The other book I finished while I was visiting my parents was by one of those authors, and by that, I mean someone whose name comes up multiple times on my Newbery list (as in, 4 or 5). People like Laura Ingalls Wilder (quite a few ‘Little House’ books won), and E. L. Konigsburg (one of my very favorites, and the only one to win the medal and have an Honor book in the same year), and Meindert De Jong (I want to love him, but…), and, well, Scott O’Dell. Who wrote The Black Pearl, which I finished a few days ago. (Who also wrote Sing Down the Moon, and Island of the Blue Dolphins, and The King’s Fifth.) (I haven’t read the last one yet, by the way, and I remember NOTHING about Island of the Blue Dolphins, which means it’s slated for a reread for the purposes of my project.)
It’s a short book–a hundred pages even, in the edition I read. And it’s simply written. It is, however, a powerfully drawn coming of age story, which succeeds in being compelling and complete, despite the length. From what I have read, Scott O’Dell seems to be partial to coming of age stories involving native peoples and tradition, and I have to say, he does it well. There’s enough melancholy in what he writes that he’s not quite MY thing, but I respect and admire what he does. (I have to say, although The Black Pearl was a very masculine coming of age plot, I found it almost more enjoyable than Sing Down the Moon. I handle personal tragedy better than cultural tragedy. Sometimes.)
Anyway. I find it difficult to try and summarize such a short book–any summary online will give you what I could give you–so here’s my summation: not my thing, but totally worthwhile for all that. Which makes it a perfect example of the personal value of my Newbery project, because I doubt I ever would have read it otherwise.