Little Britches: Father and I Were Ranchers
story of character building
It is 1906, and eight-year-old Ralph MoodyÃ¢ÂÂs family is getting ready to move. They live in East Rochester, NH, and RalphÃ¢ÂÂs father Charles works in the woolen mills, but it isnÃ¢ÂÂt good for his lungs. Cousin Phil, who lives in Denver, CO, visits and convinces Father that ranching in Colorado would be better for his health. So Father, Mother, Grace, Muriel, Philip, Hal, and Ralph rent a ranch on the Fort Logan-Morrison road, near Littleton, CO, not far from Denver. This autobiographical book chronicles their first year which involves settling on the ranch, meeting neighbors, planting crops, raising animals, going to school, experiencing a huge wind storm,and fighting over irrigation rights. Ralph, who becomes known as Ã¢ÂÂLittle Britches,Ã¢ÂÂ learns how to be a cowboy and even participates in a rodeo, but will the ranch be successful? Will the family even survive?
This series of books has long been recommended by homeschoolers as the Ã¢ÂÂLittle House for Boys.Ã¢ÂÂ First, there are some negatives, one of which is language issues. One source says, Ã¢ÂÂBe aware, however, that there is some inappropriate language used Ã¢ÂÂ no doubt in keeping with the actual verbiage of rugged cowboys and characters of the time.Ã¢ÂÂ Another source says, Ã¢ÂÂan excellent read-aloud selection (which will allow you to filter out the smattering of Ã¢ÂÂcussÃ¢ÂÂ words that occur, and which Moody himself wasnÃ¢ÂÂt allowed to use as a lad).Ã¢ÂÂ And still another source says, Ã¢ÂÂA customer pointed out that there are a few undesirable words used to watch out for.Ã¢ÂÂ Also, several who have read the entire series have noted that the later books, especially after Ralph goes to live with his grandfather in The Fields of Home, are not as good as the earlier ones which detail his childhood because they are more Ã¢ÂÂdarkÃ¢ÂÂ with lots of bad attitudes which are displayed over and over.
However, there are also some strong positives. Little Britches is rich in the values of family unity, honesty, inventiveness, earning othersÃ¢ÂÂ trust, and satisfaction in a job well done. And there is great emphasis on character development. Ralph gets in several predicaments and doesnÃ¢ÂÂt always make the right choices, but he learns to do better by heeding hisfatherÃ¢ÂÂs wise advice, who said, Ã¢ÂÂAny man who says the world owes him a living is dishonest. The same God that made you and me made this earth. And He planned it so that it would yield every single thing that the people on it need. But He was careful to plan it so that it would only yield up its wealth in exchange for the labor of man. Any man who tries to share in that wealth without contributing the work of his brain or his hands is dishonest.Ã¢ÂÂ Amen! What an important lesson that is so needed today! The seven sequels are Man of the Family, The Home Ranch, Mary Emma and Company, The Fields of Home, Shaking the Nickel Bush, The Dry Divide, and Horse of a Different Color.
August 25, 2012
My son recommended the "Little Britches" series to me; and I'm hooked! They are a continuing saga of a boy attempting to be a man early in his life, after the untimely death of his father. He works hard to help provide for his mother and five other siblings.
Based on the real life of the author, the scene is 1910 America. I think of it as a male version of Little House on the Prairie. It's exciting, dramatic, endearing, and inspiring. I recommend reading it together as a family (although I can't wait for the next chapter, so I read it on my own too).
March 30, 2012
This book is very interesting. It holds your interest through out the entire book. My one complaint was some of the language.
May 4, 2011
Great action book; early 1900 values/consequences:
This is an autobiography, and Ralph Moody's first book. He wrote it from his own point of view, starting as an eight year old child moving from NH to a ranch in CO.
Times were different back in the early 1900, Teachers often looked the other way as boys had to "settle" issues between themselves.
The mother does decide after attending church near Fort Logan, to curtail attendance at church, resorting to holding bible sessions over the kitchen table for her family. This decision was based entirely on some new language skills gained from some of the local boys, and demonstrated by Ralph's brother Phillip after the family's first attendance at the local church.
True the autobiography does show aspects of the 1900 that aren't in keeping with values we aspire to now. I doubt in 2110 that a look back at our current lives will find us meeting all future standards.
I first read the books with my oldest son, and again and again, with countless others (beyond my own children), we use the differences in culture as TEACHABLE moments.
Each time I feel blessed to read Ralph's father description of his "character house." Ralph's father is a man of few words, whose council becomes valued quickly in the families new community. He is sought out and a found to be a man with laudable skills.
Obviously, I'm a big fan of the books. And highly encourage you to experience it and share the series with your own children.
November 7, 2010