Book Review: Caddie Woodlawn

CADDIE WOODLAWN 2I have been very interested to re-read all those books that I called my “favorite” when I was younger. Caddie Woodlawn, I’m sure, was the title written on many school days infographic sheets that I filled in, along with The Wheel on the School and A Wrinkle in Time. I have had the bizarre pleasure of reading all three of those titles in 2018, for one reason or another. The other two I have already reviewed.

I didn’t remember a whole lot about this book from when I was a kid. Turns out, the best description is one I saw several other places: it’s Little House on the Prairie, but Laura has more spunk. She’s a tomboy. I also had not remembered that the book is based on a real person and their stories: the grandmother of Carol Ryrie Brink, the author. This made the read much more interesting to me, since I enjoy history and figured that added authenticity to the pioneer-Wisconsin setting. Caddie is an interesting little girl and she does make a great hostess into our foray into the olden days.

There’s really not much to say. The writing is straight-forward, without frills but also without many flaws. You get the story, you get what’s going on and where you are. Character development is on the level of elementary school readers, and the story is really meant for them, from beginning to end. There’s not a ton of suspense, but there is plenty of learning to do. My son actually saw the small twist at the end coming from about halfway through the book. But it’s not the point of the book. The point is to meet Caddie and to transported to a different place and time in history.

As with most writing from other times, there are some awkward moments. Mostly, Caddie and her family are more understanding of the Native Americans around them than other pioneers, but there are still things that would not be considered PC today. These things are more understated than in some books, but it still helps if you are reading aloud. If you are not, it just opens a door for discussion, right?

I recommend this book, especially for elementary aged kids who are reading chapter books and who 1) are spunky gals, 2) enjoy pioneer literature ala Little House on the Prairie, or 3) are open to discovering new types of literature that they might like.

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