Friday, March 1, 2019

52 Mondays by Anna Ciddor

This book is based on Anna Ciddor's childhood memories. Anna, living in 1960s Australia, borrows a book from the library:

"Hitty, the life and adventures of a wooden doll."

Anna's love of this book and the doll called Hitty drives the plot as she searches every week at a local antique auction house for a doll like Hitty.  I was utterly convinced this was not a real book - but it is! It won the Newbery Medal in 1930. I think the real title might be Hitty, the first hundred years. It is  by Rachel Field. Perhaps in Australia it had a different title.

I think Anna would be thrilled to discover someone produced a sewing pattern for Hitty dolls and that you can even find Pinterest collections about her.

If you have an adult friend who was a child in the 1960s then this book - 52 Mondays would make an excellent gift. I have discovered Anna and I are almost the same age and because this book is based on her own childhood I recognised so many of these:

  • Milk deliveries by horse and cart
  • Birds pecking the tops of the milk to get the cream
  • Vita wheat biscuits with butter and vegemite
  • Deb mashed potato
  • Green grocer shops where your purchases are put into paper bags
  • That same grocer spinning the paper bag so the corners twisted into neat seals
  • Listening to The Children's hour on the radio
  • Cleaning the black board duster at school
  • School milk
  • Sewing at school
  • Lollies from the milk bar - violet crumbles, lolly teeth, fruit tingles, and best of all lolly cigarettes

My favourite memory comes in Chapter 32 when Anna talks about putting a tennis ball into the end of an old stocking and hitting it against a wall while chanting a rhyme.

I am not supposed to include text quotes because I have read an Advanced Reader Copy of 52 Mondays but I cannot resist this line:

"Anna went on reading Hitty every moment she could. She tried to slow down and make the book last longer, but too many exciting things kept happening."

If you are a librarian or a Teacher-Librarian make sure you read Chapter 28. Memories of catalogue drawers, due date slips, book pockets and having a date stamped on your own hand!

The structure of 52 Mondays with Anna waiting for Monday each week when she can go to the auction house hoping to find an antique doll means the plot moves along at a pleasing pace and I liked the way each chapter reads as a distinct story. The addition of Jewish family traditions added to my interest.

This book is a companion volume to an earlier title by Anna. I had The Family with two front doors on my too read pile for over a year. I have not yet read it and now it has disappeared. Perhaps I gave it to a friend for her library. Now I will have to retrieve it. Oddly the reviews of this one wildly disagree about the audience. Sue warren of Just So Stories says 12+, Ms Yingling says it might not appeal to her Middle Grade students, and Megan Daley will or has used this with her Grade Six Book Club girls.

Anna loves dolls and doll houses. I was desperate for a dolls house when I was a child but I did have some very special dolls. Here is one of them:


Anna Ciddor said...

Thank you for such an interesting and insightful review! I love your old doll, and I am thrilled we have so many memories in common :-)

Momo said...

Hi Anna - Can you clear up the mystery of the title of your Hitty book? Thanks for your comment on my blog. It is a thrill to hear from an author! The plot of your earlier book Runestone still lingers with me.

Anna Ciddor said...

Hi! Yes, I can. My copy of Hitty is much older than yours. On the front cover it just has the one word 'Hitty' but on the title page it is called HITTY - THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF A WOODEN DOLL. And, oddly, on the spine, it is called HITTY - the life of a wooden doll! Mine is an old library copy and it has a Notice to Borrowers label pasted on the back which includes such Library rules as 'Books must be immediately returned in the event of the outbreak of any infectious disease in the house in which the borrower is dwelling'. I'm glad you have fond memories of Runestone too!

Momo said...

How funny to see that infectious diseases notice. I volunteer at The Children's Hospital and last week we had to 'throw away' 8 books because they had been with an infectious patient. They were little beginner chapter books in French. So this issue continues today. Thanks for the information about your copy of Hitty. I am curious to read it. I just found the cover on my post on the internet!