LITTLE WOMEN NEXT DOOR by Sheila Solomon Klass


Age Range: 8 - 12
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An engaging, warm-hearted historical novel about farm life, friendship, imagination, and what Transcendentalism looked like to a smart ten-year-old. Susan Wilson, whose mother died in labor, has grown up isolated, frail, and shy, with her harsh, distant farmer father and her stiff, but loving aunt. When Louisa May Alcott’s family, along with a few other “Consociates,” move, in 1843, onto a nearby farm, now rechristened Fruitlands, attempting to create a utopian community, Susan’s world expands. Quickly becoming the best friend of Louisa—also ten—she begins attending classes taught by Louisa’s father, Bronson, and is soon a part of their community, despite her father’s misgivings. Engaged by learning, playing, and having adventures with Louisa and the other children, Susan blossoms, growing strong and curious, overcoming a debilitating stammer. Grudgingly coming to like his odd, idealistic neighbors, Susan’s father tries to help them with their farming, but their principled, impractical decisions, such as rejecting the use of plow animals, leave Susan and her father shaking their heads. The farm fails in the first year, and the Alcotts move on, but Susan has grown, and her father thaws, coming to appreciate her intelligence and character. With a wonderful portrait of the bold, smart, dramatic Louisa, including a look at her “first book,” the novel will charm readers, whether or not familiar with Little Women; it’s also a fine, painless introduction to an influential and characteristically American religious movement. (Fiction. 8-12)

Pub Date: Oct. 15th, 2000
ISBN: 0-8234-1472-8
Page count: 144pp
Publisher: Holiday House
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15th, 2000


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