"I cannot sleep unless I am surrounded by books."

Borges

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Reviewing the Classics of Kidlit - Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

*Cover of my personal book that I've had since I was eight.

When I started AmoxCalli a couple of years ago my main goal was to get classic children’s literature in front of a new audience. I’m always surprised and dismayed when I talk to people about books that I think everyone grew up with and I get blank stares. It breaks my heart.

There is so much out there. I love all the new books that are coming out, books I’ve reviewed and recommended like Octavian Nothing, Hattie Big Sky, Anahita’s Woven Riddle, The Lighthouse Land, etc but I have a special place in my heart for the books that made me a lifelong reader, the ones that moved me and introduced me to new worlds. Because AmoxCalli is a book recommendation site (you won’t find any bad reviews here – if I don’t like it, I don’t post it), what better to recommend than those wonderful old books? I’ve been so busy reviewing the new stuff (not complaining, I love it) that I recently realized that I’ve not done what I set out to do with the blog – get people informed and interested in those old classics.

I put out a call for submissions and got a couple of responses from people who were just as excited as I am about showcasing those wonderful books. Look forward to seeing an eclectic and wonderful series of reviews from guest bloggers in the near future. If there’s a book that makes your heart go pitty-pat, that you remember fondly and want mentioned on the site, shoot me an email. If you’re interested in writing your own review of the books you love, email me and I’ll post it. The more of those books on this blog, the better.

For my first in the Reviewing the Classics of Kidlit posts, I’m choosing a personal favorite, Little Women not just because I love it so much but because I’ve bought so many copies of it to give out to young women I know – nieces, daughters of friends, girls I meet in the library or at bookstores, goddaughters, granddaughters. Each one has always come back to me amazed at how much they loved that book. They laughed, they cried, they learned something and each has their favorite part that they read over and over. One young girl in particular, the daughter of a dear friend who hated reading, refused to read it till I sat with her one day and read the first chapter aloud while she sat pouting. I finished the chapter and set the book down, went about my business and came back in to see her completely engrossed in the book an hour later.


Little Women
Author: Louisa May Alcott
Publisher: various but I chose this illustrated edition by Gramercy
ISBN-10: 0517221160
ISBN-13: 978-0517221167

Louisa May Alcott wrote many books but this is my all-time favorite of hers and one that I read over and over. Little Women tells the tale of four sisters, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March who are growing up in Civil War era North America. Their father, a minister is away at war as an army chaplain and their mother works very hard to keep her little family fed and clothed while still managing to do good charity works in the community. The Marches were once very rich, but because of bad investments, they have lost their money and are very poor.

Despite having very little money, worrying about their father and having to work very hard, the girls are good, cheerful, honest and strong willed young women. While they have their moments of jealousy and envy of others, they always manage to choose the right in the end and rise above their trials. Each of them is very human and very different from the other.

Jo is the tomboy writer with a nasty temper and hasty mouth that often gets her into trouble. Her more feminine and decorous older sister Meg is usually at her wits end trying to get Jo to be more ladylike. Meg is very sweet and gentle and always the voice of reason. Third child Beth is the most gentle of the girls. Beth is musical, tender and very, very shy. Amy, the youngest is an artist and just a bit affected. She’s always trying to use big words and ends up saying the wrong thing. Jo and Beth are the closest to each other, while Amy and Meg seem to understand each other the most. Jo and Amy often battle it out as their personalities really clash. Alcott’s characters are very, very human and real. Any girl can relate to fighting with her sister.

Next door to the girls lives rich Mr. James Laurence a gruff old man with a hidden soft heart. His grandson Theodore “Laurie” Laurence is handsome, friendly and lonely. He becomes friend to the girls after Jo throws a snowball into his window. The friendship is equal between the poor girls who bring love and family to him while he brings material things that they wouldn’t normally have.

There’s also the wonderfully nasty Aunt March who always has something to say about everything.

There is so much to say about this wonderful book which tells the story of growing up, lessons learned about life, love, duty, charity and caring that I can’t possibly sum it all up. It’s a book every young girl should have in her library and read with her mother. There are some strong lessons here that are defy time and will always be relevant. The lessons on strength, wisdom, love, patience and quiet service apply to us all.

3 comments:

Emily said...

Hi Gina,
I found your blog from A Chair, a Fireplace, & a Tea Cozy. I'm excited to see the reviews of classic kidlit. I would like to link to them over at Deliciously Clean Reads. Is that okay with you?

Gina MarySol Ruiz said...

Hi Emily,

Thank you for stopping by. I've added a link to your blog to my blogroll and I'd love for you to link to the reviews of classic kidlit. Many thanks!

Gina

Becky said...

Lovely post, Gina. I saw the mention at A Chair, A Fireplace, etc too, and am so glad I did.

I mentioned your blog and new classics feature in a post today,

http://farmschoolathome.blogspot.com/2007/04/classic-childrens-literature-revisited.html