Each year, The Newbery Medal is awarded to a book representing the best storytelling for children in the field. The 1925 prize was awarded to an author who based his works on world travels, and who devoted his career to promoting a love of literature to children through his book and adults through his journalism and work with literary magazines. He made such an impact on literature that there is a park named for him in his home state of Arkansas. Join us today as we take a closer look at children's adventure writer (among other things), Charles J. Finger in the 1925 edition of our Newbery Winning Author's series:
Who is Charles J. Finger
Charles J. Finger was born to a German tailor father and an Irish mother in Willesden, England. He studied at King's College in London before traveling to Germany to study music at Frankfurt University. His family moved to the United States during his university years. Still, Finger stayed in London for a time, participating in reform movements and socializing at the Royal Polytechnic Institution, now the University of Westminster. Before settling in the United States, he traveled around South America farming, working on ranches, and serving as an ornithological guide for expeditions. Afterward, he moved to Texas, where he worked as a rancher, then eventually at the San Angelo Music Conservatory, followed by work as a boilermaker for the railroad. In 1916, he began seeking publication for his novels and short stories. It took him three years before he saw success, publishing three short stories with The Mirror, a notable literary magazine of the time operating out of St. Louis. The editor encouraged Finger to turn to his own South American adventures for inspiration. After the magazine folded. Finger moved to Arkansas and began his own magazine aimed at The Mirror's readership. He then began his career as a writer in earnest, publishing over thirty-six books throughout his life, including adventure stories, non-fiction, and works that were part of the Little Blue Book series, the first mass-market paperback series in the US. He won the 1925 Newbery Medal for his book, Tales from Silver Lands, which was a collection of South American folktales. He passed away in 1941 at the age of seventy-one.
Tales from Silver Lands
Inspired by his travels in South America, Finger’s Newbery Medal winning book, Tales from the Silver Lands, collects nineteen folktales. This volume includes stories explaining cultural aspects of various peoples, including religion, social norms, and other customs. This was the first collection of folktales for children from this part of the world to be published in the United States.
Give a Man a Horse
Finger’s 1938 novel, Give a Man a Horse, is an example of one of his classic adventure stories. This book tells the story of two young men who set out to be cowboys. Once they own horses of their own, they discover a passion for seeing the world and decide to keep riding south into Mexico, down through South America, and to the very bottom of the South American continent.
A Selection of This Year’s Newbery Honors
Nicholas: A Manhattan Christmas Story by Annie Carroll Moore
Written by children’s librarian Annie Carroll Moore, Nicholas: A Manhattan Christmas Story tells of a boy from Holland that appears in the reading room of the New York Public Library on Christmas. He is given a tour of the city decked out for the holidays. While many of the current events referenced in the story may escape modern children, the book references well-known children’s characters like Alice and Hansel and Gretel.
The Dream Coach by Anne Parrish and Dillwyn Parrish
Written by brother and sister team Anne and Dillwyn Parrish, The Dream Coach is a collection of four fairy tales, which are brought to four different children around the world in a stagecoach that carries dreams. The stories are linked by the idea that it is important to keep the love of play and dreaming we experience as children as we get older and take on more responsibilities.