Wednesday, January 16, 2008


Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

Sunday, August 12, 2007

"Caddie Woodlawn" was far and away my favorite book when I was ten or eleven. I read it countless times. So it was great fun to rediscover the wonder of this well-told story for these two challenges. Written in 1935, the book is pleasantly old-fashioned with values we would be wise to hold onto in these days.
Since Caroline Augusta Woodlawn was so frail as a toddler, her father asked if he could raise her in a very unconventional manner for the 1860's. Caddie was allowed to run and play and work with her brothers, exposed to nature and all the wild things boys like to do. Her tomboyishness is a source of great embarassment to her mother and older sister, but, with regaining her health, Caddie is a well-adjusted pre-teen with a sense of humor, kindness, and integrity. Her antics and adventures make this story a true gem, especially because Caddie grew up to become a loving and accomplished woman who was the grandmother of the author. The book gives the reader a feel for life on the prairies of Wisconsin, with its remoteness from "civilised" society and the ever-present danger of an Indian uprising. But, mostly, it is the story of a family who lives, works and plays together. Not earth-shattering but comforting.
One quote illustrated to me how our memories of childhood are so vivid just like these memories became for Caddie: "One April afternoon she went by herself to gather flowers in the woods. The mourning doves had come back and they were making a little sad refrain through the singing of the pines. The buckets hung empty on the sugar maple trees, for the syrup season was ended. There were some new pines slashings that filled the air with perfume. Like the birch smoke and the smell of clover, the pine smell was a Wisconsin smell, and, because she loved them so, they were a part of Caddie Woodlawn."
Father's lesson to Caddie is one which helps her to begin thinking about the kind of woman she wants to be: "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 damning rivers. It takes nerve and courage and patience, but good women have those things.. . . I don't want you to be the silly, affected person with fine clothes and manners, 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."
At the end of the book, Caddie analyzes the previous year: Folks keep growing from one person into another all their lives, and life is just a lot of everyday adventures. Well, whatever life is, I like it."
Rating: 5
Posted by Framed at 6:43 PM

Booklogged said...
I wish I would have been a reader when I was younger. I feel like I've missed out on so many good books and trying to catch up now that I'm and old woman is hard. This is one that I'm definitely going to make an effort to read.
8/12/2007 8:24 PM
3M said...
I read this as an adult and loved it as
8/12/2007 9:04 PM
Candace Salima (LDS Nora Roberts) said...
Oh, Caddie Woodlawn was one of my favorite books as a child. In fact, I still have the copy my mother gave me all those years ago. Thanks for reviewing it today. It took me back.
8/13/2007 7:48 AM
Cassie said...
I remember finding this book in grandma's library and when you told me how it had been one of your favorites as a young girl, I had to read it right then. I loved it too.
8/13/2007 11:58 AM
Framed said...
I have an old copy of this book but I don't think Grandma does. I bought it when you were just a baby so you could read it someday.
8/14/2007 7:27 PM
Carrie said...
This was one of my favorites growing up also. Can't count the times that I read this. Your review makes me want to read it again!
8/18/2007 3:27 PM
Carrie K said...
That was one of my favorite books growing up too. I'll have to pick it up for a reread. Thanks for the review and the memories!

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