1936: Caddie Woodlawn

VERDICT: Treasure

Sally’s Rating: 4/5

Carol Ryrie Brink’s Caddie Woodlawn follows the adventures of a young red-headed girl in the Wisconsin countryside in the 1800’s.

Caddie has a mind of her own. In fact, her characterization lights up every page of the book, whether she is facing her fears, learning the harsh lessons of life, or enjoying playing pranks on others. It was refreshing to read a Newbery book where the heroine was allowed to change and grow with every new situation that she got involved with. And Caddie herself is not an angel all the time; she constantly gets into trouble, which makes her seem more relatable and human. The fantastic characterization pays off when Caddie finally realizes that she must grow up and be an active part of her family. She is a heroine that other girls can look up to, with her free spiritedness and courage to say and do what she wants.

The interactions between all of the characters were fun to read. The book kept a very fast pace and took you through a roller coaster of emotions. Caddie experienced the distraught of losing a dog, the brave decision of alerting the Indians to an attack, the awkwardness of hoping (yet not hoping) someone sent her a Valentine card, and the outrageousness and humor of her family’s stories.

Caddie Woodlawn ultimately asks the question: what makes a home? As Caddie grows throughout the book, she begins to understand the responsibility and duty one has to family. Amongst her comradery with her brothers, her deep respect for her father, and distain for her ladylike sisters, Caddie must discover her place in the world.

As a child, the freedom of frontier life always appealed to me. Caddie Woodlawn, reminiscent of The Little House on the Prairie, offers readers the chance to see the world in a completely new way. Filled with humor and heart, this book is recommended for both children and adults alike.

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