THE YOUNGEST by Marjorie Thayer


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An appealing recreation of being nine in 1917 that opens with a bang: Margie, at large on Christmas day with the older females all busy in the kitchen, lines up her dolls and shoots them with her new BB gun. There's nothing vicious about Margie's behavior; she simply needs a target and never much cared for dolls anyway. Thus engaged by the determined little girl, readers will go on to sympathize with her frustrations on being the youngest. She's crushed to find no place card for her at 17-year-old Mary Ann's birthday dinner party, but is easily appeased when her sisters assure her that she'll be quite grown up as soon as she acquires ""two numbers"" to her age. That rash promise comes home to roost when Margie finally turns ten and demands her own sit-down dinner party. This time, an understanding talk from her mother helps her see that ""growing up is something you do step by step, riot in one big jump."" And when Margie concludes that her friends probably wouldn't like a sit-down dinner very well (she and neighbor Donald spend most of their time playing war in trenches they've dug), she's rewarded with ""Don't you see? The very fact that you know this shows that you're growing up after all."" Between these episodes we see Margie riding along in the Hudson Super-Six as 15-year-old Francie goes ""fishing for a date""; ""table-tipping"" at a bedroom seance with Francie and Mary Ann, who ask the Spirit about their boyfriends; writing to war hero Lieutenant Breckenridge Dangerfield, whom she made up but half believes in; and getting lost in nearby Los Angeles when Uncle Henry takes all the girls to the opera house and a six-year-old cousin Margie's stuck with can't keep up with the crowd. But it's clear by then that Margie is never one to be left behind.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1982
Publisher: Dodd, Mead