Module 3: Newberry/Printz/Coretta Scott King/Pura Belpre Winners/SLIS 5420
Sawyer, Ruth. (1936). Roller Skates. New York: Puffin Books.
Lucinda’s society parents must go abroad due to her mother’s health. Lucinda is the youngest child and the last one living at home. She narrowly escapes having to go live with an overbearing aunt. Instead, her parents have her stay with two childless sisters in a rooming house. Lucinda experiences a year on roller skates while staying with the ladies – skating about the neighborhood and having adventures with her new friends. She meets an intriguing cast of characters, tastes independence, witnesses injustice, and has her eyes opened to a world that is not always what it seems. In New York in the late 1890’s, a girl like Lucinda can roller skate all over the neighborhood and get to know her neighbors without much fear, but not without learning some difficult lessons about people and life. Sawyer’s coming of age tale of the unique and precocious Lucinda is both joyful and heartbreaking.
“I just finished a wonderful old one: Roller Skates by Ruth Sawyer. Even 70 years ago kids’ authors were tackling some big issues – an unhappy marriage, a murder, bullying, the death of a child, a child’s profane outburst, poverty – all handled with grace and style.”
Terrell. (2007). Review of Roller Skates. The Newbery Project. Retrieved from http://www.newberyproject.blogspot.com
This book could be used to talk about differences and similarities for children today. How has society changed from how it is portrayed in the book? What has stayed the same for children? What makes the book interesting for children today? What makes it not interesting? Reading this book to children during reading time in class could open up some interesting conversations about how children can related to an “old fashioned”book that speaks to so many aspects of growing up in any era.
Newberry Award, 1937