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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is one of the best Newbery books I have read.
I have read MCHiggins the Great so many times my copy is falling apart. I've read a lot of Newbery books too, and this is one of the best. In some ways it is the best. Each time I read it, I see more. First the scene is one that will stay with you long after you close the book--the hills of Eastern Kentucky that MC walks, his house, his mountain, the pole he sits on,...
Published on July 26, 1998

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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It Left Me saying - Huh?
M.C. Higgins, the Great- one of the worst-titled books in history. Personally, I expect a LOT out of a Newbery award-winning book- esspecially this one, who made history by not only winning the Newbery medal, but also the Boston Horn/Book Gold award and the National Book award- but this one... whoa, this one is terrible.

It's about Mayo Cornelious Higgins, or...
Published on January 16, 2005


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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is one of the best Newbery books I have read., July 26, 1998
By A Customer
I have read MCHiggins the Great so many times my copy is falling apart. I've read a lot of Newbery books too, and this is one of the best. In some ways it is the best. Each time I read it, I see more. First the scene is one that will stay with you long after you close the book--the hills of Eastern Kentucky that MC walks, his house, his mountain, the pole he sits on, looking out over all these hills. Then the people are unforgettable. MC's best friend, Ben, has the most unique family you will ever meet in fiction, very strange but very loving with magical connections to nature. They are vegetarians, who live on an Appalachian family commune. The mother is a healer. MC's own family includes a mother who could be a famous folksinger if she wanted to leave home, a father who is tied to the hills because his own mother, a ghostly presence in the book, owned the mountain where they lived. She was an ex-slave, and her courage has seeped into MC. He must save his f! amily from a heap of soil that is threatening to bury his home and family, because of stripmining interests in the area, and he does at last find the way to do this. But not before he has a lot of fun chasing a girl who isn't going to be caught, hunting rabbits, swimming, listening to a city "dude" who wants to make his mother a star and imagining what this would be like, visiting his best friend's family, taking care of his spunky and sassy little sister, and sitting on his pole watching the world and trying to find his place in it. This book was written 25 years ago, but it is timeless. It's about teen feelings and finding your identity. It's about father and son conflicts and teen romance. It's about nature and the environment. Most of all, it's about family heritage, and taking a stand for what you believe in. Newbery books are for everyone--people of all ages, colors, regions, genders, cultures. And this is a classic Newbery --it's a rainbow of ideas an! d experiences, with a pot of gold waiting on the last page.
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19 of 24 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not for the Lazy Reader, August 19, 2006
It's obvious from other reviews that people read this book with preconceived notions. Because of the title and the awards, people believe this is going to be one barn-burner of a read.

It is not. Not much happens in the book, at least not physically. The action in the book comes from M.C.'s inner transformation as he becomes aware of a world beyond the insular world of his family, and eventually finds the strength to face life's difficulties and challenge the beliefs of his father.

This book is not for most children, who will likely find it boring, especially if they are used to Harry Potter-type adventures. This book also isn't for readers who are used to stories that tie everything up in a neat, pretty package. The ambiguity of the ending isn't completely satisfying, but it actually isn't that important. What is important is how M.C. has changed. At the end of the book, you know that whatever happens, M.C. is going to be OK.

Throughout the book, M.C. uses the title "M.C. Higgins, the Great" because of his physical abilities; being the only one who could climb the pole, swim across the Ohio River, and swim the lake tunnel. In the end, he lives up to the title because of his newfound inner strength to take action against his fears and make his own way in life.

Other miscellaneous comments:

- The lettuce leaves were for baiting M.C.'s rabbit traps.

- The book really doesn't take off until the beginning of Chapter Seven. Until then, it is merely setting up the characters, the situation, and the surroundings.

- The vernacular takes some getting used to.

- The "reverse" prejudice against the "witchy" Killburns adds an interesting aspect to the story.

- Virginia Hamilton doesn't "pretty up" the story. There are a couple of incidents that are shocking, but ring true, such as the fight between M.C. and Lurhetta, and the killing of the rabbit.

- The pole is a symbol, both of M.C.'s ancestral ties to Sarah's Mountain and of M.C. transcending the limitations of those ties. When M.C. is on his pole, he is above it all.

- Throughout the book, M.C. depends on the "dude" to take his family away from danger. But when the "dude" lets him down, M.C. discovers that he has to take action himself.

This is not an easy book for children to read. But compared to the "candy" of what sometimes passes for children's literature, it is a welcome serving of nutritious food.

----------------------------------------
Michael Mihalik is the author of Debt is Slavery: and 9 Other Things I Wish My Dad Had Taught Me About Money. Learn how to gain control of your finances, pay off your debt, and create financial security!
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16 of 20 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars It Left Me saying - Huh?, January 16, 2005
A Kid's Review
M.C. Higgins, the Great- one of the worst-titled books in history. Personally, I expect a LOT out of a Newbery award-winning book- esspecially this one, who made history by not only winning the Newbery medal, but also the Boston Horn/Book Gold award and the National Book award- but this one... whoa, this one is terrible.

It's about Mayo Cornelious Higgins, or M.C., whose world is changing hugely by the plans for getting lead out of his mountain- Sarah's Mountian- and living with thew fear of the rubbish left by it to collapse on their house. Along with that, he hopes that a person - namely called 'the dude', will take him away from his desolate home to somewhere else. Also with him, another visitor, a mysterious girl, arrives in M.C.'s life, changing his ideas and thoughts of people.

There are a few flaws in this book. First of all, it takes place over the period of - a little over three days. Somehow, I can't think that this book really only described all this change in half of a week. It seems to be months more than days. It just doesn't seem quite real. Also, it ends abruptly after the girl- named Lurhetta Outlaw- leaves Sarah's Mountain. It tells none of M.C.'s family, of their past, and left many unanswered questions. That problem really made me lower my hopes and likes of this book. It tells nothing of the history of M.C.'s grandparents too well, and really differs from Virginia Hamilton's other writing. And the plot of the book was very unclear. Only after I finished the book with my classmates for school did we learn of some intented plots- said in the teacher's manuel.

Personally I think that Miss Hamilton has written better books and that this book was really misjudged as 'a good book.' If you want to read a good Virginia Hamilton book, go read the House of Dies Drear, a book I also read in class but understood fully. It won't leave you wondering like this...thing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Shakeya's Review on M.C. Higgins, March 10, 2003
By 
Shakeya Mcclintock (Mullins,South Carolina) - See all my reviews
I liked the book M.C. Higgins the Great because Virginia Hamilton made the book interesting. M.C. is a very caring person and he is also friendly. The best part in the book is when M.C. tried to help his mother get a job by getting the Dude to record his mothers voice. M.C cares a lot about his family and he is very loving. I really enjoyed the book M.C. Higgins The Great it was a good book.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Did not enjoy this book as a child or an adult, January 18, 2001
By 
ellie (Western Australia) - See all my reviews
As a child I read widely and with great enjoyment. There were two books however that I never managed to get beyond the first fifty pages or so. This was one of them. My parents brought this book for me with love and good intentions, because it had won the Newberry, but I didn't enjoy any facet of it.
I found the prose stilted and unpromising, the topic, interesting enough, was somehow rendered dull beyond belief. Even when there were days when was besides myself with boredom I could not make this book "work" for me. Later, I forced myself to go back to it as a 24-year-old honors student of English, however I am ashamed to say that I still did not manage to reach the conclusion.
I think it's brilliant that this book deals with the history of slavery in the US and the trials of growing up from an Afro-American boy. But Despite these interesting and important facts, the book was to me dreary and incomprehensible. The prose was intolerable in parts...I hated it's style. Now when I look at it (I still have all of my books) I think "Very 70's."
The point is, if you are hard up for cash, but want your child to read more books that aren't by privileged white men, you may want to get this from a library, or at least show it to them in a bookstore before-hand.
For the record, the only other book I own that I did not read in its entirety was the Judy Blume book "Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret" Perhaps the title put me off, but again, I did not enjoy her style.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No pun intended, October 19, 2001
By 
Having to do a report on the novel I decided to turn to the reviews here,for help on how to word my report.While I did encounter encouraging info on the book, as it stands there are more people who blindly criticize the book than respectfully praise it.I think the reason people criticized it so badly is probably because they themselves did not understand the book and its deeper meanings.I'll admit, some of the things in the book I could not comprehend but I guess that is because I am only a child and have not developed in that style of thinking yet. Over all I found the novel to be very accurate in portraying emotions and uniquely written.As for the negative reveiws, don't blame the author nor the "Newberry judges" on why you did not come to appreciate the book.Blame your own lack of understanding and ignorance.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Saving a Wild and Precious Land!, February 14, 2012
By 
M. C. Higgins loves where he lives, Sarah Mountain, a land in Ohio that has belonged to his family for a very long time. He has a huge pole with wheels on which he sits and can see the entire mountain and even beyond to the nearest town. But what he most loves about the mountain are the trees, animals, rivers, everything about nature with its own moods and beauty surpassed by nothing or no one.

His Dad is very harsh with him but it's a loving harshness. But his Dad just doesn't get the message that the strip mining on the mountain is leading to a natural disaster and M.C. doesn't know how to stop it or how to save his family. He hopes maybe the man coming to hear his Mom sing can get them out of here in time but isn't sure about that.

M.C. will then meet a young girl who will awaken a part of him he never knew existed, even giving him new eyes and heart toward his friend, Ben's family, shunned because of their "witchy" powers. Yes, this is a coming of age book but mostly for those young adults (8-12 years recommended) who love the outdoors and want to learn about how being different can be the best and most heartbreaking thing to happen to any human being.

I thought this book was rather drawn out in points but all in all it's a very nice story and worthy of its Newberry Award!
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7 of 10 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Why did this book win the Newbery?, December 19, 2002
By 
This review is from: M.C. Higgins the Great (Hardcover)
As I listened to this book on audio tape I wondered how any child could make it through reading it. The pace is slow, and I didn't find the characters very engaging. M.C. himself wasn't even very likeable. The plot--M.C.'s fear of the slag heap behind the house falling on them--is weak. I suppose there are redeeming qualities--M.C. learning to understand his father and M.C. learning tolerance and respect for the "witchy" people, but you have to slog through a lot of uninteresting pages in the meantime.
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12 of 18 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Consider yourself warned..., July 16, 2006
We tried to like M.C. we really tried. The book has won so many prestigious awards including being the first book in history to win the Newbery, Boston Globe Horn Book Award and the National Children's Book Award in its year. Yet neither my son or I could plow through this one and we are both avid readers. I'm still puzzling over exactly how a forty foot pole that moves with bicycle wheels attached would work. And why did he tie lettuce leaves to his hands to greet the morning? The book is surreal yet Hamilton treats the book like it was realistic fiction so the book can't really be accepted as fantasy, realistic fiction or any other known genre. All I can say is this book winning so many awards compares to those tailors who made the emperor's new clothes being praised for their fashion sense and style.
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8 of 12 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars What an ironic title., February 8, 2006
A Kid's Review
M.C. Higgins the Great, as he is called, is not exactly my definition of great. In fact, there is nothing even remotely great about him. He is a boy who ties lettuce to his wrists and sits on top of a pole. Oh, how absolutely wonderful.

It's truly amazing that this book got published at all, let alone won a Newbery. I can't recall ever reading a book that was worse than this. There is no plot, the characters are all pretty much the same, and just when you think that something might be about to happen, the book is over. Please, for the sake of your sanity, do not subject yourself to the torture that is this book. There are plenty of others that won't bore you to death.
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M.C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton
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