HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: At the Little Brown House
Author: Ruth Alberta Brown
Illustrator: Angela Tuite
Publisher: PrairieViewPress, revised edition published in 1996
Related website: http://www.PrairieViewPress.com (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 9-13
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Brown, Ruth Alberta. At the Little Brown House (originally published in 1913 by Saalfield Publishing Company, Chicago, IL; revised edition published in 1996 by PrairieView Press, P. O. Box. 88, Neche, ND 58265). Peace Greenfield lives in the little brown house outside the village of Parker near the city of Martindale with her invalid mother, older sisters Gail, Faith, Hope, and Cherry (Charity), baby sister Allee, and their old dog Towzer. Their father, a minister in nearby Pendennis until he became ill and bought the farm, is now in heaven. A neighbor boy, Mike O’Hara, does some work around the farm. Then the dear, gentle mother also dies. Eighteen-year-old Gail fights against poverty and discouragement as she tries to keep the family together. They make a living by growing vegetables, gathering flowers, and baking cakes.
Then Peace unintentionally gets the family in trouble with a neighbor who happens to hold the mortgage to the farm, and he vows to get even. Who will take in six orphans if they lose the little brown house? And who is that strange tramp that keeps dropping by? Ruth Alberta Brown MacArthur, using her maiden name, wrote children’s books in the early twentieth century. Her stories include the Tabitha series (Tabitha at Ivy Hall, Tabitha’s Glory, Tabitha’s Vacation), and a couple of sequels to At the Little Brown House, one entitled The Lilac Lady in which the girls are adopted into a new home and must adjust to a new school and neighborhood, and the other Heart of Gold in which Peace tries to reach a ball wedged in a hollow on the roof, her foot slips, she falls with a crash from the roof, and playmates assume that she is dead.
At the Little Brown House is a happy reminder of the days when children’s books were expected to illustrate good character traits and teach important lessons rather than just showing how hard, cold, and cruel the world is. Those books didn’t ignore the fact that the world can be hard, cold, and cruel, but instead of creating doubt and despair they showed that there is still good in the world and that proper solutions to problems can be found, especially for those who trust God. I must admit that sometimes Peace’s attitude, especially her temper, annoyed me a little and tried my patience. But the predicaments which she caused were usually done innocently, and she had a good heart, repented of her misdeeds, and learned from her mistakes. The Greenfields’ best friends were the new minister, his wife, and their baby boy. Also, a lot of emphasis is placed on praying and looking to God for help and guidance.