Wednesday, February 1, 2023

Midweek: January summary and February plans


Rabbit, rabbit -- it's February 1!

I had a great quilting month.

YTD fabric IN:   20 yards, free  (a gift from a friend)

YTD fabric OUT:  50-3/4    

Here's the new flimsy.   2-1/8 yards, 42 x 54.

The cheddar and gray/taupe solids were part of the charity quilt kits available at the guild meeting in December.  The charity chairmen said they'd put the kits together with what they thought might make a nice wheelchair quilt but that we could use the fabrics as we chose.  The kits I took turned out to be 20 yards and I have assuaged any guilt by making 12 wheelchair quilts (six quilted) that used more than 20 yards.

The kits had 1/2 yard of cheddar and four FQs of taupe/gray.  I didn't think I'd find anything to go with that dark taupe.   But when I saw the pattern This Way, Not That by Jen Kingwell (see Monday's post) the light bulb went on.   Since there was twice as much taupe as cheddar I added the rust.  It was fun to fussy-cut motifs from the African wax resist FQs I've been saving.   The border looks like two different fabrics but that's fussy-cut, too.

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My OMG list for February:  

(1)   A wall hanging to enter in the GFWC-IL Tenth District Art Contest on March 1

(2)   A daisy-themed something for the outgoing president of the P.E.O. Lake County Round Table

(3)   A baby quilt commission.   I'm not sure when the baby is due, but the quilt is due before March 11 (the day of the baby shower). 

Bonus:   something PINK for the February RSC color.  (The baby is a boy so I can't double-duty.)

Linking up with OMG at Elm Street   Midweek Makers  Wednesday Wait Loss     

Sunday, January 29, 2023

Weekly update: a finish and a start


It's sometimes hard to realize that just three years ago most of us had never Zoomed.   This week I had three Zoom sessions --  on Wednesday,ALA Freedom to Read Foundation (two screens of participants); on Saturday, AAUW-Illinois winter board meeting; and on Sunday, Retired Members Round Table Fifth Sunday Book Club. ("Biography" was the prompt for this session.  Our choices were eclectic, from Maus to Prince Harry to Jimmy Buffett.)  

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I made16 framed four-patch blocks in each of the monthly colors for the 2021 Rainbow Scrap Challenge.  I set the blocks last year.  Now they're a quilt!  60 x 60, 2-3/4 yds for the back and binding.  (I counted yardage for the blocks when I made them.)  

It took quite a while to decide on the fabrics for the back.

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I fell in love with African wax resist prints when I won a stack of  FQs (story here).   I've finally cut into them.   

The design is "This Way, Not That" by Jen Kingwell in her book Quilt Recipes.  If you look closely you'll see that it's a square-in-a-square block in offset rows.  

The pattern called for snow-ball style corners (corner squares on the center square) but that results in cutaway triangles and I don't need more of those.  Instead I'm using the Square 2 ruler by Deb Tucker/Studio 180.

Linking up with  Oh Scrap! and Design Wall Monday 

P.S.  This year's amaryllis is a triple.  



Thursday, January 26, 2023

Friday check in: blue and white finished plus OMG for January


I surprised myself!  The blue and white blanket weave quilt is quilted and bound.  On Wednesday I wrote that I had to trim quite a bit to even up the sides.  I had to do more trimming when the quilting was finished.  

The large floral print on the back was a gift from our dear Magpie Celia's stash.  (Her daughter sent each of us a box.) 

5-3/8 yards for this project.

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The MQG mini quilt was my January OMG.  I wrote about it earlier.  My swap partner wrote to say she received it and she likes it.   She's finishing up her mini and  it will arrive soon.  

I'm reposting the photo for the OMG Finish Link Up   and also posting to  Finished or Not Friday   Peacock Party Scrap Happy Saturday

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

Midweek: trickier than it looks


Here's the variation on the blue-and-white pattern design I showed on Monday.

I cut all the pieces carefully.  I pieced all the pieces carefully.  All the units butted up nicely, BUT!  

One side was 1-1/2" wider at the bottom than at the top!   I folded the flimsy along the seamline in the middle, measured twice, and  trimmed up that errant side.  Though it's hard to see against the white design wall, the medium blue on the right edge has a shorter starting block than those below it.

It won't matter to the recipient (whoever that turns out to be).   If I try this again (multi-color scrappy? how about homespuns?) I will try to avoid the mysterious expansion!

Linking up with Wednesday Wait Loss and Midweek Makers 

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

BOTW: all that glitters


In the early 20th century the Franco-American Pelletier family arrived in Colorado to join their father/husband at the Moonstone marble quarry.  Daughter Sylvie tells the story of the terrible conditions for the quarrymens' families -- unheated, unplumbed shacks, far from town.  When she finishes school she gets a job as a reporter for the scrappy labor-friendly local newspaper.  The next summer she is hired as the secretary for the quarry-owner's (third) wife.  Sylvie sees first-hand the profligate luxury of the robber barons and is determined to work for justice for the working class.  Her life is complicated by the attentions of Jace Padgett, the quarry-owner's son, and of George Lonahan, an organizer for the United Mine Workers.   Sylvie's choice begins as a disaster but subsequent events turn out for the better.

"We cannot help how the past is knitted into the calcium of [our] bones, pressed and hardened as coal is under the great pressure of living, frenzy, and worry," she writes in 1934 (p.435).  But when her young adult daughter brushes off a story from those formative years, "In a snap like that I saw how history is lost....For you, the past is alive in yourself as breath. To...the young, it's a story, no more real in life than a painting. They're in their own story." (p.444)

The story invited comparison to Jess Walter's The Cold Millions (review here)  

Monday, January 23, 2023

Weekly update: two entertaining afternoons and another finish (and start)

It was too wet and cold for walks this weekend.   We had indoor entertainment instead.Saturday afternoon we saw  A Man Called Otto. It was wonderful--can Tom Hanks make a bad movie?  And Mariana Trevino as Marisol -- what a delight.  It complements the Swedish movie and the book.  

On Sunday afternoon we went to the College of Lake County to see The Great DuBois.Juggling and gymnastics!  The 350-seat Studio Theater is small and all seats had a good view. (The entry is at the back row and our seats were on the aisle.  Easier for Stevens to negotiate.  Mind you, we also had back row seats at the movie theater but those required climbing stairs in dim light. Not good. Next time I will pay better attention to the seating diagram.)

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In the studio:  the scrappy spiral flimsy is quilted and bound.  

I quilted spirals in the blocks and a grid in the sashes.   It's 60" x 65".

Quilter's World magazine has been around for decades.   Some time ago I bought a box of back issues at a thrift store that went back to the very early days.  (I later gave all of those to a quilt history researcher.)   I've recently bought several issues from the magazine stand at Jewel or Walgreen's.  It is now published quarterly.  I don't know how much control the new editor Carolyn Beam has over the content, but it's gotten better.   That leads to my new project inspired by a pattern in the current issue.  

This is "as patterned."  Though it's hard to see against the design wall, the columns are pieced and the borders are pinned.  But, gee, that's a lot of white.  I have a change in mind.   

Here is part 2.   Come back later this week to see.

Linking up with Design Wall Monday and Oh Scrap!

Friday, January 20, 2023

Friday check in: birthday week, mini in the mail, and a finish!


Look who began a "prime" year on Wednesday.   The Facebook post with this photo garnered 139 "likes" and 94 comments to his surprise and gratification.   (I gave him three new pairs of his preferred suspenders and a large-screen clock/calendar, not-so-tactfully described as a "dementia clock" on the Amazon listing.)

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Earlier this month I made this spiral quilt and wrote that I'd like to try the concept with other blocks.  Now I have! It's my entry for the 2023 MQG Mini Swap. I mailed it to my swap partner earlier this week.

Though the swap instructions said 24 x 24 this is 24 x 26 to make the design work properly.   All batik.  I pieced 3/4" x 7"+/- strips in groups of six, pressed, and sliced into 2-1/2" pieces.  The binding is a batik stripe that echoes the multi-color blocks, though I didn't intend to have the binding blend that closely with the final block (lower left). 

This is the third year I've participated in this swap.  It's a good design challenge.   

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Here's this week's other finish.  I made the flimsy in December.  

 The backing fabric was a  rummage sale bargain that turned out to be 24 yards. The faux woodblock print is very, very dark.   For both this quilt and a previous one I've used it reverse-side-up.  There's a lot of it remaining so you'll see it in future finished quilts.

The pinwheels were my RSC block in 2019.   Maybe I'll use 'em up this year.   (Maybe I won't.)

Linking up with Finished or Not Friday and Peacock Party

Tuesday, January 17, 2023

BOTW: saints and troublemakers

 BOTW = Books of the Week -- what I've been reading lately.

"I sing a song of the saints of God, patient and brave and was a doctor, and one was a queen, and one was a shepherdess on the green....and I mean to be one, too,"  goes the Sunday school hymn

Daneen Akers tells the stories of 37 of these saints in short biographies. Some are well-known (Florence Nightingale, Harriet Tubman, Francis of Assisi, Mr. Rogers). Some are lesser-known (suffragist Alice Paul, preacher Anne Hutchinson, civil rights leader Bayard Rustin, poet Mary Oliver). Others were new to me --and what a wonderful group! Imams, rabbis, and pastors, making trouble mostly in the U.S. but in other countries as well. Cis, trans, straight, gay. All of them speak truth to power as they seek in their way to "work to heal our present world, making it a just, safe, and compassionate home for everyone." 

Each biography includes a follow-up question asking readers how they might exemplify that saint's mission. "What are some ways you can help others to be free? Have you ever had to do something that felt scary in order to be true to yourself? What does it mean to you to 'love without exception'?"   

Inspiration and food for thought for kids (10 and up) and adults.  

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And on the topic of holy troublemakers, "How do you solve a problem like Maria?" leads to The Sound of Music which leads to Julie Andrews which leads to the next book. 

"Let's start at the very beginning/that's a very good place to start. When you read you begin with A, B, C / when you sing you begin with Do, Re, Mi." We automatically hear Julie Andrews singing that famous song in The Sound of Music. And who better to explain just how musical notation began?

In this charming picture book Andrews and her daughter Emma Walton Hamilton tell the story about the 11th century Italian Benedictine monk Guido d'Arezzo. "Guidonian Hand" is the term for the notation system he codified.

The story is enhanced with essays about the contemporary song, written by Rogers and Hammerstein; a glossary; a description of life in a medieval monastery; and historical notes.

Children's books can provide just the right amount of information on a topic, as The First Notes proves.  

Sunday, January 15, 2023

Weekly update: RSC blue, the mini swap, and a gift


More mild weather this week meant time for several walks--Camp Logan (Illinois Beach State Park) and three forest preserves:Sedge Meadow River Trail, Raven Glen West, and Rollins Savanna.  

Top right:  milkweed pod. Center: "winter berries" is my generic name; moss is about the only green this time of year. Bottom: ground cherries; Indian hemp, aka dogbane, pods.  Here's more about dogbane.

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When I finished My Blue Heaven last month there were enough triangles and squares left over to make 26 star blocks. They are 8-1/2" unfinished.

I'm not sure how I'll set them.

Since blue is the January RSC color this is my entry.

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Last week I showed a possibility for the MQG mini swap.  I wasn't crazy about it. I tried something else.  That didn't click, either.  Third time's the charm and now the mini-quilt is ready to be quilted.  It's still a surprise so you only get a peek.  I'll mail it this week.

A friend stopped by on Friday afternoon with a bag of quilting  fabric.  20 yards by weight.  What fun!  (Some I'll keep and some I'll pass on.)

Linking up with RSC at So Scrappy   Oh Scrap!   Design Wall Monday

Wednesday, January 11, 2023

Midweek: WITB = wheelchair #12


The same same drawer that held the MixMash blocks (see Monday's post) also had a few red rails blocks--17, to be precise.  (For me a red rails *block* is composed of four red rails *units.*  A unit is made out of 3 pieces, 1.5"x3.5".)

Since I emptied the 1.5"x3.5" box for this quilt I wasn't ready to sew up a whole bunch more rails units, let alone rails blocks. 

While I was rooting around in the orphans box I came across some blocks that I pieced out of leftovers from Grassy Creek, the 2020-21 Quiltville mystery:   4" baskets and 6" Louisiana blocks.   (The gray/white print that frames the baskets was in another box of leftovers from the 2021 wedding quilt.)

I put them all up on the design wall and here's what happened!   This flimsy is 36" x 48",just right for a wheelchair quilt for the guild charity project.

Here is the January One Monthly Goal thus far.  Because the finished wall hanging is supposed to be a surprise I won't show you more than this.  

Linking up with Midweek Makers and Wednesday Wait Loss

Monday, January 9, 2023

BOTW: a five-star recommendation

Is January 9 too soon to declare a favorite book of the year? Joanna Quinn's sweeping novel will certainly be high on my list for 2023.

Christabel Seagrave, her stepsister Flossie, and her cousin Digby (who is Flossie's stepbrother) grow up at Chilcombe, their family's crumbling manor in the Dorset countryside. The adults (parents, a stepmother, and an uncle/father/stepfather in one, as well as a couple of permanent houseguests) leave them largely to their own devices though the servants (cook, butler, maid, and governess) look out for them.   

 In 1928 when Christabel is 12 a whale washes up on the shore. She claims it and uses the bones to create a theatre on the lawn. Over a decade she stages many plays (mostly Shakespeare) with Flossie, Digby, the adults, and the servants among the repertory company.

When World War II begins Digby enlists in the Army and is sent to Africa. Christabel joins the Special Operations Executive, the secretive intelligence division on the ground in Occupied France. Flossie joins the Land Army and keeps Chilcombe going as a working farm.

Who can Christabel trust in those dangerous days of 1944 when a misspoken word or even a glance can break the most carefully-constructed cover? In the end it is those whom she has known the longest and loved the most. The Seagrave siblings are forever bound to one another.

P.S. Kudos to publisher Knopf for retaining British spelling (theatre, colour, favourite, etc.)

P.S. 2 p. 125: "Their most-loved books have been read so many times, they only have to look at the covers to know how it feels to be enclosed within them. But the worlds contained within the books do not remain between the covers. They seep out and overlay the geography of their lives."

Sunday, January 8, 2023

Weekly update: an anniversary, some walking, and a WITB surprise

Twenty years ago this past week (January 2, 2003) I began a new job as director of the Zion-Benton Public Library.    It was my sixth and final professional position.  It was a good move for me and, I think, a good move for the library.  (This appointment began with less fanfare than APL in 1982 and that was perfectly okay.)

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The week's been overcast and damp albeit snow-less.  After good walks last weekend it wasn't until this afternoon (Sunday) that I got out again.  Top:  the sun came out for a moment.  Left: a fringe of icicles.  Fungus is the only thing in "bloom" this time of year.

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Elizabeth DeCroos  (Epida Studio) was the presenter at the guild's Zoom meeting on Wednesday.   She told us the history  of pojagi (Korean patchwork, usually for wrapping cloths) She showed us how it is done traditionally and then how she has adapted it for contemporary stained-glass effect patchwork.   Very interesting!

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WITB = what's in the box.   Technically, it was a drawer, not a box, that I opened to look for something.  I didn't find that (and I don't remember what "that" was) but I did find a stack of MixMash blocks that I had completely forgotten I'd made. MixMash is a design by Shelly Pagliai . Her blocks are 4" finished.  Mine are 5" finished because 1-1/2" strips/squares are a size I save.  I put them on the design wall and look what happened!

The flimsy is 60 x 65 and used 3-7/8 yards.  I might have made it bigger but I didn't have enough of the background.  The spiral design intrigues me and I'm already envisioning it made with flying geese.


Here's a block pre-assembled.  

Linking up at Design Wall Monday and Oh Scrap!

P.S.  The call to worship at this morning's church service really described me.

Thursday, January 5, 2023

Overdue, part 2: recent reading

 (This is the second catch-up book review post.  Look for BOTW to return later this month.)

A librarian friend In Massachusetts said that her library hosted a program with local author Peter Zheutlin talking about the biography and novel he wrote about his adventurous great-grandaunt.  I checked out both and read the novel first.  

"Spin" works two ways in this true-story novel.  Annie Kapchovsky did indeed take a spin around the world on a bicycle. That was back in 1894 and she did it to earn a $5000 prize. That would be enough to support her family (her Talmud scholar husband and two children) for years.  And as she cycled she spun her story, from her nom-de-voyage (Annie Londonderry) to her background (Harvard medical student!).  She took liberties with the terms of the challenge, changing bicycles from the clunky 42-lb Columbia to the sleeker 21-lb Sterling.  Though she went around the world she traveled a lot of it by boat (of course) and by train.  And, yes, she made it!  

"The lesson I learned was this," Annie tells her granddaughter Mary years later. "Never underestimate the power of the mind to see what it wants to see and to believe what it wants to believe....For the most part people wanted to believe, and so they did. Perception has a way of becoming reality." (p. 191)

This nonfiction account is very detailed but easy-to-read and has many good photographs.   The novel is more sprightly because it's told by Annie to her granddaughter.

This memoir and call to action struck chord after chord with me.  Bill McKibben's parents chose to move to Lexington, Mass., in the early 1960's because of its proximity to Boston, its excellent schools, and at the time still-affordable housing.  That milieu set the course for

his life as an environmental activist and writer.    

     The Flag: the town's place in American history was inescapable, of course, and one of McKibben's summer jobs was as a tour guide at the national park.  But Lexington was a contemporary town, too. McKibben recounts the affordable/fair housing effort that townspeople supported until the issue reached their own back yards.  
     The Cross: Like a majority of Americans in those years the McKibbens were active members of their church, in this case the socially-progressive mainline United Church of Christ (and the oldest congregation in Lexington).  McKibben writes about the decline in church participation in the decades since.  
     The Station Wagon:  the way to get to anywhere in the U.S. is by automobile.   That culture - the rite of passage getting a driver's license, piling the family aboard to head out to the beach or on vacation -- but also altering the landscape with streets and highways, hours spent in traffic, pollution, climate change.
     What the Hell Happened:  McKibben believes that the "graying Americans" have a lot of influence to wield and he calls them (us!) to action NOW.

A couple of years ago McKibben wrote Radio Free Vermont, his only novel to date.    A 70-ish radio broadcaster, a 20-is computer geek, and a former Olympic skier are involved in a plot for Vermont to secede from the US.   It's a rollicking caper -- subversiveness at its best!

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The odd quartet -- golden-agers Elizabeth (former MI5 agent), Ibrahim (still a psychologist), Rod (union organizer), and Joanna (a not-so-ordinary housewife and mother) -- set out to solve another unsolved mystery. They don't do it alone! They have help from police constables Chris and Donna; the local (now-jailed) drug dealer Connie; former KGB agent Viktor (with whom Elizabeth crossed paths); jack-of-all-traded Bogdan, and a host of others. The story is told from multiple points of view with twists and turns -- and in the end the Club finds out what happened to the young reporter who disappeared two decades before.

The series gets better with each book. It would be great on television.
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Jenny Newberg has messed up many times in her life. She's a single mom, recently unemployed, and behind in her house payment. "I'm sorry" peppers most of her conversations with everyone including her chain-smoking mother Carla and her best friend Lyd but mostly with her smart, imaginative seven-year=old daughter Billie Starr. When two black-suited men offer her $5000 if she carries out a scheme to discredit the underdog candidate for governor she says yes. What can go wrong? The scheme leads to job (for pay!) with the candidate's campaign. But when Billie Starr goes missing after a class field trip Jenny has to quickly reevaluate everything about her existence -- and Billie Starr comes first.

There's humor, sorrow, some suspense, blame, forgiveness, acceptance -- and in the end, love. 
That's it for now.    Happy reading to all! 

Wednesday, January 4, 2023

Overdue! Part 1: Newbery winners

 Reading is like breathing:  if I cease to do it then I will no longer be alive.  I assure you that I am very much alive and thus I have indeed been reading.  I just haven't been composing blog posts with book reviews.  I *will* get back on track in 2023.

2022 was the Newbery centennial.  To mark that the ALA Retired Members Round Table book club chose Newbery winners as the prompt for our fifth Sunday Zoom meeting, which was October 31.   I chose The Door in the Wall by Marguerite DeAngeli (1950 winner).

 "Always remember to follow the wall far enough and there will be a door in it," Brother Luke advises Robin, a young boy suffering from a mysterious paralysis.    During an eventful year Robin encounters walls both real and metaphorical and manages to find doors in them.  

I first read this Newbery Medal winner about 60 years ago. All I recalled was:  Middle Ages, crippled boy, saving the castle.  Perhaps the impression of gentle heroism comes from Marguerite de Angeli's soft-edged illustrations (even the ruffians at the wayside inn look like jolly bad guys).   All these years later I note the lack of context -- though there is detail aplenty in the descriptions of Robin's activities there is no actual year, nor is the English king named.  Fortunately this 1989 reprint has cataloging-in-publication that says "Great Britain, Edward III, 1327-1377."   

Of the three Newbery Medal books set in Medieval England, I think that Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! (2008) is the best-researched and that Adam of the Road (1943) is the best tale.  Door in the Wall comes in third.

Rereading DITW led me to check out some of  Marguerite DeAngeli's historical fiction.  I re-read Yonie Wondernose, Thee, Hannah!, Skippack School, Up the Hill, and The Lion in the Box. DeAngeli's illustrations are sweet, rather like Tasha Tudor.   I now realize that the Pennsylvania setting appealed to my mother (her home state) so she'd have encouraged our interest in the stories.

Why did I remove the medal sticker? 
The RMRT discussion prompted me to to discover and re-discover other Newbery winners.

Johnny Tremain (1944 winner) was the re-discovery. 

I received this copy of Johnny Tremain when I was 10.  At first it was challenging (small print, a dense story) but by junior high and the second and third readings I was enthralled.   I've had the book on the shelf all these years and only now have I re-read it.    I remembered Lynd Ward's illustrations -- the color cover/frontispiece, the map of Boston on the endpapers, and the black/white illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. I remembered the font. I kind of remembered the story.   I've visited historic sites and read a lot of nonfiction and fiction about "Boston in revolt" (as the subtitle says) to put the story into context.  I loved it all over again.  

P.S.  I noted some distinctly 20th-century (1940's) terminology.  P. 90:  working "full-time." P. 102: "all the Lindas and Betsys, Pollys, Peggys, and Sallys of Lexington" -- Linda was hardly a common first name in 1775.   P. 137:  "have the guts to run off."  P. 140 "a grand kid." P. 1887: "a good guy. "  P. 222 "the schools were closed" (inference: public school schedules like nowadays). P. 232:  "pack her duds."  

P.S. 2  I wrote to Esther Forbes (in1965 or so) to ask what happened next.   I pasted her reply in my copy of the book.  She assured me that Johnny did marry Cilla "but not until he almost married that wretched Isannah in London after the war. She was what you'd call a 'glamor girl'."

P.S. 3  I have never seen the Disney movie. version..

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Number the Stars (1990 winner)  

Lowry's book is set in Denmark under Nazi occupation. It  is based on the true story of a Gentile family who helped their Jewish neighbors escape to safety in Sweden.  It can be difficult to explain the atrocity of the Holocaust to children but Lowry shows the bravery, compassion, and determination not only of the adults but also of ten-year-old Anne-Marie.

The Westing Game (1979 winner)

I completely missed this when it came out in 1978.   I would SO have loved it years before that when I was a middle-grader who devoured mysteries. The plot is convoluted and that's the point.  It well deserves the accolades and its classic status. (I was surprised at how contemporary it seemed -- of course no computers or internet, but the rest could be set today.)  The 2003 edition has an introduction by Raskin's editor Ann Durell that provides biographical and background.

King of the Wind (1949 winner) 

All I'd remembered about this one was "Godolphin Arabian." Now I've relearned what Godolphin was (an estate near Wales) and this story of one of the sires for the entire thoroughbred breed.

Bud, Not Buddy (2000 winner) 

  Bud-not-Buddy is a resourceful 10-year-old who gets himself out of a terrible foster home and on the road to finding his family.    He's developed guiding principles that he calls "Rules and Things" that help him along the way.   The story has some suspense, some humor, a lot of hope, and a triumphant conclusion.

I read the 20th anniversary paperback edition with informative supplements:  an introduction by Kwame Alexander, a foreword by the author, and an interview with the author.

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With these  I'm up to 44 out of 100.  #101 will be announced at the end of this month.  I hereby state that in 2023 I will read at least 31 more to get me up to 75.