Littlejimby Gloria Houston, Thomas Allen, Thomas B. Allen
Littlejim wants his father's love and respect
more than anything.
Littlejim Houston is the best student in his rural North Carolina school and a tremendous help to his mother and sisters around the family's farm. But that's not good enough for Bigjim, Littlejim's father. He wants his son to cut timber, work in the fields, and hunt, just like he does.… See more details below
Littlejim wants his father's love and respect
more than anything.
Littlejim Houston is the best student in his rural North Carolina school and a tremendous help to his mother and sisters around the family's farm. But that's not good enough for Bigjim, Littlejim's father. He wants his son to cut timber, work in the fields, and hunt, just like he does. When Littlejim enters an essay contest on "What it means to be an American," he hopes to win. Maybe then Bigjim will approve. Set in Appalachia during World War I, this realistic story about family and small-town life introduces a boy young readers will remember for a long, long time.
Read an Excerpt
A new year had come to the Creek. The pale winter sun only touched its frosty waters during the middle part of each day. Soon after noonday dinner, the long shadows of the twin peaks the Indians had called the Spear Tops brought twilight to the glens and meadows in the narrow valley hidden deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains.
Each morning Littlejim stood on the porch of the log schoolhouse long before the sun had touched the roof shingles, his breath making smoke in the crisp, clear air. He listened as Mr. Osk, his thin, bespectacled teacher, made his weather forecast for the coming day.
"The twelve days of Christmas foretell the weather for the coming year," said his teacher. "Three days of snow. Then one of wind. Two of rain, then one milder with some sun. Now see the sun's rising for today. Looks like a good year. Early spring, good weather for crops. What with our boys off fighting the Kaiser and all, that'll be good news to everyone on the Creek."
"How do you know all these things?" asked Littlejim.
"It's in the almanac," said Mr. Osk. "Right there in the book. Bigjim's sure to have one. He always plants his crops by the signs."
"I'll ask Papa to let me look at his tonight," said the boy.
Littlejim remembered the thin volume, with Barker's Almanac written on the cover, which his father kept hidden behind the big clock on the mantle in the front room. He had watched down the narrow stairwell as Bigjim struggled to read it or the Star by lamplight, following the words with his fingers.Sometimes he had seen Mama stop her mending and offer to read aloud to her tall husband, but his papa always put the book away quickly.
Mr. Osk threw one gartered arm over Littlejim's shoulder and guided the boy into the dimly lighted room which buzzed with the sound of young voices. Littlejim knew that Mr. Osk was actually Mama's cousin, Oskar, but since he was the teacher, Mama had told both Littlejim and Nell in her lilting voice, "You vill call him by a term of respect. He is 'Mr. Osk' to you from now on. " So Mr. Osk he was to every student in the school, including Littlejim and his sister, Nell.
"Pupils. Pupils," Mr. Osk tapped his stick on the top of his desk set on a platform at the front of the room near the black iron stove. It was time for the day of classes to begin.
Soon Littlejim had finished his lessons. He had finished first and used the time to draw. He was trying to draw the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers with all the cities located in the Fertile Cresent from his geography book with the blue cover.
Then he changed his mind. Paper was too precious to waste, and this day Littlejim wanted to draw something very special. He wanted to draw his papa's big Percherons. Scott and Swain were as fine a matched team of horses as the Henson Creek folk had ever seen. Littlejim dreamed of the day he would be full grown, so he could be a logger and have a team just like Scott and Swain. Together he and Bigjim would cut and haul the big logs from up on Double Head to Uncle Bob's sawmill.
Bigjim was the finest logger on the Creek, and Littlejim was very proud of his father. But he knew that Scott and Swam could share part of the credit. Their huge legs and strong broad backs could snake the biggest chestnut logs out of a laurel thicket. Their strength was great enough to pull the pole wagon loaded with lumber from Uncle Bob's sawmill up the steepest hills on the River Road to the railroad station in Spruce Pine. When they were brushed and curried of a Sunday morning, they looked fine enough to pull the box wagon where Bigjim, Mama, Littlejim, Nell and Baby May rode all the way to Papa's church at the foot of the creek.
Littlejim was might nigh as proud of the big gray horses as his papa was. This day he wanted his drawing to be the one Mr. Osk displayed above the chalkboard as the best drawing of the week. That way every pupil in the school would know that his papa, Bigjim Houston, had the finest team ever seen in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina.
"What you drawing?" asked Ivor Vance, one of the older boys, over his shoulder. Ivor peeked around to see if Mr. Osk had heard him.
I'm drawing Scott and Swain, whispered Littlejim to the taller boy. "I wish I had some fancy colors. I could make them ever so pretty. What are you going to draw?"
I'm going to draw an autymobile," said Ivor. "My uncle says he's going to buy one."
"How you gonna do that?" said Littlejim. "You've never seen one!"
Well, I heard all about it when my daddy went to Spruce Pine to catch the train," boasted Ivor.
"What was it like?" asked Littlejim.
"It was like a wagon or a carriage,, so's my pa says, except no horses were pulling it," said Ivor.
"How can a wagon go without a team to pull it?" puzzled Littlejim.
"I don't know," said Ivor. "But my pa says it went down the road just as pretty as you please. And my uncle says he's going to buy one."
"Well, I want a team like Scott and Swain to pull my wagons when I grow up," said Littlejim. He lifted his paper to puff the erasings off the corner with his breath. He admired his work. Ivor scrunched up his mouth and closed one eye.
"You're mighty good with that pencil," said Ivor. "Mr. Osk is sure to put your picture up today." Then he crumpled his own drawing. He was better at figures, and he knew all the history dates by heart.
Littlejim squirmed. Praise from an older boy was rare, especially from Ivor, who was best at almost every activity at the one-room school. Littlejim tried not to be too proud.
Better not do that," said Littlejim. "Paper's scarce as hen's teeth, what with the war and all, so's my papa says. Use my eraser."Littlejim. Copyright � by Gloria Houston. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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