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John Newbery Medal, National Book Award for Children's Books (Hardcover)
Joan Blos books, John Newbery Medal winners, Classical Studies books
A Gathering of Days; A New England Girl's Journal, 1830-32 (1979) is a historical novel by Joan Blos that won the 1980 National Book Award for Children's Books (hardcover) and the 1980 Newbery Medal for excellence in American children's literature.
The book is written in the form of a journal kept by Catherine Hall, a young girl living in a rural village in New England with her widower father and younger sister. The journal details her daily life between the years of 1830 and 1832. Among the events of these two years are several that would have a profound impact on the rest of her life. These include her assistance to an escaped slave, her father's remarriage, and the sudden death of her best friend.
A Gathering of Days Wikipedia
The book begins with a letter, dated Nov. 20, 1899, from the 82-year-old owner of the journal, now Catherine Hall Onesti, to her great-granddaughter, Catherine. The writer tells the recipient about the journal she is sending her, of her own life at age fourteen. Then the journal begins.
Catherine introduces herself as 'aged 13 years, 7 months, 8 days, of Meredith in the state of New Hampshire'. She then goes on the give an almost day-to-day report of the happenings that occur. At various intervals, she also includes quotes from her speller or her school textbook.
Catherine, called Cath by her friends, is thirteen at the start of the book, and has a birthday in May, so for most of the journal she is thirteen. Her best friend is Cassie, who dies during the course of the journal.
Catherine has a younger sister, Matty. Her mother died four years before the journal takes place. Her father remarried in May 1831, and his wife, a widow, brought her own son to live with them, Daniel.
Cassie is Catherine's best friend. She is a year older than Catherine, fourteen, but the girls are the same height. She has three brothers: David Horatio (two years older), Asa Hale (Catherine's age), and William Mason, the baby. In the summer of 1831, Cassie was suddenly struck with a high fever. Her condition worsened over the next nine days, and she died in her sleep on August 20, 1831.
In her 1899 letter to her great-granddaughter, Catherine said of her dear childhood friend, "of all of us, the only one never to grow old."