Fruitlands

Fruitlands

by Gloria Whelan
     
 

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We are all going to be made perfect . . .

In 1843, with all their possessions loaded onto a single wagon, ten-year-old Louisa May Alcott and her family bravely set out into the wilderness to make a new home for themselves on a farm called Fruitlands. Louisa's father has a dream of living a perfect, simple life. It won't be easy, but the family has vowed to

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Overview

We are all going to be made perfect . . .

In 1843, with all their possessions loaded onto a single wagon, ten-year-old Louisa May Alcott and her family bravely set out into the wilderness to make a new home for themselves on a farm called Fruitlands. Louisa's father has a dream of living a perfect, simple life. It won't be easy, but the family has vowed to uphold his high ideals.

In her diary -- one she shares with her parents -- Louisa records her efforts to become the girl her parents would like her to be. But in another, secret diary, she reveals the hardships of this new life, and pours out her real hopes and worries. Can Louisa live up to her father's expectations? Or will trying to be perfect tear the family apart?

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Louisa May Alcott fans will relish this fictionalized account of the Alcotts' stay at Fruitlands, a commune where Louisa's transcendentalist father and his friend, Mr. Lane, conducted their famous not-so-successful experiment in forming a perfect community. Whelan (Angel on the Square; Homeless Bird) structures the novel as two sets of journal entries based on Alcott's own childhood writings: "In the first diary there will be Louy, who will try to be just what Mother and Father would wish. In the second diary there will be Louisa, just as she is," a sentiment that will vindicate many an aspiring journal-keeper. The first-person narratives vividly capture Louisa's wit, feisty spirit and keen powers of observation. The entries intended to be shared with Mother and Father give an insightful overview of the commune, where naturalists gather to better themselves. They also reveal Louisa's ongoing struggle to meet the commune leaders' lofty expectations by denying herself small pleasures: "We are not to eat butter or rob hens of their eggs. I will do all that I can to curb my coarse appetites." The private pages, penned in the "leafy tent" of a willow tree, offer a more in-depth study of commune members' quirks and foibles, as well as a hilarious critique of others' success or failure in practicing what they preach. ("Mr. Lane is to teach us all how we are to improve ourselves. I watched him stride along behind the wagon, his head up, his chin out, proud of walking while others rode. He did not look like a man who thought he needed improvement"). This meticulously researched book reveals Whelan's depth of understanding and respect for Louisa May Alcott's outlook on life and relationships with others. A marvelous companion for the 19th-century author's semi-autobiographical Little Women. Ages 8-12. (Nov.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
School Library Journal
Gr 4-7-Readers meet 10-year-old Louisa May Alcott as she and her family leave Concord, MA, in 1843 to live at Fruitlands, a utopian community envisioned by her philosopher father. The story is told through two sets of journal entries. In one, Louy writes what her parents would want to read, knowing that they may actually look at her journal. The second is a secret diary, "and this one shall be my honest thoughts." This technique works well. Readers will understand what the community was hoping to accomplish and sense the inequity and frustrations of the austere life at Fruitlands. This same story was told in Jeannine Atkins's Becoming Little Women (Putnam, 2001) with more details about the year spent at Fruitlands, and with more character development. However, using journal entries based on Alcott's original diaries allows children to see into a strange and interesting experience that helped develop the character of one of America's most loved authors. While not as rich as Atkins's book, Fruitlands does tell the story well.-JoAnn Jonas, Chula Vista Public Library, San Diego, CA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Famous for the depiction of her family in Little Women, Louisa May Alcott had many more adventures only hinted at in her surviving childhood diaries. Based on some scant passages referring to her father’s dreams of living a pure and simple life, this tale is a fictional account of what life might have been like on the communal farm, Fruitlands. With friends like Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, Louisa’s life is never boring, but under her father’s ever-watchful eye, she must always be careful of her words and actions. Forced to go against her inquisitive nature, Louisa has an alternate, good persona, Louy. She decides, "In the first diary there will be Louy, who will try to be just what Mother and Father would wish. In the second diary there will be Louisa, just as she is." Side by side, the diary entries (the secret one in italics) offer a rich comparison of what Louy wants her parents to see and, more interestingly, what she is really thinking. Through Louisa’s words, readers will become familiar with the returning-to-nature movement that the writings of Thoreau and Emerson glorified. Unfortunately, instead of the idyllic life of harmony that they envisioned, the Alcott’s find frustration, dissention, and the possibility of starvation. Though readers must remember that this is all fiction, the result is a rich evocation of a fascinating experiment. (Fiction. 8-12)

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061975813
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
10/06/2009
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
128
File size:
0 MB
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

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