4 Stars Out Of 5
story of character building
August 25, 2012
Wayne S. Walker
It is 1906, and eight-year-old Ralph Moody's family is getting ready to move. They live in East Rochester, NH, and Ralph's father Charles works in the woolen mills, but it isn't 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 "Little Britches," 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 "Little House for Boys." First, there are some negatives, one of which is language issues. One source says, "Be aware, however, that there is some inappropriate language used - no doubt in keeping with the actual verbiage of rugged cowboys and characters of the time." Another source says, "an excellent read-aloud selection (which will allow you to filter out the smattering of â€˜cuss' words that occur, and which Moody himself wasn't allowed to use as a lad)." And still another source says, "A customer pointed out that there are a few undesirable words used to watch out for." 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 "dark" 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 others' trust, and satisfaction in a job well done. And there is great emphasis on character development. Ralph gets in several predicaments and doesn't always make the right choices, but he learns to do better by heeding hisfather's wise advice, who said, "Any 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." 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.