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Sounder Paperback – December 24, 2002
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William H. Armstrong's Newbery Award-winning novel quickly became a classic as a moving portrayal of resilience and hope in the face of profound human tragedy. Decades later, the bittersweet story still rings true, as strong-spirited individuals continue to battle the evil of prejudice. (Ages 9 to 12) --Emilie Coulter --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
In the Author's Note to the copy of this book that I just read, William Armstrong, who was white, says that he first heard this story from an old black teacher who used to worship at his local church :
It is the black man's story, not mine. It was not from Aesop, the Old Testament, or Homer. It was history--his history.
I don't know whether it is, in fact, a true story, but as Armstrong's own assertion acknowledges, it is the stuff of myth.
Sounder is the loyal coon hunting dog of a family of black sharecroppers. At the heart of the tale is the oldest son in this family, plagued by loneliness, helpless rage, and a burning desire to learn to read. The owner of the land they live on has been careful to space families out, presumably so that they won't band together, so they basically have no neighbors and it is too far for the boy to walk to school. The boy's parents are strong willed, and his mother is deeply religious, but they are very reserved. The boy is very much alone, more so because he can't read, and Sounder is very nearly his best friend. Even this rather isolated world is shattered though when the father is sent to prison for stealing a ham and the men who come to take him away shoot Sounder in the process.
The story of how first Sounder and then the family heal themselves and of how the boy eventually learns to read are really moving. The fact that only Sounder is given a name in the story adds to the mythic quality and the mother's constant singing of "Lonesome Valley" imparts a Biblical touch. It may be too powerful for younger kids, but teens and even adults will love it.
GRADE : A
SOUNDER is the story of a poor African American family in the late 19th century south. Sounder, the family's hunting dog, is responsible for much of the family income: he finds and tracks game that the father can eat and sell. Problems arise when the local white sheriff and his men think the family has become a little too prosperous. An event then happens which becomes a turning point in the oldest boy's life. (The story is told with painful honesty from his point of view.)
Author Armstrong masterfully drops the reader into a different era, an era we would like to forget. It's not a comfortable time and it's not a comfortable story, but it is a powerful one. The story is a simple one, but Armstrong paints on a large canvas, full of description so vivid and true that we feel we're there, walking on the cold ground, smelling the countryside, and even feeling the wetness of the tears and blood.
I believe it's significant that Sounder is the only character named in the book. This is the boy's story, but it could be any boy. He represents a sort of "every man," or "every child," if you will. The boy learns several important lessons along the way, some of them coming from unlikely sources.
SOUNDER is one of those stories that not only entertain children, but teach them valuable lessons in human nature, relationships, and learning. A very, very important book for us all.
116 pages with illustrations
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book, every kid in school should have to read this to understand the life of a black sharecroppers family after the Civil War.Published 7 days ago by Sharon M. Gariano
Sounder is about a boy, his mother, his father, and their dog. They are all African American and Sounder is a Coon hound. They all live in a small cabin in a field area. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
I purchased this because I know it was one of those books I should have read when I was younger yet just didn’t. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Edna V. Ater
Grand-daughter has this book to read on the honors program at school. Loved the story. Will donate to the school libraryPublished 5 months ago by Linda Tingen
For anyone who enjoyed Where the Red Fern Grows this book is for you. I love reading about African American history and the tales of those who lived during the time of slavery, so... Read morePublished 5 months ago by lazer pistoils