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Calico Bush

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  2,271 Ratings  ·  80 Reviews
This heartwarming and enthralling classic is the story of a young girl who is left orphaned and alone shortly after her French family arrives in the New World. First published in 1931, this memorable story by a Newbery Award winneroffers a historically signiricant portrait of pioneer life in the eighteenth century. Illustrated.
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published March 31st 1987 by Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (first published 1931)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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May 08, 2011 Amy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: early-america
This is really for an older audience -- 6th grade or above. There is a scene where the main character (a girl of about 12 or 13) stumbles upon a place where people have been killed (burned, supposedly by Indians) and she finds a lock of a child's hair attached to a piece of scalp and a buckle from a child's shoe. There is also a scene where a baby dies after her clothes catch fire because she's gotten too close to the hearth. It is a well-written book, though, and true to the time.
Jul 30, 2012 Jill rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery-honor
A little scared when I realized this was written by the same woman who wrote Hitty, her first hundred years, which I forced myself to finish. I was pleasantly surprised to be reading an interesting story of pioneer life in Maine. The bonus was that I was vacationing in Maine at the time, and thinking of the things early settlers had to contend with illuminated my understanding of the area.

"It was only by the next afternoon that Marguerite could get her swollen feet into her shoes and limp as far
Nov 03, 2012 Jenny rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: children-s-books
Marguerite has been orphaned and is now a "Bound Out" girl to the Sargent family for the next 6 years. The Sargents are settling in a new area, an area where there has been trouble with the Indians. Neighbors (living on nearby islands) warn the Sargents not to settle there, but they have paid money for the claim and are determined to settle there.

This realistically portrayed the difficulty of life in the mid 1700's. Marguerite suffers from negative stereotyping because of her French background
Apr 27, 2009 Torie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
YA fiction about a 12-year-old French girl who is indentured to a pioneer family homesteading on the Maine coast. It's no "Little House," obviously, although it's chock full of offensive references to "Injuns." It's also no "Country of the Pointed Firs," though it is similarly evocative of the beauty of the wild Maine coast, just not as artful as Orne-Jewett. Despite its failings, I am a sucker for pioneer-themed YA and Calico Bush didn't disappoint in its descriptions of maple sugaring, log cab ...more
Steve Shilstone
In the 1740s, a family pioneers on the coast of Maine. Good middle grade novel with a well-drawn main character, the bonded servant Marguerite.
Melissa Namba
a good book but I can see why it didn't win the Newberry award. when it is interesting, it is very interesting, but when it is dry, you want to put the book down. it was hard for me to remember how young Maggie is throughout the book because compared to kids these days her maturity level is amazing. I enjoyed the sections that went over the relationships with the Indians and how Maggie was able to befriend one. you hey a touch of a romance between Maggie and caleb. nothing real overt and nothing ...more
Calico Bush by Rachel Field, illustrated by Allen Lewis is the story of 13 year old Marguerite Ledoux, an orphaned French girl, who travels to colonial Maine with the Sargent family as their bound-girl, where her courage and ability to withstand hardships becomes apparent. Lewis' wood engravings give an authentic feel to this historical novel.

Despite a text with several prejudicial references to "Injuns" and a rude comment about a cross-eyed person, which will offend modern sensibilities, Calico
First published in 1931, this book tells the story of Marguerite "Maggie" Ledoux, a 12-year-old French orphan who is bound-out to a Massachusetts family as they head up the coast to settle in Maine. The journey is difficult and though Marguerite is treated kindly, the Sargent family do not understand or like Marguerite's French ways and Marguerite feels like an outsider. when the family reaches the Maine coast, they learn of the hostilities between the Indians and the local settlers. Neighbors e ...more
Katie Fitzgerald
This review also appears on my blog, Read-at-Home Mom.

Calico Bush is the story of Marguerite, a French immigrant to the United States who is orphaned soon after her arrival. With no family to look after her, she becomes a bound out girl, contracted to the Sargent family for six years. As the Sargents work to settle their homestead in the Maine wilderness, under threat of violence from local American Indians, Marguerite, called Maggie, does her best to blend into the family and be of use to them,
A good story of the happenings and heartbreaks of a family who, in 1743, move from the colony of Massachusetts to the wild Maine coast, told from the viewpoint of a 12yo French girl, Marguerite. Marguerite is orphaned and living with her grandmother and uncle, but when they die soon after coming to the New World, she is left with no other option but to be bound to this family who will provide her with life's necessities in exchange for her labor until she turns eighteen.

All in all, I think this
May 16, 2012 Heather rated it really liked it
An excellent book that follows Marguerite (Maggie), a "Bound-Out" girl from France, through 2 years with the Sargent's (the family she's serving). The book starts with the family's journey from the settled port of Marblehead to wild lands along the northern coast of Maine. The experiences of Marguerite are described so well it almost seems that you are there. An excellent read for children and adults alike.

Calico BushCalico Bush was a Newbery Honor Book, a Junior Library Guild Selection, and was
This book was a favorite when I was growing up, yet I eventually forgot the title. I always associated it with "The Witch of Blackbird Pond" since the storylines are similar - and I probably first read them around the same time. I tried several times to search for it online, but couldn't remember the author or title. I finally found it a few weeks ago by searching online lists of "If you liked The Witch of Blackbird Pond" and then reading a synopsis of any title I didn't recognize. The title "Ca ...more
Monica Fastenau
Read the full review here:

The main character of this book, Maggie, gives the reader a window into early colonial life, complete with all its hardships. You’ll read about indentured servants, harsh weather, illness, death, and conflict with Native Americans (remember that this book was written in 1932, and thus has all the insensitivity you would expect from a book of that time). Although I don’t remember being traumatized by this book as a child, it is de
Aug 14, 2013 Michiel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: girls who like Laura Ingalls
Recommended to Michiel by: goodreads
I was pre-reading this book to see if it would fit into my son's homeschool curriculum this year. I ended up deciding not: it was a little slow moving and advanced for him. However, I really enjoyed it myself.

Marguerite is orphaned on her way to America from France. This is early in our country's history. She becomes an indentured servant by necessity, and is bound out to a family who settles in Maine back when it was a wilderness.

The story is divided by the seasons of the year. Maggie, as she i
I enjoyed some of this--the quiet, joyous, and brave tone and the moments of danger. Other parts I didn't like, such as superstitious things like thanking a tree so it will continue to grow and the countless prayers, as if said over a rosary (Marguerite's background was French Catholic) The Bible says: "But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking." (Matthew 6:7)

It could have been much worse overall, like focusing
May 24, 2013 SamZ rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wasn't a huge fan of Maggie's story. I found myself getting frustrated at how she was treated and how passive she seemed about the situation. I still don't understand or agree with her final decision, but I guess that makes the story for a lot of people.
I really enjoyed the Christmas scene with the Indian and the way Maggie was willing to make friends with those around her. I loved her relationship with the old neighbor lady, which was what kept me reading. Other than those parts, however, I
Lily C
Nov 09, 2013 Lily C rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
The book Calico Bush was about a young girl named Maggie who had to live with another family because she had no family left. The Sargent family, who took her in, was a rather large family. They settled on an island in Maine and had to face Indians. There could be an attack at any time. Maggie was always watching the young children, weaving clothing, or cooking dinner. There was never a moment of rest. Could she be the best addition to the Sargent family? The author, Rachel Field, did a wonderful ...more
Courtney Bell
Dec 30, 2012 Courtney Bell rated it really liked it
This is a sweet book that displays humble love and grace from a French bound-out girl toward the family who now owns her. Maggie gives her new "family" beautiful sacrifice and hard work in the midst of sadness over the loss of her uncle, grandmother, and country, even though her owners treat her more like a dirty animal than a human being. The story takes place in the 18th century in Northern Maine over the span of four seasons. Maggie time and again shows grit in difficult situations, opening t ...more
Marcy Wynhoff
In my path of reading old Newberry silver and golds, Julia gave me this. It was a little slow getting into and had to work with the injun stuff, but it was a wonderful book with historical immigration, prejudices, all weaving through i, and as wekk the history of the calico bush leading to calico prints. Loved it a lot. Got quite attached to the main character and the strength of women during these times.
Patricia O'Sullivan
For those who are saying Calico Bush is a good follow-up to The Witch of Blackbird Pond, I have to disagree. The Witch of Blackbird Pond is a far superior novel. Calico Bush lacks the tension of TWBP. Other than saving some domesticated animals from drowning, Maggie doesn't do much in the first quarter of the book. In addition, the historical details are too heavily delivered, as if the author is giving a history lesson rather than telling a story.
Aug 31, 2016 Lisa rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: Sonlight Homeschool Curriculum
In 1743 Marguerite Ledoux, a Bound-out, 12-year-old girl from France, goes to live as a nanny on the frontier in Maine with her pioneer master and mistress, and their large family. As the British and French are fighting at this time, the family distrusts this young French woman with her French accent and catholic ways, but she proves her courage and intelligence on several occasions, and they come to love and respect her.
This book is about a young French girl who becomes an orphan during the French Revolutionary War and is sent to Maine to work as an indentured servant. I liked it, but I thought it was a little difficult to read because of the dialect. But it is interesting because it depicts how life may have been like during the early years of the United States. I would recommend this book for late elementary.
Aug 16, 2012 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book starts off when a 12-year old girl who has just lost the only family she had is "bound" to a family with a bunch of kids that are headed to the New World. The story gets the most interesting as you learn of the struggles and triumphs of this family as they start their new life. I enjoyed this story.
Thomas Bell
This is a boring book about a girl who is bored and wants to go back to France. With about 15 pages left in the book it gets a little more exciting, and at the end the girl decides that she is excited about her life after all and chooses not to go back. How touching. I was bored out of my mind almost the entire time reading this.
Penny Burkeen
Jan 05, 2015 Penny Burkeen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book to my girls, ages 9 and 8. I honestly enjoyed this book. My girls said they had a hard time keeping track of the characters and all of their mishaps. They did day that they liked the book and enjoyed the ending. I found Marguerite to be a thoroughly wonderful girl, with a true pioneer spirit.
May 31, 2009 Julie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a Newberry Honor book that tells about a girl who came to America before the Revolution and was immediately orphaned. She binds herself to a frontier family as a servant and proves to be a plucky, intelligent survivor. This was a fabulous novel about a period and setting in our countries history about which I knew little. I highly recommend it.
1932 Newbery Honor Book

Marguerite is a French girl who becomes a "bound-out" girl to a family of American colonists. Arriving in America, they discover that their house has burned down and there are rumors of Indians in the area. Maggie (as she is called) helps her family survive despite the odds.
Sep 09, 2012 Nicola rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: historical, own, childrens
I really enjoyed this one. I loved Marguerite as a character, it must have been a strange life being a bound out girl. It was interesting reading about what life was like for people at the time, I can't imagine living so apart from other people. I appreciated that it didn't shy away from hardships, like what happens to Debby (which was really sad :[)

Louise Leonard
Aug 08, 2013 Louise Leonard rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An absolutely beautiful book. Just the kind of strong and good woman we want our daughters to be. Yes they hate Indians, but that is completely accurate for 1743, the setting of this book. We are so spoiled today; we need to remember and be thankful for all our ancestors of all colors did to survive.
Nov 25, 2011 Kristen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: newbery-honor, 2014
I am amazed that the same person who wrote Hitty, wrote this.

Marguerite emigrates with her uncle and grandma from France in the early 1700's. They immediately die, leaving her alone in the New World. She becomes an indentured servant and moves to Maine where the family she serves builds a cabin and worries about Indian attacks.

The story is really fairly i teresting and well done.
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Rachel Lyman Field was an American novelist, poet, and author of children's fiction. She is best known for her Newbery Medal–winning novel for young adults, Hitty, Her First Hundred Years, published in 1929.

As a child Field contributed to the St. Nicholas Magazine and was educated at Radcliffe College. Her book, Prayer for a Child, was a recipient of the Caldecott Medal for its illustrations by El
More about Rachel Field...

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