My big inspiration to get back to blogging was Amy’s “Newbery Through the Decades Challenge” @ Hope is the Word. I love reading Newbery award winners and I hope to someday be able to say that I have read every Newbery award winner. Given that I had been having a hard time deciding on books for Miss M and I to read together, the idea of reading one or more Newbery books each month this year sounded like a great idea. Both honor books and award winners are eligible for each month’s challenge.
The first book we read for the challenge (back in January…better late than never to blog about it, right?) was Downright Dencey by Caroline Snedeker, a 1928 honor book. While I am aiming to read mostly award winners for the challenge, none of the winners from the 1920s struck me as books I wanted to read with my daughter right now. A couple sounded like they might be of interest to the boys, we’ve already read Gay-Neck, Story of a Pigeon, and I’m saving Trumpeter of Krakow for when we reach the appropriate time in our history studies. That left the honor books to look through, and I chose this one because M often likes books featuring girls about her age.
Downright Dencey is set in the Nantuckt island Quaker community soon after the War of 1812. Dionis, or Dencey as she is often called, is a fairly spirited girl who, in a moment of rash anger, throws a stone at a boy who is calling her offensive names. She feels she must seek this boy’s forgiveness, and in her attempt to do so, she gives away a precious books and promises to teach this outcast boy to read. Dencey must be secretive to fufill her promise since her mother would never permit her to spend time with this boy, and she finds herself facing a battle within as she struggles between keeping her promise to the boy and feeling guilt at the lying and deceitful behavior she has to undertake to keep the promise.
While I felt like this book was a bit of a slow starter, the action picks up as the story progresses. Dencey faces a number of minor hardships and adventures, and gets in trouble for impulsive behavior and bad choices in a way that reminds me just a bit of Anne in Anne of Green Gables. Quaker religious beliefs figure prominently into the story. I found it interesting to see how the beliefs of Dencey and her family share some similarities to beliefs I hold, while other beliefs are unique and almost puzzling.
Miss M gives this book a “thumbs up” as well. Even when I almost thought about giving up on it a couple chapters in, she assured me she wasn’t bored and enjoyed the book all the way through.