Sonia Reppe's Reviews > Little Heathens: Hard Times and High Spirits on an Iowa Farm During the Great Depression

Little Heathens by Mildred Armstrong Kalish
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Jan 01, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: memoir-about-a-girl, midwest

This IS like listening to your grandma (or that old lady in the Titanic movie) telling in a gentle, slow-cadenced voice, about the old days. Some topics covered are thrift, medicine, chores, farm food, gathering wood, and wash day. The book starts off entertaining, but like Grandma (or Grandpa) it gets long-winded; and you start to feel bored and restless and wonder how much more you are willing to sit through before you make the move for your coat. You might decide that next time she repeats "waste not, want not," you'll head for the door. But if you stick with this book through the dragging middle, you get to the best parts, the chapters called "animal tales," "raccoons and other critters," and "Me." She tells how they (the kids in her family) tamed raccoons; the raccoons slept in bed with them! The middle drags partly because she describes such obsolete practices and circumstances that it's hard to picture what she's talking about. Like their oat shocking procedure, the mechanics of their laundy routine, and the parts of a windmill. Parts of these sections read like how-to manuals, including how to prepare various meals. Her chapter called "Me" is the best, as it has the most human interest, telling about her place in the family and community and how she eventually left, had a job in New York City, went to college, jointed the coast guard and got married, etc. What is ridiculous is that she puts this chapter as an epilogue! Like, she's so modest that she can't have a place in the body of the book, it has to be tagged at the end? Like, Here's a tiny bit about little ol' me if you care to know...Yeah, thanks, that's why I picked up this book!
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Reading Progress

January 1, 2008 – Shelved
April 18, 2008 – Shelved as: memoir-about-a-girl
Started Reading
July 1, 2008 – Finished Reading
November 24, 2009 – Shelved as: midwest

Comments (showing 1-1 of 1) (1 new)

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drowningmermaid Thanks for this review. It gave me great hope as I was slogging through the recipes I'll never try and the farm equipment/practices I'll never use. The animal chapter toward the end was a good one.


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