Awarded the Caldecott Medal in 1941, They Were Strong and Good is a classic book that follows the path of one family’s journey through American history. Robert Lawson introduces us to his forefathers and with them we brave Caribbean storms, travel to the wharf markets of New York, and fight in the Civil War. Amidst these adventures Lawson’s grandparents meet, marry, and raise a family, and later his parents follow the same cycle of life. But this book is more than just the story of one family, it’s a social history of our country. It reminds us to be proud of our ancestors—who they were, what they did, and the effect that they had on the nation we live in today.
None of them were great or famous, but they were strong and good. They worked hard and had many children. They all helped to make the United States the great nation that it now is. Let us be proud of them and guard well the heritage they have left us.
About the Author
Robert Lawson (1892-1957) received his art training at the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts. His favorite medium, pen and ink, is used expressively and with detail in his black and white illustrations in The Story of Ferdinand (by Munro Leaf). In addition to illustrating many children's books, including Mr. Popper's Penguins, Robert Lawson also wrote and illustrated a number of his own books for children. In 1940, he was awarded the Caldecott Medal for his picture book illustrations in They Were Strong and Good and in 1944, he was awarded the Newbery Medal for his middle grade novel Rabbit Hill.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Brief biographies of the author's grandparents and parents as told to him when he was young. Lacking in political correctness: Indians are a nuisance and his father had a slave, with whom he would go hunting. Descriptions are very brief, with one or two highlights of their lives.It seemed to me that his pictures of his mother's mother's farm and the city it became---Paterson, New Jersey---have the same underlying composition; cool!
They Were Strong and Good is about a little boy or girl just like you who has a mommy and a daddy. It tells all about their mommy, daddy, grandpa, grandma, and even more people in their family! The title relays to the child the positive aspects of a parent. It puts the perspective in their mind that their parents are a cornerstone in their lives. I would consider this book a biographical/traditional book because it deals with real life situations such as parents and their jobs and it conveys the importance of family. Hard work is an important theme that is shown throughout the book. The child in the book describes his family like this, 'They worked hard and had many children. They all helped to make the United States the great nation that it now is.' He also wants to preserve hard work and our heritage. He says, 'Let us be proud of them and guard well the heritage they have left us.' Author and illustrator Robert Lawson had an interest in art as well as writing. He attended the New York School of Fine and Applied Arts after graduation. This biography is about his ancestors. He won the Caldecott for this in 1940. Lawson, Robert. They Were Strong and Good. New York: The Viking Press, 1940.
My two children loved this book. It presents a warm and loving view of the sacrifices and integrity of the generations before us. My 7 year old's interest was sparked by the descriptions of Mr. Lawson's grandparents' lives and occupations. Beautiful illustrations!