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Posts Tagged ‘Summer Reading’

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink

Some of my favorite summer reading memories involve Carol Ryrie Brink’s classic Caddie Woodlawn.  I loved this book so much I remember being really sad when the publishers redesigned it and eliminated the classic Trina Schart Hyman cover, seen here:

Hyman captured the personality of the vivacious, strong-willed, brave, and just a bit reckless, Caddie.  With her flowing hair and one strap slipping off her shoulder – Hyman’s Caddie is the one I think of when I remember these stories.  Thankfully the publishers have retained the pen and ink sketches within the text so you won’t have to settle for the image of Caddie as portrayed on the current cover.  Anyway, I passed countless summer hours reading and rereading the adventures of Caddie and her brothers.  The Woodlawns lived on the edge of the American frontier and this provided ample opportunity for Caddie to exercise her free spirit.  A tom-boy at heart she resists the domestic realm in favor of the wide open spaces of the prairie, the dangers of rushing rivers, even the unfamiliarity of an Indian camp.  Brink based these stories on the recollections of her grandmother, the original Caddie Woodlawn, and captures the spirit of an age of adventure, hardship, and courage.  When I finished Caddie Woodlawn the first time, I promptly reread it, I really hated for the stories to end.  I remember being thrilled to discover the sequel, Caddie Woodlawn’s Family, at the library and proceeded to devour it.

Caddie Woodlawn’s Family

These are summer classics – books that transport you to another time and place and make you wish you could stay. Wonderful to have on hand to give to a bored child who needs a bit of an escape.

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Yesterday my husband and I travelled from Edinburgh to upstate New York to spend a week with his family.  Upon picking up our rental car and driving the hour and a half to our final destination I managed to navigate the vast expanses of satellite radio to find the Diane Rehm show was doing a 50 year anniversary special on one of my all-time favorite books, To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee.  If interested, you can listen to the program on their website, here.  It has been about six months since I’ve been in the States and there could have been no better or more fitting program to listen to as I made the slow adjustment back.  To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the greatest works of American fiction and has sold over 30 million copies since its publication in 1960.  Its themes are both distinctly American and universal making it a book that strikes at the very core of who we are as human beings.  Scout’s precocious nature and questioning of the injustice she cannot comprehend as a child have caused countless readers to examine their own prejudices and assumptions.  Atticus Fitch, the great literary embodiment of integrity, makes us all want to be more just and courageous and kind.  Although I’ve read this book multiple times before it is on my list of must-reads this summer – it is its 50th birthday afterall!  A wonderful read-aloud, this is a book that must be shared and discussed.  Follow up your reading with a viewing of the classic movie adaptation starring Gregory Peck, playing what, in my opinion, was his greatest role.  What do you like best about To Kill a Mockingbird?

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