November 06, 2009

Another Literary Treasure - Caddie Woodlawn

Tonight we finished reading CADDIE WOODLAWN by Carol Ryrie Brink. This book was originally published in 1935 and was awarded the John Newbery Medal for the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. Caddie's adventures provide an exciting and authentic picture of life on the Wisconsin frontier in the 1860s. If you enjoy reading about real people (as Mason puts it) or if you found pleasure in reading THE LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE series, then you might really enjoy this neat book.

A few chapters back, we came upon a real treasure. First, I'll give you some background information. Caddie is very much a tomboy, she has always run wild with her brothers. Caddie and her brothers had been playing pranks on their "prim and proper", "too-good-for-Wisconsin" cousin who has come to visit them. The last prank has been one too many, and mother is furious about it. She harshly punishes Caddie but lets the boys out of it. Caddie is so stung by the injustice of her taking all the punishment, that she has decided to run away and join the Indians after everyone goes to sleep for the night. Caddie's father comes up to the loft and checks on all the girls before retiring to bed. Caddie is pretending to be asleep but father knows better and sits on her bed and talks to her.

"Perhaps Mother was a little hasty today, Caddie," he said. "She really loves you very much, and, you see, she expects more of you than she would of someone she didn't care about. 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's a big task, too, Caddie - harder than cutting trees or building mills or damming rivers. It takes nerve and courage and patience, but good women have those things. They have them just as much as the men who build bridges and carve roads through the wilderness. A woman's work is something fine and noble to grow up to, and it is just as important as a man's. But no man could ever do it so well. I don't want you to be the silly, affected person with the fine clothes and manner whom folks sometimes call a lady. No, that is not what i want for you, my little girl. I want you to be a woman with a wise and understanding heart, healthy in body and honest in mind. Do you think you would like to be growing up into that woman now? How about it Caddie, Have we run with the colts long enough?

That was just one of the treasures in this book. I think it is wonderful and am looking forward to reading the sequel MAGICAL MELONS.

1 comment:

  1. One of our VERY FAVORITES!!! I also love how Caddie comes to realize and embrace her femininity. Beautiful!


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