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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Book Review: Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

TITLE: Caddie Woodlawn
SERIES: Caddie Woodlawn, Book #1
AUTHOR: Carol Ryrie Brink 
PUBLISHER: Aladdin
PUBLICATION DATE: December 26, 2006 (first published 1935)
FORMAT: Paperback, 288 pages
GENRE: Historical Fiction, Juvenile Fiction, Classics
ISBN: 9781416940289
Caddie Woodlawn is a real adventurer. She'd rather hunt than sew and plow than bake, and tries to beat her brother's dares every chance she gets. Caddie is friends with Indians, who scare most of the neighbors -- neighbors who, like her mother and sisters, don't understand her at all. Caddie is brave, and her story is special because it's based on the life and memories of Carol Ryrie Brink's grandmother, the real Caddie Woodlawn. Her spirit and sense of fun have made this book a classic that readers have taken to their hearts for more than seventy years.

MY REVIEW:

I read this historical fiction classic aloud to my children. It takes place in 1864 during the pioneer days, and it won the 1936 Newbery Medal.

Caddie is 11 years old, and she is a tomboy who feels more comfortable roughhousing with her brothers (Tom, age 13 and Warren, age 9) than cooking and sewing with her sisters. Interestingly, the adventurous children in the Woodlawn family were the red-headed ones, and the dark-haired ones were more proper. The family moved from Boston to Wisconsin, and both Caddie and her sister, Mary, were frail and weak. After little Mary died, Father begged Mother to let him try an experiment with Caddie because he was desperate not to lose another child. He wanted Caddie to be allowed to play in the sunshine because he believed it would restore her health. He didn't want her to be keep indoors being raised as a proper young lady. He was right. Caddie thrived, and she was the apple of her father's eye.

Across the Menomonie River, there lived a local Native American tribe. Caddie struck up a friendship with the Chief, whom the kids called Indian John, and the natives were fascinated with the red-haired children. They did not mind when the kids crossed the river to come for a visit.

A rumour runs rampant among the white settlers that the natives are planning a massacre, which was what happened two years before when the Minnesota Natives killed over one thousand white settlers. Because of this, most of the settlers are apprehensive about the natives. Father does not believe that the rumour is true because he trusts the honour of Indian John and his tribe. The settlers are afraid, and they band together so that they can be united in the event that a massacre does occur. Father assures his neighbours that there is nothing to fear, but he still invites them to stay at the Woodlawn farm. Caddie overhears some of the men discussing the situation, and they want to take the offensive position and attack the natives instead of waiting to see what will happen. She is horrified, and she feels she must go and warn Indian John before it is too late.

Wow, what a fantastic story! Caddie is such an excellent role model for young girls. She is courageous, thoughtful, and fiercely loyal to those she loves. She refuses to be swayed by the opinions of others, and she is not afraid to be the one in the crowd who is different. She stands up for what she believes in, even when she is in the minority. She has more character than many adults.

We loved this book, and I highly recommend it! We have already bought the companion story, Caddie Woodlawn's Family. 

MY RATING:


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