Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Lyddie by Katherine Paterson

Lyddie by Katherine Paterson.  Puffin Books, 1995.

Lyddie is the story of a young girl during the 1800s.  Her father has left their Vermont farm to seek his fortune and her mother has lost touch with reality.  Lyddie eventually makes her way to Lowell, Massachusetts where she becomes a "Factory Girl." 

About 10 years ago I worked as a tour guide at a local historic site similar to the Mill or factory that Lyddie works in.  School groups often referred to the book during my tours so I thought it would be a good read aloud with my children before our own tour of Slater Mill.

After reading half of the book with my children I decided to finish it alone.  I'm glad I did!! 

Spoiler Alert:

About half way through the book Lyddie has an unasked for "encounter" with her boss.  Then towards the end she rescues her friend from a similar encounter and is fired from her job.  The boss's intentions are implied so younger children (like my own) are not likely to understand what is going on. 

BUT.  I have to wonder why people continue to believe tweens need to be exposed to this type of evil in the books they read.  I have no doubt that the book is historically accurate.  And I don't think we should re-write history.  However, I do think it's ok to omit some details until a child is mentally and emotionally mature enough to process them.

I did appreciate other aspects of 19th century life that were included.  Lyddie's family is poor and hard work is necessary for survival.  The details of Mill life are accurate and very informative for a study on that time period or before touring a historic mill.

I recommend this book for ages 14 and up.

1 comment:

Mrs. David Hankins said...

Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I am weeding through books that I have picked up here and there at book sales. I had grabbed this title since several of the author's books are recommended in homeschool catalogs. I think we'll pass this book along. Thanks again for your honest review!

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