Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Hitty: Her First Hundred Years, by Rachel Field

I just finished Hitty: Her First Hundred Years. By Rachel Field, this book won the Newbery in 1930. I recently bought a withdrawn copy at a library sale, and finally read it. I'm interested in reading the Newbery winners I haven't read, but honestly this didn't look like the most exciting book to me, so it took me a while to get to it. But once I did, it went fast. It's pretty engrossing, though it doesn't sound like it would be: Hitty is a doll, and this book follows her through the first hundred years of her life. She starts in Maine, where she is crafted out of mountain-ash by an Old Peddler--a small piece of wood he'd brought with him from home, from Ireland, because "A piece of mountain-ash wood is a good thing to keep close at hand, for it brings luck besides having power against witchcraft and evil." But when he shows up at the Preble's doorstep, it's cold, getting toward winter, and Phoebe's father is off on a voyage at sea, so the Old Peddler ends up staying the winter with Phoebe, her mother, and Andy the hired boy, and at some point during that long winter, the Old Peddler makes the mountain-ash into a doll and gives it to Phoebe Preble. Phoebe treasures Hitty, whose name is helpfully stitched onto her camisole, so she keeps her name through the years. Anyway Phoebe treasures Hitty, but then she and her mother (and Hitty, of course!) end up going--a bit inexplicably--to sea with her father, and Phoebe has adventures in the South Seas. From there, Hitty ends up in India, the doll of a little missionary girl, and from there, she goes back to the U.S., to Philadelphia this time. Etcetera. Eventually she becomes an antique, but first she is a special doll for a lot of little girls.

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