Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Featured Author: Meindert DeJong

Although Meindert DeJong (1906-1991) lived for most of his life in America, his stories reflect his early years in Holland. Raised in the Calvinst faith, "...he saw religion as a source of strength and character and a base for cultural roots."

The family's move to the United States (they settled in Michigan) was difficult: his father, unable to speak English, could not continue work as architect, his mother and a fourth brother died shortly after the child was born, and Meindert and his brothers, while good students in Holland, were placed in younger grades in U.S. schools. The older brothers eventually quit school to help support the struggling family, but encouraged Meindert to stay in school.

Meindert attended Calvin College and pursued his interest in writing. Before becoming a full time children's writer he worked as a college professor, a gravedigger, a mason, a tiner, a sexton, and a bricklayer.

He won several awards including the Hans Christian Anderson Award, the Newbery Award (and an honor), and a National Book Award. His children's titles include:
Wheel on the School (Newbery Award, 1955). The people in a little town in Holland try to bring storks to nest in their village (grades 4+).

Journey from Peppermint Hill (National Book Award for children). How the events of a young boy's journey to visit an aunt affect his return home to his house on Peppermint Street (grades 3-6).

Shadrach. Illustrated by Maurice Sendak (Newbery Honor).The story of Davie and his little black rabbit, Shadrach, told with perceptions and emotions experienced by all children (grades 3-6).

Far Out the Long Canal. A nine-year-old Dutch boy is the last child in his village to learn to skate (grades 3-6).


Living Book Reviews