Title: Caddie Woodlawn
Author: Carol Ryrie Brink
Approximate Reading Level: 5th grade
--Caddie Woodlawn, 11-year-old pioneer
--Caddie's brothers and sisters: Clara and Tom (older); Warren and Hetty (younger)
When the Woodlawn family left Boston to travel west, they know the trip will be difficult, but the don't realize just how difficult. Caddie and Mary are young and weak, and Mary doesn't survive the trip. So, Mr. Woodlawn makes an agreement with Mrs. Woodlawn--she can have any other girls if only he can experiment with Caddie. Instead of keeping Caddie inside learning to cook, clean, sew, and all the other things "proper" girls learned in the late 1800's, he wants to allow Caddie to run with her brothers to get fresh air and exercise to help her grow strong and healthy. The book follows one year of Caddie's adventures as a tomboy with brothers Tom and Warren. And there are plenty of adventures (and trouble) for three young children to get into. Towards the end of the book, Caddie begins to wonder if perhaps being a young lady won't be so bad.
This book was written by Caddie's grandaughter, who based the book on her grandmother's stories, but added a few adventures to help further the plot. There are a few words and spellings that show the time period the story took place that may make it difficult ("to-night" and "dast," for example), but most readers should be able to determine meaning from context. I enjoy historical fiction, and this book is one of my favorites since I discovered it in my Children's Literature class. The book is not overtly Christian and teaching salvation as some other books I have reviewed, but still has good morals.
**** 4 stars