The hope that this is another Little Britches dies a-borning -- but those who like quiet, homespun novels, may find this sincere, unpretentious, pleasant reading of a boy and his family in rural Missouri between the two wars. The father, a Baptist minister, has died, and the mother is determined to hold her little brood of five together without taking Charity. Little Mule, the youngest, has at four earned his nickname by answering anything that displeases him with a kick. It takes two years-span of the story- to turn him from a stealing, high-tempered baby into a not-quite credible paragon ready to take on the job of cotton field plowing to help earn the family's way. Despite a cyclone, a tear-jerking Christmas, a serious accident to the eldest son, and the mother's being done out of her husband's life insurance, this book does not have the kick of a mule- not even a ""little mule"".