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Caddie Woodlawn

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Caddie Woodlawn is a real adventurer. She'd rather hunt than sew and plow than bake, and tries to beat her brother's dares every chance she gets. Caddie is friends with Indians, who scare most of the neighbors -- neighbors who, like her mother and sisters, don't understand her at all.

Caddie is brave, and her story is special because it's based on the life and memories of Carol Ryrie Brink's grandmother, the real Caddie Woodlawn. Her spirit and sense of fun have made this book a classic that readers have taken to their hearts for more than seventy years.

288 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1935

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About the author

Carol Ryrie Brink

44 books136 followers
Born Caroline Ryrie, American author of over 30 juvenile and adult books. Her novel Caddie Woodlawn won the 1936 Newbery Medal.

Brink was orphaned by age 8 and raised by her maternal grandmother, the model for Caddie Woodlawn. She started writing for her school newspapers and continued that in college. She attended the University of Idaho for three years before transferring to the University of California in 1917, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 1918, the same year she married.

Anything Can Happen on the River, Brink's first novel, was published in 1934. She was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Letters from the University of Idaho in 1965. Brink Hall, which houses the UI English Department and faculty offices, is named in her honor. The children's section of the Moscow, ID Carnegie public library is also named after her.

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Profile Image for Miranda Reads.
1,589 reviews154k followers
December 9, 2020
2.5 stars

Disappointing and yet marginally charming.
How far I've come! I'm the same girl and yet not the same. I wonder if it's always like that?
Caddie Woodlawn, a fiery redhead growing up in Wisconsin in the 1800s, has always been a tom boy.

Her mother is at her wits end but her father enjoys his daughter's plucky spirit and propensity for mishaps.

Caddie, for one, enjoys her life as it is - snowball fights and hunting and adventuring with her brothers.

But all good things have to come to an end, and Caddie's childhood is one of those things.

The older she gets, the less she is allowed to adventure out into the woods and the more she pushes back.
But every redhead's temper has its limitations.
Ultimately, this book was....a bit boring and largely disappointing.

I am a huge fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her Little House series - so much that I reread it about once a year.

Caddie Woodlawn has much of the same premise, but without the same charm.

She does have fun adventures - like visiting the nearby Indians or playing pranks on her cousins - but those all felt like sparsely connect vignettes.

And the only theme to weave them altogether was her mother (and society) pushing Caddie closer and closer to traditional womanhood.
A woman's work is something fine and noble to grow up to, and it is just as important as a man's.
Even Caddie's father, who championed his daughter's rights to live a happy and healthy childhood, decides to backtrack and make her into a perfect little maiden.
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!
OR MAYBE , Mr. Woodlawn, we could teach these men to pick up after themselves and clean the kitchen once in a while.

Why crush Caddie's independence and freedom all because the dishes are dirty.

So what if she doesn't fit the mold of a serene and dutiful future wife?

I didn't hate the entire book,
just the message that the author was trying to push onto the audience.

The author spent so much time building Caddie's character up, only to squish all that development back into the "period-appropriate-lady" box.

Very frustrating.

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Author 4 books580 followers
September 6, 2015
Reading this in your forties while you're also reading Lies My Teacher Told Me is very different from reading it when you're ten years old. Although even then, I remember cringing a bit.

Because on the one hand, Caddie Woodlawn is all kinds of awesome. She's a redhead roaming wild in the woods of western Wisconsin, and you won't catch her sewing a seam or polishing the furniture when she could be climbing a tree or plowing a field.

On the other hand, this is Wisconsin in 1864. "Pioneer days," as the book calls them. And that's some problematic territory.

Eleven-year-old Caddie and her brothers start off their adventures crossing a river, though they haven't a boat and can't swim. They're just that unstoppable.

But here's their idea of idle conversation:

"Do you think the Indians around here would ever get mad and massacre folks like they did up north?" wondered Warren.

Warren is quickly reassured by his brother:

"No, sir," said Tom, "not these Indians!"

"Not Indian John, anyhow," said Caddie.

Later on in the book, the white people in this little Wisconsin town freak out because they think the Indians are going to rise up and murder the whites in the night. Because that's what Indians do.

Only two years before, the Indians of Minnesota had killed a thousand white people, burning their houses and destroying their crops. The town of New Ulm had been almost entirely destroyed. Other smaller uprisings throughout the Northwest flared up from time to time, and only a breath of rumor was needed to throw the settlers of Wisconsin into a panic of apprehension.

Caddie's father says it's all nonsense and tavern rumors.

"I am willing to stake my farm, and a good deal that I hold dear besides, on the honor and friendliness of the Indians hereabouts."

So as a child, I absorbed the following lessons:

1. Indians randomly committed massacres against white "settlers."

2. There were individual exceptions, so Indians like Caddie's friend "Indian John" were okay.

3. But in general, there was no telling what kind of violence might occur and when the Indians might decide to engage in an "uprising."

Now, I was cognizant enough to cringe later in the book when Caddie kindly buys some presents for three little boys whose mother is a kindly Indian and whose father is a lazy white jerk. Some of the presents are red handkerchiefs:

The little Hankinsons were speechless with delight. The red was like music to their half-savage eyes.

That's enough to make even a dumb suburban white kid flinch.

But the rest of it? This was a novel, true, but it was based on the author's own family's experiences, just as Laura Ingalls Wilder's books are fiction based on fact.

So the conclusion I drew was that, yes, Indians had been really scary and it wasn't much of a wonder that the whites hadn't gotten along with them. Even the nice ones, like Indian John and the Hankinson kids' mother, just couldn't assimilate quickly enough to the new dominant culture, or be nice enough to convince the whites they meant no harm; so in spite of plenty of good intentions on both sides, they faded away and disappeared.

I never learned much history in school; but in general, I thought I knew what I hadn't learned. That is, I didn't know much about, say, American government, or the War of 1812; but I knew they were there.

I didn't know anything at all about the Indian wars, and I didn't know there was anything to know about them because they weren't even introduced as a concept. Wars were something white people fought against other white people – the Americans against the British, the British against the French, the Germans against pretty much everybody else.

Indians and white people clashed, sure. And the whites were pretty rude to just come on over to the Americas like there wasn't even anybody already living here. (My teachers did get that much right, though they were pretty soft on the details.)

But wars?

So when I read that bit about the massacre in Minnesota in Caddie Woodlawn, I took it at its word. And to be fair, the book is not all about those awesome whites and the bad Indians they're up against. Whites are often viciously violent themselves:

Sometimes, leaving the women and children at home, the men went out to attack the Indians, preferring to strike first rather than be scalped in their beds later. The fear spread like a disease, nourished on rumors and race hatred. For many years now the whites had lived at peace with the Indians of western Wisconsin, but so great was this disease of fear that even a tavern rumor could spread it like an epidemic throughout the country.

Okay. But the "massacre" of New Ulm wasn't a random spate of violence. It was, as I only learned when I reread Caddie and did some Googling, part of what is variously known as the Dakota War of 1862 and the Sioux Uprising. It was triggered by – what a surprise – treaty violations on the part of the U.S. government, and corruption in the Bureau of Indian affairs. I'm way oversimplifying, but after months of attempted negotiations on the part of the Dakota led to nothing better than broken promises and famine, war erupted. Not random massacres because that's just what those Indians do: war.

In the last half of 1862, the U.S. government was fighting not one war, but two.

Nobody taught me that.

Caddie Woodlawn is a beautifully written book, but like Gone With The Wind, it perpetuates some deeply harmful myths.

By all means, read this book. It's important and, when it's not talking about Indians, often hilariously funny and deeply touching.

But please also read the chapter "Red Eyes" in James Loewen's Lies My Teacher Told Me, so you can get the whole story. Read about what's wrong with the author of Caddie Woodlawn describing Wisconsin as a "wilderness" and the white settlers as "pioneers," and why it didn't matter how good "good Indians" like Indian John were.

I'll end with this paragraph from that book:

The overall story line most American history textbooks tell about American Indians is this: We tried to Europeanize them; they wouldn't or couldn't do it; so we dispossessed them. While more sympathetic than the account in earlier textbooks, this account falls into the trap of repeating as history the propaganda used by policy makers in the nineteenth century as a rationale for removal – that Native Americans stood in the way of progress. The only real difference is the tone. Back when white Americans were doing the dispossessing, justifications were shrill. They denounced Native cultures as primitive, savage, and nomadic. Often writers invoked the hand or blessings of God, said to favor those who "did more" with the land. Now that the dispossessing is done, our histories since 1980 can see more virtue in the conquered cultures. But they still pictured American Indians as tragically different, unable or unwilling to acculturate. The trouble is, it wasn't like that.
Profile Image for Quirkyreader.
1,505 reviews43 followers
February 18, 2018
This book was a re-read and a visit back to my childhood. I think the first time I read this was when I was reading all of the "Little House On The Prairie" series since it took place in the same area.

This is the story about a young girl who has to make her own place in the world. And her place is Wisconsin. She had many trials of growing up in this story. So in a sense this book is a Bildungsroman story.

I am glad that I took the time to revisit one of my favourite childhood stories.
Profile Image for Amy.
1,504 reviews6 followers
May 31, 2007
Mrs. Klatt, my 5th grade teacher, read this book to us and then we went to visit where Caddie lived (about 30 miles south of where I grew up). I loved the Little House books, but to me, I WAS Caddie. She was a bit older and more aware of what was happening around her. If you want to read about a pioneer gal who lived in western Wisconsin and was as fiesty as her red hair, read this book. You can go see and walk through Caddie's house. It's a rest area south of Downsville, Wisconsin. I try and get there every couple of years and swing through the logging museum in Downsville. Caddie was a real person (story was written by her granddaughter), and there was definitely a part of her still alive in a redheaded girl who lived on the other side of the county in the 1980s.
Profile Image for Luisa Knight.
2,727 reviews683 followers
January 7, 2021

Children's Bad Words
Mild Obscenities & Substitutions - 24 Incidents: golly, bully, good land, gollee-Christmas, crickety
Name Calling - 7 Incidents: big-mouthed scared-cats, whippersnapper, tattletale, baby, rascal
Scatological Terms - 6 Incidents: bl**dy (as in lots of blood)
Religious Profanity - 9 Incidents: God knows, Heaven knows, mercy's sake, goodness knows, upon my word, great sakes, faith, bless my soul

Romance Related - 8 Incidents: A man fell in love with a woman. They were secretly married and when the man told his father, he was disowned. One of the brothers likes a girl at school. It is never romantically mentioned, more a show of friendship, but is scattered throughout the book. The only “romantic” thing he does is give her an anonymous Valentine on Valentine’s Day at school. The girl who received the anonymous Valentine tells the boy that gave it to her that she knew it was from him. A girl goes on about all the handsome men in England that will want to dance with you and how maybe she’ll switch her preference of a Boston clergy to an English lord. ‘“If you mean that you’ve given up your Boston clergyman,” said Tom bluntly, “you needn’t count on me, Annabelle. I’ve got my girl all picked.”’ Children take all of their clothes off to jump in the river. Bosom - not sexual. Breast - not sexual.

Attitudes/Disobedience - 3 Incidents: A little sister is a tattle-tale but at the end of the book learns when and when not to speak. “It took a good deal to around Caddie from her good nature, but every red-head’s temper has its limitations, and Caddie’s had been reached." Two brothers come to school, not to learn, but to bait the teacher. A fight breaks out and everyone learns a lesson.

Conversation Topics - 9 Incidents: A little girl doesn’t like the thought of being a young lady, with their prissy ways, having to be proper and always staying in doors, and her father is supportive of her playing outdoors with her brothers. This causes some concern to the mother and the parents see things slightly different. (The little girl’s attitude towards being a lady is mentioned a handful of times throughout the book, but ends with the father explaining to the daughter what it really means to be a lady - “to teach them gentleness and courtesy and love and kindness” etc. so then she looks forward to it). Mentions a pipe. Mentions Santa Claus. A tobacco jar is mentioned. Mentions a tavern and drinking a couple of times throughout. A man is ashamed of his Indian wife (for racial reasons) and sends her back to her own people. She leaves her sons with him. Mentions fairies and witches in a song that is being song. Children relate to a sick child all that has happened while she’s been in bed: “They piled on all the lively details they could remember or invent.” Children play several tricks on their cousin from the city. The mother acts unjustly - saying the brothers won’t get in trouble - just the sister since she wasn’t acting like a lady (the mother was embarrassed). The girl is sent to her room and plans to run away but her father speaks to her about the situation. (Later you find out the father punished the brothers too).

Parent Takeaway
A book about a loving family during the 1860's. Three of the siblings do everything together and are very close-knit, but they learn to include the young children as they grow up. Good morals throughout, and the few instances of bad behavior are addressed.

**Like my reviews? Then you should follow me! Because I have hundreds more just like this one. With each review, I provide a Cleanliness Report, mentioning any objectionable content I come across so that parents and/or conscientious readers (like me) can determine beforehand whether they want to read a book or not. Content surprises are super annoying, especially when you’re 100+ pages in, so here’s my attempt to help you avoid that!

So Follow or Friend me here on GoodReads! You’ll see my updates as I’m reading and know which books I’m liking and what I’m not finishing and why. You’ll also be able to utilize my library for looking up titles to see whether the book you’re thinking about reading next has any objectionable content or not. From swear words, to romance, to bad attitudes (in children’s books), I cover it all!
350 reviews2 followers
September 29, 2021
literally read this in less than a day it was THAT GOOOOD.
and YES, I already started rereading it, thanks for asking 😂
reread Sept 2021: I looove Caddie and her two brothers. The best trio ever.
Profile Image for Kathryn.
4,181 reviews
August 24, 2014
This was my first time reading the novel as an adult and I loved it all the more for all the sense of fun and adventure I so enjoyed as a child, and found a deeper appreciation of so many more elements—such as Father and Mother’s relationship (I had tears in my eyes at the end of the chapter, Pigeons or Peacocks?) and Mr. Woodlawn’s wonderfully unorthodox parenting style with Caddie (and Mrs. Woodlawn’s trust in him in allowing this to happen), letting her “run wild with the boys” to regain her health (this reminded me of a bit of Uncle Alec’s treatment for Rose from Louisa May Alcott’s “Eight Cousins” books) and the respect that they show the children, especially with a life-changing decision that must be made toward the end of the book. I also had deeper insights into the settler/Native American relations reading the book from an adult standpoint, more on this later.

What stands out to me most is the sense of joy and love and togetherness in the Woodlawn family. Also, Caddie’s beautifully multi-faceted nature, wild and brave and adventurous yet also kind and feeling and introspective. She is definitely a “kindred spirit”—if Anne Shirley was a pioneer girl, she might have been a lot like Caddie (maybe the red hair helped me shape this comparison, haha!) The Wisconsin frontier also shines memorably; amazing how a book written in 1935, about life in the 1860s, can bring the beauty and feeling of that long ago so vibrantly into our 21st century imaginations.

It seems that comparisons between Caddie Woodlawn and “The Little House” series by Laura Ingalls Wilder are inevitable; a quote from Jim Trelease trumpets on the back cover of my book, “You take The Little House on the Prairie; I’ll take Caddie Woodlawn…” though I don’t really see why there must be a contest. Perhaps it’s because both books were written in the 1930s, about a spirited young girl growing up on the frontier—and Caddie and Laura were roughly contemporaries, though about a decade separates their childhoods and the Woodlawns lived a less isolated and more prosperous life. Personally, I love both books, because of the spunky-but-sensitive protagonists, the loving family life, the fascinating glimpse into the frontier lifestyle, and the timeless storytelling. I suppose the biggest difference is in how the books handle the Native American presence. For the Woodlawn family, Indian John is a friend, and his tribe a peaceful presence. Mr. Woodlawn gained their trust and friendship when he came to run the mill on their lands and Caddie has a special place in her heart for Indian John and his dog, and Indian John watches out for her. It is quite refreshing to see this relationship in a book of that period. In contrast, Native Americans are viewed as a distant “other” in Little House on the Prairie and, while Pa seems a bit more trusting, Ma is terrified of them. And yet, the Native Americans are still referred to as “redskins” a few times in Caddie Woodlawn, and there is a bit of a patronizing air at times. Both books are well worth reading and discussing. We see that, even though these people lived long ago, their feelings, their complexity, and their humanity, is not so different from ours. I am happy to live in a world where both Caddie Woodlawn and the Little House series can hold a cherished place on my bookshelf.
Profile Image for Jen.
260 reviews1 follower
March 12, 2011
I read this over a period of about 4 months. I'm not sure I've ever taken that long to read a book. But I was reading it with a 6-year-old, a chapter at a time, sometimes one chapter a week, sometimes none.

I cried more than a few times while reading: a dog is lost, a reformed bully saves the day, the family makes a great sacrifice for the happiness of Father Woodlawn. Each time, my little reading friend would turn around and smile at me and wipe away my tears. I tend to cry freely when I read and especially when I'm reading aloud.

Caddie Woodlawn is so much like Little House on the Prairie that I think it might be easier to compare/contrast with that other well-known children's story than to create an entirely new report on the story of Caddie Woodlawn.

How Caddie Woodlawn is like Little House on the Prairie:

Caddie and Laura are both:
tomboys and daddy's girls
free spirits
the younger sisters of "little lady" older sisters

Both stories are about frontier families: Caddie Woodlawn is based on stories Carol Ryrie Brink's grandmother (Caddie Woodhouse) told her of life growing up on the prairie.

The food, the clothing, the stories of day-to-day life have the same feel. Are we sure Caddie and Laura weren't neighbors?

There are a lot of encounters with Native Americans in these two books. It's strange and sad to think how recent the American pioneer days were. I can't help but wonder how things would have been different if the spirit of adventure had not been so polluted by a spirit of entitlement.

How Caddie Woodlawn is unlike Little House:

Caddie has two brothers. Laura does not. This, I think, provides the avenue for Caddie to experience more mischief and adventure than Laura ever did. Then again, Laura's family experienced enough adventure together to more than make up for the lack of brothers.

Caddie's family does not move around like Laura's does. They live in a much more settled community and are close to town.

The Woodlawns have a lot of visitors: the circuit rider (traveling preacher), an Uncle, a hoity-toity cousin from Boston. The Ingalls always seemed much more isolated. Visitors were few and far-between.

The Woodlawns live in Wisconsin, which is where Little House in the Big Woods is set, if I remember correctly. The bulk of Laura Ingalls Wilder's story takes place further west, so Caddie's story doesn't feel quite as wild or wide-open as Laura's does.

There aren't nearly as many savory descriptions of food in Caddie Woodlawn, which has always been one of my favorite parts of the Little House books.

Caddie Woodlawn won the Newbery Medal. None of the Little House books ever did. Such a shame.
Profile Image for Sarah Grace Grzy.
629 reviews826 followers
February 7, 2018
This book will always speak of home, comfort and happiness to me. I've read it multiple times growing up, and now reading it again now that I'm older, it is just as lovely.

I love Brink's writing style, and her characters are just wonderful. I especially loved Caddie's relationship with her father. Reminds me of my relationship with my father. <3 And of course, Tom, Warren, Hetty, etc all help make up this exceptional book.
Profile Image for Malbadeen.
613 reviews7 followers
February 17, 2010
I would give this book 5 stars based on 1 chapter alone.
This chapter is Mark Twain hilarious mixed with Flannery O'Connor morbid.

In this chapter the eldest boy tells a story he's made up to amuse his younger siblings while they do chores. The story starts with a farmer accidentally killing his wife then tricking passer-byer that he'd in fact killed the farmers wife by punching her and her subsequent falling into a near by lake and drowning. HA-HA-HA! right? seriously it gets more absurd and hilarious as further trickeries, deaths and suicides unravel.

My Kids (age 6 and 10) and I were laughing so hard, I had to pause several times to catch my breath or exclaim, "that's terrible" before we went on.

Another chapter had me in tears (the sad kind this time) as a story of brutally honest prejudice unraveled.

The entire book had a lovely ebb and flow of sad and silly that felt like real childhood. Hard truths being seen for the first and utter fun at others, even if the time period doesn't match the emotions certainly seemed to.

p.s. damn I love my kids and I hope that the picture of the three of us reading that one chapter and laughing will never be erased from my mind! Sarah, please commit this to memory and re-tell it to me frequently when you visit me at the old folks home - would ya?

Profile Image for Ivy Miranda.
64 reviews41 followers
March 22, 2021
One of my all time favorite childhood books growing up. Caddie Woodlawn is inspired by the life of Carol Ryrie Brink's grandmother. Caddie Woodlawn is a simple story about an all American girl with a patriotic spirit that stretches far beyond her rural Wisconsin home.

In 1864, Carolina Augusta Woodlawn or just Caddie, was not your ordinary conventional girl. While her sisters spend their time sewing and baking, Caddie would rather hunt, swim, socialize with Indians and anything that doesn't require her to be a lady. Caddie's mother wrings her hands in despair, but her father encourages his once sickly daughter to run wild with her brothers, believing she will one day come into her own.

Caddie's many adventures include hunting with her uncle, almost drowning, getting into fights in school, falling into the ice and catching a cold, learning to mend clocks, helping three motherless boys, an Indian massacre (scare), saving her community and...her cousin from Boston. Along the way, Caddie begins to uncover secrets of her father's past and soon his former life will change the Woodlawn family forever.

I have no idea how many times I've read this book! I've loved this story for years and it's absolutely timeless. Caddie is a sweet and endearing heroine. Certainly not without her flaws, but she has a heart that gives entirely to those who truly need it. While at times she lacks common sense, she is clever and inventive and always willing to take a risk.

The Woodlawn family add a great deal to the story as well. Caddie's relationship with her two brothers is paramount to her growing up and differs very much from her relationship with her sisters. Her mother, while strict and every inch a lady, knows of her daughter's potential not as a lady maybe, but as an influential young woman. And finally Caddie's father who supports his daughter in her life choices and future decisions.

I think every young girl should read this book at some point in their life. Like Little House on The Prairie and Anne of Green Gables , Caddie Woodlawn is a simple, but comical and lively portrait of a young girl, the family she loved, and her journey from girlhood into womanhood.
February 1, 2021
FIVE STARS HANDS DOWN. “You take Little house on the Prairie. I’ll take Caddie Woodlawn”. SAME HERE!! IF U HAVNT READ THIS BOOK I HONESTLY FEEL BAD FOR YOU. I’m not going to spoil it for you but you haaave to read it. 😍🤩⭐️👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻👍🏻
Profile Image for Elizabeth.
244 reviews14 followers
May 20, 2018
4.5 stars. (Originally I was going to put it at either 3.5 or 4, but I really liked the last few chapters.)

I actually hadn’t heard of this book until I found it at a library sale over a year ago. It was sitting on my shelf all that time...but I’ve read it now so yay!

Caddie Woodlawn is a tomboy. She doesn’t want to be a lady if that means all frills and no fun. Throughout this book we follow Caddie and her siblings on their adventures and mishaps, while getting a looks at what pioneer life was like. In the end Caddie learns valuable life lessons and begins to understand growing up isn’t as bad as she thought it would be.

There were a few very small things that bothered me. Overall it did not take away my enjoyment of the book.
I didn’t like how the half native american half white children were called “Half Breeds”. I know and understand that it was a very common phrase back then, I just don’t like it.
Semi spoiler i think, but it’s very small:
Caddie had a younger sister who died when her parents first moved out their. She is mentioned a few times, but I didn’t like when the book said “No one missed her now”. I understand the point it was trying to make, that it has been years and they have already mourned, but that doesn’t mean that nobody misses her. I am pretty sure that the mother misses her everyday, but probably doesn’t show it.

Overall I Enjoyed the book a lot. If you like Little House on the Prairie and Haven’t read this, give it a read. It’s quiet different than Little House but similar in some ways. It’s nice seeing different perspectives.

Favorite Quotes: “A whole silver dollar for Valentines!’ cried Caddie, her thrifty soul sincerely shocked.” (Same, Caddie. Same.)

(Sorry for any typos, If I see them I’ll fix them later.)
Profile Image for Kameron.
115 reviews
August 6, 2011
Charming story! I just fell in love with the Woodlawn family, their hard work ethics, family values and trust in the Lord. It was so special to know that the author was writing about her own grandmother. The illustrations by Trina Schart Hyman were just breathtaking - I plan to seek out more of her work.

Some of my favorite quotes from the book:
"She loved both spring and fall. At the turning of the year things seemed to stir in her that were lost sight of in the commonplace stretches of winter and summer." (page 204)

"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 damming rivers. It takes nerve and courage and patience, but good women have those things. They have them just as much as the men who build bridges and carve roads through the wilderness. A woman's work is someting fine and noble to grow up to, and it is just as important as a man's. But no man could ever do it so well. 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." (Caddie's father spoke these words on page 244)
Profile Image for Book Concierge.
2,733 reviews327 followers
October 16, 2016
This Newbery Award winner tells the story of Caddie Woodlawn, age about 12, in 1864 Wisconsin, growing up on a farm with her six brothers and sisters, and her two parents.

Brink based the novel (and a sequel) on the stories her grandmother told about living in Western Wisconsin during the time of the Civil War. The family is tight-knit and the children have many adventures, including exploring the river and woods near their homestead, and visiting the local tribe of Native Americans (“Indian John” being a particular friend). Caddie is a courageous, intelligent and resourceful girl, but she IS a child and sometimes the pranks and adventures she engages in go awry leading to some real dangers. She is a bit of a tom boy, spending more time with her brothers than with an older sister or her mother, but she is faced with the inevitability of “growing up” and becoming more ladylike.

The story reminds me a bit of Laura Ingalls Wilders’ “Little House” books, and that is definitely a good comparison. The book was originally published in 1935 and the way the Native Americans are portrayed is indicative of the times when it was written. But don’t let that dissuade you; it should open the door for good discussion with your children. Definitely a book worth adding to your children’s library.
Profile Image for Libby.
80 reviews76 followers
March 22, 2008
This is one of the books I read on long, delicious afternoons in San Diego in the summers of my childhood. My Bobe and Zade and I would walk to the library and pick out a pile of books, stopping at Thrifty's on the way home for nickel scoops of ice cream (my favorite: rainbow sherbet). I can't even think of this book without feeling a rush of immense love for my grandparents.

One day when my Bobe had first moved to Minnesota (sometime in the late '50s) and she was trying to be a dutiful faculty wife, attending functions, she met Carol Ryrie Brink at some sort of party (I think her husband was also a mathematician at the University). My Bobe's first thought was "What's she doing here?" (Bobe missed the sunshine and comparative sophistication of Los Angeles.) Then she began gushing. Embarrassed, she apologized to Ms. Brink, who said, "Do you see anyone else here fawning all over me? Continue!"
Profile Image for Wendy.
951 reviews138 followers
September 26, 2008
I saved this for the last of the Newberys (yes! I'm done!) because I was sure I would like it, and I wanted to go out on a good note.

I did like it, though I know I would have liked it a lot more if I hadn't already read so many similar, better books (i.e. Little House). But I can appreciate how rare it was to find interesting, funny books about real children at the time this was written. Still, I'm sort of surprised that so many of you love this so much.

Hard to believe it's by the same author as the hilarious FAMILY SABBATICAL... I did love the thing about their mother serving them turkey all year long.

The chapter where Caddie spends her silver dollar on the "half-breed" children is dreadful, but whatever.
Profile Image for Rebekah.
268 reviews78 followers
July 11, 2021
This book reminded me of a mix between Little House on the Prairie and Anne of Green Gables... It's a wonder I never read this one growing up! I'm glad to have read it now... and look forward to reading it again with my children someday.
Profile Image for M.M. Strawberry Library & Reviews.
4,028 reviews329 followers
February 3, 2020
Another book that I read a long time ago. I wish I remembered more details from the books I read as a kid, but I do remember several details. It's like traveling back in a time machine, reading this book, not just because of the frontier setting and harsher realities of life back then, but Caddie's own struggles because of her gender and the expectations foisted on girls as they became women (an expectation that still carries a lot of weight in many parts of the world even today)
Profile Image for Amy.
453 reviews16 followers
December 2, 2019
Often compared to the Little House books, Caddie Woodlawn is different enough to make it interesting. Caddie's family seems more settled, for one thing, and maybe they struggle less than the Ingalls family did. She has a bigger family that includes brothers. This story is about the adventures of the children in the family and doesn't focus so much on explaining in great detail the everyday things the family did as the Little House books do (threshing, slaughtering, making cheese).

Based on the true story of Ms Brink's grandmother, this book was awarded the Newbery in 1936.
Profile Image for Ensiform.
1,337 reviews134 followers
July 27, 2011
Winner of the 1936 Newbery, this book centers on the tomboy of the title, the middle girl in a pioneer family of seven children in the open plains of 1860s Wisconsin. Strongly evocative of the Laura Ingalls Wilder books, it's a wide-eyed, child's view of American pioneer life. The Indians are friendly, primitive, and highly mistrusted by the whites. The Civil War is far away; in one of the bits possibly most surprising to those who think of America as a classless society, Mr. Woodlawn has paid someone to go in his place. The oldest students in the one-room schoolhouse put out a prairie fire. A dainty Boston cousin is quickly appraised of the realities of country life. Caddie has several highly risky adventures, but no one makes much of them, because "pioneer children were always having mishaps, but they were expected to know how to use their heads in emergencies."

Like most of the Newbery winners, this book is an open door to another time and place; the culture and attitudes of the pioneers, both open-minded and otherwise, are put plain. Readers get a grasp of a simpler but harder era as the Woodlawn children sing, read, explore, work, and play tricks. Caddie is a very sympathetic heroine, who is kind and selfless and does just what she pleases, even if she wonders a bit who she really is and what kind of person she'll grow into, as all children do. A very deserving award winner.
Profile Image for Hope.
1,284 reviews86 followers
August 9, 2022
Caddie Woodlawn is a sweet coming-of-age story that takes place in the 1860s. Because she was a sickly baby, her father recommends that she get plenty of exercise and sunshine playing outdoors rather than staying at home to learn domestic duties. She and brothers have wonderful adventures, but as time goes on she must decide how to balance her wildness with her femaleness. Her father helps her to see that she can be true to her adventuresome spirit while at the same time developing womanly virtues. Certainly, a book that highlights the special contribution that women (with their unique qualities) make to society would not be published today, but I appreciated Brink's careful handling of this subject.

A good mix of tender and funny moments.
Profile Image for Katie Marie.
62 reviews13 followers
September 11, 2022
Caddie just may be the reason I’ve always wanted curly red headed children 🥰 This one is as good as every other time I’ve read it, but maybe even a little better as I read it to my nephews and niece for their first time and got to watch them love it as much as I did growing up. Hearing them say “just one more chapter” over and over made me so happy ☺️
Profile Image for allie.
147 reviews5 followers
February 19, 2009
The more I think about this book, the more I dislike it.
Profile Image for Gina.
19 reviews3 followers
October 11, 2019
I loved this book when I was ten and I love now as a 48 year old!
Profile Image for Sara.
564 reviews168 followers
February 14, 2014
Quality pioneer novel for young readers

Despite growing up in Wisconsin and loving pioneer stories, somehow I missed this book as a child. I wish that I had read it when I was younger, I am certain that I would have loved it more. The family life is good and warm and authentic. Caddie is a sweet and rough and rough and tough pioneer tomboy. I like her. I prefer this to Little House on the Prairie. I am certain that my children will love this one.
Profile Image for Hannah Reeves.
66 reviews16 followers
January 9, 2018
This is one of my very favorite books now. I laughed, I cried, I hugged the book when it ended. I can't wait to share it with Phoebe some day.
22 reviews2 followers
February 3, 2019
Such a wonderful story. Can’t wait to share it with my kids. It’s now One of my favorites. I related to Caddie and especially enjoyed her relationship with her father.
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