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M. C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia…

M. C. Higgins, the Great (original 1974; edition 1974)

by Virginia Hamilton

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1,618226,510 (3.51)28
Title:M. C. Higgins, the Great
Authors:Virginia Hamilton
Info:New York : Macmillan, 1974.
Collections:Read but unowned
Tags:JFIC, read august 2016

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M. C. Higgins, the Great by Virginia Hamilton (1974)

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Showing 1-5 of 22 (next | show all)
The story of a few tumultuous days in the life of M.C. Higgins, a 13-year-old in the hills of southern Ohio.

This book won a trifecta of awards in its year: the Newbery Medal, the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award, and the National Book Award. The writing is undoubtedly distinguished, reminding me a little bit of Flannery O'Connor's writing in its use of symbolism. However, my enjoyment of the book was hampered by a strong dislike for the main character and his interactions with the girl he meets (one of the book's major plot points). I'm glad to be able to say I've read it, but it's not a book I'll ever want to revisit. ( )
  foggidawn | Aug 24, 2016 |
M. C. Higgins, the Great is one of those books that once you start you can’t put down, but it is so much more than that. Her characters are deep, wise and reverent. The world through M. C.’s eyes is one I could never have imagined or experienced and one that I didn’t want to leave. This is a coming of age story and watching M.C. sort through so many complex feelings really allows the reader to identify with him.

Since this is based on life in 1974, today's younger readers may need some background knowledge and understanding of what life was like in the time and place that M.C. lived. The first chapter was a little difficult for me to get into, so students may need some encouragement to get beyond the first chapter. However, I was hooked after that. Also, how M.C. treats Lurhetta Outlaw in the beginning may need some discussion. In addition, the relationship between M.C. and his father could use some discussion, especially for the scene when father and son wrestle. Some students may not understand their complex relationship and interpret this portion of the book incorrectly. It may need to be explained that Jones is trying to teach M.C. something and to make him strong in what is a very tough world. Lastly, this book deals with prejudice but not prejudice as you would expect and Virginia Hamilton presents and works this through for the reader beautifully.

Amazon recommends this book for ages 8-12, however, I would say it is for students age 12-17 because of the complexity of the text and the emotional maturity required to understand much of the story. It is 288 pages long.
  jmjobes | Jul 16, 2016 |
So I should start by saying I listened to this as an audiobook, and I have a terrible attention span when it comes to audiobooks. I know I zoned out for parts of it, but I was getting really tired of skipping back to catch what I missed.

The book takes place over the course of a few days in the life of M.C. Higgins, a boy living in the hills near the Ohio river. Over the course of these few days quite a bit happens. At first I thought the book was going to be about strip mining and the loss of the beauty of the natural world, because that is what was focused on in the beginning. But then MC meets a traveling man who has come to record his mother's excellent singing voice, so I thought the book was going to be about this. But then MC meets this stranger girl wandering through the woods, so for a while the book is about their strange relationship. And also there is this pole that MC always sits on. Just a tall, stationary pole with a bike seat on top that his father gave him as a present for swimming the Ohio...

There were a few things I liked about this book. I liked the setting and the sense of place the book creates. I had moments where I liked the complicated nature of MC's character. Mostly, however, I was bored, and mostly I really didn't like MC at all. I had a really hard time getting over the fact that when he met this girl in the woods, (who later becomes a friend of sorts) he pins her down, cuts her back with a knife, and kisses her. I found it incredibly disturbing.

Another disappointing Newbery winner. ( )
  klburnside | Aug 11, 2015 |
I read this because I had vague memories of it from childhood. I remember being confused by it and very uninterested (probably because it is so atmospheric). Now that I've reread it, I realize why our teachers did a unit based on this book. It's set in Appalachia and has themes related to environmentalism, being kind to others, self reliance, poverty, etc. Even though it had been about 20 years since I read this book- I still knew certain plot points, although they didn't come back to me until I was reading it. I would feel confident recommending this book to children through adults knowing they will all get something different out of it. ( )
  GR8inD8N | Mar 28, 2014 |
This book is about a young boy named M.C. Higgins who lives on Sarah's mountain in rural Ohio with his family. The mountain is named for his great-grandmother who escaped there from slavery. Since then, it has belonged to his family, and one day it will be his. However, strip mining on the other side of the mountain is creating a dangerous spoil above their house, causing M.C. to worry about whether or not it is safe to stay. When a man M.C. calls the dude comes with his tape recorder to hear his mother sing, M.C. hopes that it will make her famous so they can leave. He is torn between two sides of himself (wanting to leave, but not wanting to give up his ancestral home), and must struggle to make sense of his world. This is an engaging story that highlights family, friendship, and the struggles of growing up.

In a classroom, this could be used for independent reading or in a literature circle. The themes of family and friendship could lead to rich discussions, in addition to issues like strip mining and prejudice. ( )
  Michaela.Bushey | Dec 6, 2013 |
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» Add other authors (2 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Virginia Hamiltonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Dillon, DianeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Dillon, LeoCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Palencar, John JudeCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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for Susan Hirschman
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Mayo Cornelius Higgins raised his arms high to the sky and spread them wide. He glanced furtively around. It was all right. There was no one to see his greeting to the coming sunrise.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0590672975, Paperback)

From a perch on his 40-foot pole (a gift from his father for swimming across the Ohio River), M.C. likes to slide his hand over the rolling mountains, smooth out the sky, and fluff up the trees to the south of Sarah's Mountain. To the north, though, no amount of pretending can make the whine of bulldozers and deep gashes in the mountain disappear. Ever since M.C.'s great-grandmother Sarah came here as a runaway slave, Sarah's Mountain has been home to the Higgins family. But now their home is threatened by the strip-mining that has left a giant slag heap perched precariously above their house. Will the two strangers who appear in the hills help M.C. save his family?

Reissued in celebration of its 25th anniversary, M.C. Higgins the Great has a power that runs deeper than the coal seam snaking through M.C.'s mountain. The intensity of family bonds, the depth of rural superstition, and the grim tragedy of environmental destruction weave together in a story that is as complex as it is beautiful. Not surprisingly, Virginia Hamilton, who has won every major award given to authors, received the Newbery Medal, the National Book Award, and the Boston Globe/Horn Book Award for this excellent novel. (Ages 13 and older) --Emilie Coulter

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:05:29 -0400)

(see all 7 descriptions)

As a slag heap, the result of strip mining, creeps closer to his house in the Ohio hills, fifteen-year-old M.C. is torn between trying to get his family away and fighting for the home they love.

(summary from another edition)

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