Friday, May 6, 2011
Caddie Woodlawn (1936)
I loved this book!!! This is the first of the Newbery's in my project that I have read and said to myself, and others, "What a great book!" Based on a true story, Caddie Woodlawn is about a year in the life of an 11-year-old girl in Wisconsin in the 1860s. It reminded me of Little House on the Prairie books, but better.
Caddie is one of a large family living on the brink of civilization. News is sparse, winters hard and adventure plentiful. Mr. Woodlawn persuaded Mrs. Woodlawn to let Caddie "run wild" for health reasons. An older brother and a younger brother made up the threesome. Caddie shows spirit, pluck, patriotism and a great deal of kindness and generosity.
Near the end of the book, Caddie was punished for playing a particularly bad practical joke on a visiting girl cousin. When her dad went up to talk to her, he gave a great speech about what is important about women. "It's a strange thing, but somehow we expect more of girls than of boys. It is the sisters and wives and mothers, you know, Caddie, who keep the world sweet and beautiful. What a rough world it would be if there were only men and boys in it, doing things in their rough way! A woman's task is to teach them gentleness and courtesy and love and kindness...It takes nerve and courage and patience, but good women have those things...A woman's work is something fine and noble to grow up to, and it is just as important as a man's...I want you to be a woman with a wise and understanding heart, healthy in body and honest in mind." (p. 244)
This is a Must-Read book! (Although now you will probably be let down since I've praised it so highly.)
Brink, Carol Ryrie. Caddie Woodlawn. Macmillan Publishing Company, 1935.