Home School Book Review, October 9, 2012 (view all comments by Home School Book Review)
Sounder is a coon dog which lives with a poor, African-American family of sharecroppers in the post-Civil War South. The family consists of a father, a mother, an older son, and several younger children. The father struggles to feed his family in hard times. After working hard in the fields all day, he and Sounder go out hunting night after night but come home empty-handed. Then one morning, a ham is cooking in the cabin’s kitchen. However, that evening, an angry sheriff and his deputies come to arrest the father for stealing food and take him away to jail. When Sounder tries to go along with his master, he is shot in the face and crawls away, whether to heal or to die no one knows.
After the trial, the father is sent away to work in the chain gangs. Then the waiting begins for the boy, his mother, and the family��"waiting for word from his father, waiting to hear Sounder’s familiar bark, always waiting. After a while, the boy, angry and humiliated, begins going out all over the countryside to look for his father wherever he hears that there is a chain gang at work, returning home frequently to take his father’s place in the fields. His search continues for a number of years. Along the way he encounters a lot of abuse from guards and others, but he also meets an elderly schoolteacher who helps him to learn how to read. But will he ever find his father? And what will happen to Sounder?
This extremely well-written, powerful story, which won the Newbery Medal in 1970, clearly portrays the hopelessness of black sharecroppers during the late nineteenth century. Everything in the novel is understated, allowing the emotion to speak for itself. In addition to the history lessons on sharecropper life in the South, the book illustrates responsibility, faithfulness to family, and hard work. Even though she cannot read, the mother tells Bible stories to the children, and, encouraged by hearing about Joseph, David, and others, they patiently endure. William Howard Armstrong (1911-1999) is the author of some twenty other books, including Sour Land, a companion novel to Sounder. He based Sounder on stories told to him by an elderly African-American teacher who worked for his father.
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mlgonzalez, March 3, 2008 (view all comments by mlgonzalez)
Sounder is surely an attention-getter title. One wonders if it is about someone who 'sounds out' in some way, someone calling for help? It is surely an unusual name, to be sure.
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by Harper Collins,
Set in the Deep South, this Newbery Medal-winning novel tells the story of the great coon dog, Sounder, and the poor sharecroppers who own him.
During the difficult years of the nineteenth century South, an African-American boy and his poor family rarely have enough to eat. Each night, the boy's father takes their dog, Sounder, out to look for food and the man grows more desperate by the day.
When food suddenly appears on the table one morning, it seems like a blessing. But the sheriff and his deputies are not far behind. The ever-loyal Sounder remains determined to help the family he loves as hard times bear down on them.
This classic novel shows the courage, love, and faith that bind an African-American family together despite the racism and inhumanity they face. Readers who enjoy timeless dog stories such as Old Yeller and Where the Red Fern Grows will find much to love in Sounder.
Supports the Common Core State Standards
"Beautiful writing, moving storytelling: the death of a devoted dog and his black master in the rural 19th-century South leaves the man's son a hard but hopeful legacy of stoicism, resilience, and self-independence."--"School Library Journal." A 1970 Newbery Medalist and an ALA Notable Children's Book.
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