Tuesday, August 16, 2011
Strawberry Girl (1946)
In the Foreword of Strawberry Girl, Lois Lenski tells us her purpose in writing a "series of regional books for American children." She writes, "We need to know our country better; to know and understand people different from ourselves; so that we can say: 'This then is the way these people lived. Because I understand it, I admire and love them.'" (p. xi) Set in the early 1900's in the backwoods of Florida, this book is rich in regional dialect and character.
When the Boyers move from Marion County to the old Roddenberry house (I couldn't find a town name, only that they moved from northern Florida to somewhere more southern), they have more than just the land and weather to contend with. They have the Slaters. Despite all their efforts at being neighborly, the Slaters, just don't want to get along. The Boyers, along with many families in the area, start strawberry farms, and the Slaters' hogs and cattle roaming unfenced wreak havoc on the plants. But when Bihu Boyer decides to fence his land, that's when things get ugly.
Told from the perspective of 10-year-old Birdie, we experience with her the joy and sadness, faith and fear of a brave girl who wants to do good and who truly loves her neighbors despite their shortcomings. The Boyer family is portrayed as hard-working, kind, forward-looking; in sharp contrast with the Slaters, who are depicted as lazy, selfish and backward.
During the course of the story, Mrs. Boyer and Mrs. Slater and the children become friends and learn to appreciate and serve each other, but it takes a small miracle to bring Mr. Slater around.
I enjoyed reading this book very much.
Lenski, Lois. Strawberry Girl. HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 1945.