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Saturday, January 19th, 2008
8:52p - The Windy Hill (Newbery Honor Book, 1922)
The new Newbery and Caldecott winners were recently awarded by the American Libraries Association, and it seems only fitting to celebrate by announcing an on-line edition of one of the earliest Newbery honor books:

"The Windy Hill"
by Cornelia Meigs (1884-1973)
New York: The MacMillan Company, c1921.
A Newbery Honor Book, 1922.

Three of Cornelia Meigs' books were chosen as Newbery honor books: "The Windy Hill" (c1921), "Clearing Weather" (c1928), and "Swift Rivers" (c1932). Meigs finally won the Newbery Medal for her biography of Louisa May Alcott, "Invincible Louisa" (c1933). Her books are still worth reading. Meigs makes American history vivid and personal. On the back of a dust jacket, she describes the childhood that laid the basis for her storytelling skills.

"My father was an alluring story teller and had a great store of tales to hand on to his children. His father and grandfather before him had evidently been possessed of the same art and had thus kept vividly alive the stories of a remote past. All of us have heard our elders discuss the Civil War until we have learned much of the events and atmosphere of that time. But in our house the War of 1812 was just as familiar, the difficulties with the Barbary Pirates were almost as well known: while my father knew tales, heard only at second or third hand, which went all the way back to the Revolution. ... We lived, moreover, in the comparatively new West, where the Indians had disappeared only a generation ago and where a nice old lady, who was our neighbor, had made the overland trip to California during the gold rush and could tell us endlessly of her adventures by the way. Is it any great wonder that the history of our country became for me personal and fascinating record about which I could never hear and study enough! ... Such was the background of my early years, out of which all my stories must have come."

In "The Windy Hill", two teenagers have come to visit an uncle, who is troubled and upset. A neighbor tells Oliver and Janet stories that help them to understand the historical background underlying the present conflict in their family. These family stories also help Oliver to understand his own internal experience. The stubborn pride and impulsiveness of his ancestors exist in him as well, and by the end of the book, Oliver sees their consequences a little more clearly, and achieves greater self-control. He begins to understand that the first unwitting step down a road may take someone far from where they meant to go -- that, as Meigs points out, "a person thinks it a little thing when he first confuses right with wrong". Kindness, consideration for others, and acting on behalf of the community, are virtues that Meigs values, and in her stories, meanness and dishonesty eventually lead to their own downfall.

"The Windy Hill" was published in 1921, so its copyright has expired. Between 1923 and 1963, authors had to explicitly renew the copyright of each book to extend their copyrights to the fullest possible term. Since the 1964 Newberys were awarded to books published in 1963, they were subject to the explicit renewal requirement. After 1963, copyrights renewals occurred automatically.

I was curious enough to look up the copyright renewals of the Newbery Honor and Medal books published between 1923 and 1963, in Stanford University's copyright renewals database ( http://collections.stanford.edu/copyrightrenewals/ ) and in the United States Copyright Office's database ( http://cocatalog.loc.gov ).

I was excited to find that more than a dozen post-1923 Newbery Honor Books, and two post-1923 Newbery medalists, appear not to have been renewed. Assuming that there aren't any errors, in the databases, or in my searches of them, it should be legal to put the following books online. (It's always good to double-check: I found two renewals which did not appear in the Stanford database, when I double-checked it against the print version :-) Eleven of the books are by women, five by men. I would be happy to give the books by women a home at the Celebration, if anyone wants to work on them.

* 1964 Medal Winner: It's Like This, Cat (c1963) by Emily Neville (Harper)

* 1952 Honor Book:
o The Defender by Nicholas Kalashnikoff (Scribner)

* 1950 Honor Book:
o The Blue Cat of Castle Town by Catherine Coblentz (Longmans)

* 1949 Honor Book:
o My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett (Random House)

* 1948 Honor Book:
o The Quaint and Curious Quest of Johnny Longfoot by Catherine Besterman (Bobbs-Merrill)

* 1947 Honor Book:
o The Heavenly Tenants by William Maxwell (Harper)

* 1940 Honor Book:
o Runner of the Mountain Tops: The Life of Louis Agassiz by Mabel Louise Robinson (Random House)

* 1935 Honor Book:
o Day On Skates: The Story of a Dutch Picnic by Hilda Von Stockum (Harper)

* 1934 Honor Books:
o New Land by Sarah Schmidt (McBride)
o Big Tree of Bunlahy: Stories of My Own Countryside by Padraic Colum (Macmillan)

* 1931 Honor Book:
o Spice and the Devil's Cave by Agnes Hewes (Knopf)

* 1930 Honor Book:
o Jumping-Off Place by Marion Hurd McNeely (Longmans)

* 1929 Honor Books:
o Tod of the Fens by Elinor Whitney (Macmillan)

* 1926 Honor Book:
o The Voyagers: Being Legends and Romances of Atlantic Discovery by Padraic Colum (Macmillan)

* 1925 Honor Book:
o The Dream Coach (1924) by Anne Parrish (Macmillan), illustrated by Dillwyn Parrish

* 1924 Medal Winner: The Dark Frigate by Charles Hawes (Little, Brown)
[the original edition was not renewed, but there are renewal records for later editions which would apply to new materials/illustrations ]

Best wishes to everyone in 2008! Mary

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