not have possibly even met had she been living with her family She is ever willing to help them and bring them happiness in whatever little way she can as are they and soon finds herself loved and appreciated much than she is by her family other than her parents, I mean What one likes about Lucinda is that while she is a good hearted and helpful girl, she is also mischievous and not the kind who does what she s told all the time She also has a rather sharp tongue and is not much afraid of saying what she feels ending up in trouble quite often as a result While the book is essentially Lucinda s little adventures with her new friends, it also showcases how the less privileged lived in the latter half of the 19th century struggling to make ends meet, losing out on life s little pleasures, and trying to escape death which rears its ugly head every so often in many forms, a battle which they don t always win thus making it not entirely a light hearted children s book. I d been looking forward to this, since I remembered it being a childhood favorite of Kathleen s It was an enjoyable read, but I think it s one of the few Newberys that I feel like I would have enjoyed if I d read it first as a child As an adult some of it seems weird I kept wondering if there was another book that came before, or something, because I felt like I was missing some information that the author thought I would have like stuff about Lucinda s family And the weird disjointedness of some of it made me wonder if it was memoir Wikipedia seems to confirm that since in real life, everything doesn t make sense I mean, that whole thing with the murder was just sort of bizarre I thought the other sad episode was handled really well The book also seemed really old fashioned to me if I hadn t known, I would have thought it was written earlier in the 20th century, like Understood Betsy or Patty Fairfield.Good, yes, but not a favorite. Reading Grade 4th 6thCleanliness Attitudes Disobedience 10 Incident Lucinda mutinied against her parent s wishes for her to stay with her Aunt Emily She said she wouldn t go and would run away if they sent her there Her parents send her to stay with her teacher instead Lucinda writes I think Aunt Emily s bound to stir up Heaven when she gets there Maybe she won t ever get there That will be a joke on Aunt Emily Lucinda writes Aunt Emily had to stir things up because I wasn t in her Sunday School She ll keep it up until mama comes home but I m not going to weaken I was very polite about it, outside but inside I boiled There is an entire scene where Aunt Emily and Lucinda fight it lasts several pages Lucinda is disrespectful, rude, stubborn and disobedient I know I don t sew nicely I ll never, never sew nicely I wish I was in heaven and you and your everlasting sewing in hell, Aunt Emily In the end, her uncle steps in and takes her out of the room to read Shakespeare with her instead She is not remorseful and Being Lucinda, could not manage so much humility to apologize Later, she makes a laughing remark about the situation Then temper would get her she would say those things forbidden a young Wyman such as Darn it, and H ll, and Jumping Jehoshaphat Lucinda is very happy when she doesn t have to tithe but works a deal with the Sexton Lucinda sings a vulgar song about a drunk butler Her uncle asks her to never sing it again She protests, saying it s elegant Lucinda goes to watch a play at a theater that isn t respectable She does not tell her aunt and thoroughly enjoyed herself When a little friend is sick, Lucinda does not want to leave her side though her teacher asks that she go get some sleep She almost had a tantrum She refuses, saying she won t go The doctors says she can stay I didn t know heaven was so sure, Lucinda smiled impishly Conversation Topics 5 Incidents Mentions a tobacco shop and Lucinda is shocked at seeing a woman smoking Mentions wine Lucinda visits and makes friends with a foreign lady It is not made clear whether she is a whore or having an affair but something is going on Her husband barges into the apartment one day, about to start a fight when he notices Lucinda you get the impression he s drunk Later, Lucinda walks into her friend s apartment only to find the woman stabbed to death in the back She runs for the landlord and he spares her having to be involved in any police investigations, telling her she must never tell a soul what she saw or where she was that day Mentions St Nicholas When a little girl dies, a doctor talks about the Esquimo s belief that when a person dies their soul becomes a white gull This is discussed and perhaps believed by the little girl when later she sees a white gull.Parent TakeawayFor having been written in 1936, this was a shocking book The main character is persistently rebellious, always gets her own way and is never remorseful She does everything that a girl of her time wouldn t and shouldn t do which comes across as a very strong message from the author There is language and even a murder scene.For a full cleanliness report, which includes Children s Bad Words, Violence, Romance Related and Religious Supernatural, visit my website I have hundreds of other detailed reports too, and I also have Clean Guides downloadable PDFs which enable you to clean up your book before reading it Visit my website The Book Radar. A good book is a good book Doesn t matter who the intended audience is I read this as part of our Read the Newberys Project up to 1937 now , and wasn t disappointed at all In fact, it was a great book to follow The Story of Edgar Sawtelle , which I was thoroughly annoyed with It s just fascinating to me how a good book draws me in, and the target age is totally meaningless.It s interesting to me that in the Newbery lexicon, this follows Caddie Woodlawn and Invincible Louisa so closely It s as if the Newbury committee knew they needed to get some girl books out there Not that this one is girlie at all, but Lucinda as the primary character is well, obviously a girl It s a charming book about a 10 year old girl whose parents go to Europe for a year for the mom s health She s the youngest in the family with 3 much older brothers, and we really don t know much about the family until the very end The family is superfluous though they re only in the story to be absent, because this is the year of her freedom She considers herself in an orphanage, and spends the whole year doing things her mom, and certainly Great Aunt Emily, wouldn t have approved of She makes friends with the family who runs a fruitstand, a homeless person or 2 , the Central Park policeman and later bribes him w candy , a hansom cab driver and his wife , theatre people, and It s fab.One of the reasons I like Lucinda so much is she and I are kindred spirits Bonus I never heard anyone describe it this way before, but it s me When Lucinda first meets Tony at the fruitstand, some thugs have just stolen some fruit from him In helping to pick it up I call that mean Two against one and stealing, I call that mean Jumping Jupiter, I wish Patrolman M Gonegal had this beat He d lick em good Lucinda was using her best street vernacular Like Nature in Thanatopsis she spoke a various language and used it unfailingly.You can t read this book and miss how roller skates get out wild energy, allow Lucinda freedom, and I loved her roller skate theology Isn t it elegant not to have tantrums any I guess half of it is because you don t expect them and the other half is roller skates They use up a lot of energy and iron out a lot of feelings they ought to be called the mother s friend I like that there are some subtle things in this book that would speak to a young girl s heart when reading this When Lucinda is asked to be a bridesmaid in a wedding, she asks the bride why she d pick her because she s homely as two toads, and the other girls are so pretty The bride says, You ll look perfectly elegant too, Lucinda You re so alive and interesting don t you think that s better than just being pretty I like that There s I could say about this charming book it really did enchant me, and there are also some heavy parts in it But I ll leave it at a very high 4 stars wish there were halves to give , and recommend it to pretty much anyone. This was the 1937 Newbery Medal winner and it must have been a slow year for children s books being published The book had potential but was boring The main character is your typical precocious tomboy but she had no endearing qualities to make me really like her. I Tell You I Won T Go To Aunt Emily S I Ll Run Away If You Send Me There So Says Ten Year Old Lucinda To Her Parents As They Are Leaving On A Yearlong Trip To Italy Lucinda Wants To Stay With Miss Peters And Miss Nettie, Where She Feels She Will Be Free For Once, Her Parents Do Not Let Aunt Emily Interfere, And Lucinda S Exciting Year Begins In New York City In , A Little Girl Could Strap On Her Roller Skates And Roam The City Lucinda Makes The Most Of Her Freedom And Befriends The Irish Cab Driver, The Patrolman In Bryant Park, The Boy At The Fruit Stand, And The Reporter Who Lives In Her Building Lucinda S Irrepressible Spirit Endears Her To Everyone And Her Roller Skates Bring Her To Adventures On Every Corner Of Old New York This is a nice, fairly uneventful story about a girl, Lucinda, who is left in the city with a teacher while her parents go out of the country for her mother s health She experiences a bit freedom during this time and is allowed to skate pretty much anywhere she wants to She makes friends with people she probably would never have run into before.There is a strange framing device in the beginning that I didn t really get And a murder that was handled in a pretty weird way.Casual racism in the form of using the word colored to describe an African American, and referring to a maid as Black Sarah Published in 1936 and awarded the Newbery for that year. A delightful book, loosely based on the author s childhood As it happens to Lucinda, the main character in the book, Sawyer s parents traveled to Europe leaving her in New York when she was 10 While her parents are away, Lucinda lives with one of her school teachers and gets to know all her neighbours the Italian grocers, the Irish cabby, the Polish musicians Some scenes reminded me of Shirley Temple s Poor Little Rich Girl One of the nicest things in the book is how Lucinda cherishes her favorite books which are also my favorites Nathaniel Hawthorn s Greek myths Tanglewood Tales , George MacDonald The Princess and the Goblin and At the back of North Wind , all of which I have been reading to my son this past year Sans famille , which she translates during French lessons and the joy she experiences when her uncle introduces her to Shakespeare s comedies, both in reading and at the theater A highlight of the book is her performance of As you like it to all of her friends and neighbors using a huge puppet theater I have read comments of readers who find the deaths in the book not appropriate for children, and wonder why it got the Newbery medal Didn t they read Little women when they were young In fact, Lucinda ends the story by realizing how many things about life and death she has learnt that year, precisely because she was not sheltered by her parents.
Ruth Sawyer, was an American storyteller and a writer of fiction and non fiction for children and adults She may be best known as the author of Roller Skates, which won the 1937 Newbery Medal.
- 200 pages
- Roller Skates
- Ruth Sawyer
- 28 February 2017 Ruth Sawyer