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Winding Oak's Bookology Magazine

Tag Archives | Little Women

Going to Camp

Mother Daughter Book CampAs summer begins, it’s possible there is no more ubiquitous experience for American children than summer camp. Whether it’s a day camp or a sleepaway camp, an art or music camp, a Girl Scout or church camp, there are some things that most camps have in common: the outdoors, getting along with other kids and counselors, and new experiences.

Or, as Heather Vogel Frederick writes in her latest Mother-Daughter Book Club book, Mother-Daughter Book Camp, the motto of Camp Lovejoy is “Broadening Horizons for Over a Century.” Girls are encouraged to stretch outside their comfort zones.

When the subject of summer camp comes up among my friends, the discussion turns to crafts learned (macaroni-adorned something), songs sung, injuries sustained, family weekends, and unforgettable counselors.

Mother-Daughter Book Camp captures this experience with spot-on details, the emotions of being away at camp (remember that feeling of homesickness? who were these strangers? how would you make it through [however long you were slated to be there]? how could you ever leave?), the food, the one most memorable experience, and those wonderful friendships.

Mother Daughter Book Club Series

I’m a big fan of this series of books which began with The Mother-Daughter Book Club, continued with Much Ado about Anne, and continued through to the recent, seventh book, Mother-Daughter Book Camp. We’ve grown to care about these five girls, Emma (the most dedicated reader and writer), Jess (the farm girl and musician), Becca (first a bully, then a friend, highly organized, quilter), Megan (fashionista, blogger, whose mother is obsessed with green and healthy living), and Cassidy (sports, sports, and great love of family). Their mothers are familiar, too, because of Book Club meetings and trips they’ve taken. There are even grandmothers within these stories. I love it when all of the generations are drawn into the story, don’t you? These are five girls who for the most part didn’t know each other before the book club began—and now they’re forever friends.

In each part of the series, the book club discusses a classic book, from Little Women to Anne of Green Gables to the Betsy-Tacy books to the book featured in Mother-Daughter Book Camp, Understood Betsy by Dorothy Canfield Fisher. The book club shares Fun Facts about the book and the author and so, of course, readers are drawn inevitably to reading the featured book—how can curiosity not engender this result? And the book club is woven skillfully into the larger story, which provides plenty of laughs, a lot of gasps of surprise, and heartwarming tears.

I’ve come to care about these girls, their families, their boyfriends. Each of them is heading off to a different college after being counselors at Camp Lovejoy. The series is done with book seven but I know they’ll stay in touch. Their lives are intertwined. I’m going to miss knowing what happens next.

Heather Vogel Frederick has written characters so vivid that I expect them to walk through my front door, plop down on the couch, and tell me all about their lives. I wish they would.

These books are that good. I highly recommend them for fourth grade readers and older. The characters are in sixth grade when their book club is formed. We watch them grow up, graduate from high school, and spend a special summer together at camp before they head off to the rest of their lives.

I’m grateful that their stories are a part of my life.


Boys and Girls of Bookland

Boys and Girls of BooklandThis is how book collecting goes. You see something that piques your curiosity. You wonder: “Why did this book get published?” “Who would have bought this book?” “On whose shelves did this book rest and why did they let it go?” “Was it a gift, never opened, or was it cherished and read over and over again?”

Sometimes you’re curious about the text or the illustrations or the binding or the publisher.

When I first began collecting books, satisfying my curiosity was hit or miss. I would go to the library and look up some of the things I wondered about in the Reader’s Guide to Periodical Literature or in the card catalogue (I know I’m dating myself, but that’s the point). Usually, I had to keep wondering.

Book collecting today is entirely different. Many of the antiquarian bookstores I frequented are gone because it became too expensive to maintain a physical store. They sell on the internet where one entirely misses the smell and randomness and happy accidents of book collecting. And yet I have access to used bookstores across the country. One comes to appreciate the buyers in these stores, their particular tastes.

A couple of my favorites? Cattermole 20th Century Children’s Books in Ohio. The Hermitage Bookshop in Denver.  Old Children’s Books in Oregon. Do you have a favorite? Please share in the comments.

Sometime last year, I purchased Boys and Girls of Bookland from Bob Topp at The Hermitage Bookshop. I did this because it was illustrated by Jessie Wilcox Smith and I hadn’t ever heard of the book. I admire Miss Smith’s work a lot. And I admire the story of her life.

David Copperfield and His Mother

David Copperfield and His Mother by Jessie Wilcox Smith

Nora Archibald Smith

Nora Archibald Smith

The book is written by Nora Archibald Smith. I’d never heard of her before. Because of the internet, I quickly discovered she was Kate Douglas Wiggin’s sister. You remember Ms. Wiggin: Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. I also learned that the two sisters were instrumental in founding the Kindergarten movement in San Francisco in 1873. They wrote 15 books together. I’ll have to hunt for more about this author.

The book’s copyright is with the Cosmopolitan Book Corporation which, with a little digging, I learned was owned by William Randolph Hearst. Why would he publish this book?

David MacKay

David MacKay

The publisher of this book is David MacKay. I learned that he was born in Scotland in 1860. He immigrated to the USA in 1871, when he was 11. At age 13, he started working for J.B. Lippincott, learning the bookselling trade. A rival publisher, Rees Welsh, offered him a job. During his tenure, he published Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass before he was 21, even though the attorney-general of Massachusetts didn’t want it published for its “alleged immorality.” At age 22, MacKay opened his own publishing company, eponymously named. Will I be able to find out more about him?

You see, the author wrote roughly nine pages each about famous books such as Little Women, The Jungle Book, David Copperfield, Jackanapes, and more. They’re summaries of the stories, hoping you will read the full book. I guess you could say they’re lengthy booktalks in writing. And Jessie Wilcox Smith did a painting for each story in full color. What an interesting format. Were other books like this published?

I even searched online to find the name of the woman who was given this book as a gift, Susan Class House, from Uncle Thad and Auntie “B” Lawrence. I would like to know more about their lives.

There are often objects inside a book. This one did not disappoint. I found a plastic bookmark, a Yahtzee® scorecard with a 1996 copyright date, and a “Thank you!” card from Bob Topp.


Book collecting isn’t just buying a book to read the story. It’s about discovering the stories that swirl around the book.


Skinny Dip with Terri Evans

bk_EleanorParkWhat keeps you up at night?

Just about everything – I am a worrier and haven’t had eight straight hours of sleep in almost two years.

What is your proudest career moment?

There are two, both of which occurred in the past couple of years. The first began two years ago (as did my inability to sleep well) when the parents of a child involved in a summer reading program, on which my Library Media Specialists colleagues and I were collaborating, challenged the book we had chosen on the grounds that it contained graphic language and sex. The Parents Action League (one of eight groups in Minnesota that the Southern Poverty Law Center has deemed a hate group) got behind the challenge and made several demands—that the book be removed from all schools in the district, that the author not be allowed to visit our schools, and that the Library Media Specialists who chose the book be disciplined. The story went national. One of my proudest moments was when I spoke in front of our school board, along with two of my colleagues, in order to defend the book (the award-winning Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell). I am passionate about the freedom to read and the freedom of information—and providing my students with books in which they see themselves reflected, even if their lives aren’t pretty. This freedom also allows these students to look into the lives of others and develop empathy. Having the opportunity to express this passion, and eventually winning this battle (the committee charged with deciding the fate of the book voted unanimously to keep the book on the shelves in our schools), changed me forever. The following fall I was awarded the Lars Steltzner Intellectual Freedom Award. In addition, that year I was named a finalist for Minnesota Teacher of the Year. One of the most challenging times in my life was also one of the most rewarding.

In what Olympic sport would you like to win a gold medal?

Gymnastics or figure skating. In fifth grade my teacher told me I was clumsy. It would be a great “so there” moment!

What’s the first book you remember reading?

bk_Little-Women-book-cover-2As a child, my parents could not afford to buy me or my four siblings books, nor did we ever go to the library. I was not a reader. The summer between fourth and fifth grade, my family and I moved back to Minnesota from Michigan.  As a going-away gift, my friends gave me a copy of Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women. It was the first book that I ever owned and the first book I remember reading cover to cover. That was the beginning of my journey to becoming a reader. I treasure that memory and that book (which I keep in a safe spot and look at frequently).

What TV show can’t you turn off?

So You Think You Can Dance – reality competition shows, especially those that involve something artistic, are my guilty pleasure (Survivor, Dancing with the Stars, American Idol, America’s Next Top Model, Project Runway – I LOVE them all!)



Discussing the Books We’ve Loved: Déjà Vu

As I ready this article for publication, I am sitting in the coffee shop where I first met Heather Vogel Frederick, now a much-admired author of some of my favorite books. I still enjoy getting caught up in a series, accepting the likeable and not-so-likeable characters as my new-found circle of friends, anticipating the treat […]


Alongside the Books We’ve Loved: Venom and the River

This week, join me as we continue to look at books that orbit the constellations of children’s series books much-loved by adults: Louisa May Alcott’s books, the Little House books, the Anne of Green Gables books, and Maud Hart Lovelace’s Betsy-Tacy books. A brand new novel, Venom on the River, is now available from my favorite […]