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While living on the Rocky Ridge Farm in Missouri, thirteen-year-old Rose Wilder celebrates the turn of the twentieth century and begins to wonder about her future.
The mild, drizzly weather that had followed Christmas finally broke, and the last day of the old century dawned clear and biting cold. The frosty air stung Rose's nostrils, and the wind made her eyes water. But the bright sun warmed her cheeks and lay like a cozy shawl on the shoulders of her chore dress.
From the kitchen door she looked out onto the backyard. She didn't see the frozen mud scarred by wagon tracks and hoof marks. She didn't see the railroad grade blackened with coal soot. She didn't even see the wash on theline, waiting to be labored over with the heavy irons, and then neatly folded.
Instead she saw the sunlight glinting off the icy puddles. She heard the telegraph wires singing in the wind. Gusts whipped the sheets she had hung out to bleach that morning. They shimmered as white and fresh as a hillside of apple blossoms and snapped cheerfully, like proud flags on Independence Day.
The strong light made ordinary things look sharp and solid, as if seen through a stereoscope. On this day, at century's end, Rose's eyes looked at her everyday world as if they were seeing it for the first time.
"For goodness sake, Rose," Mama's voice called out from behind her in the warm kitchen. "Please shut that door before we all catch our death of cold."
Rose pulled the door closed behind her, filled her lungs, and crossed the backyard with the water bucket swinging from her hand. The cold air flowed like water around her bare legs, but she felt a fire glowing within that no cold could reach. This was New Year's Eve, the start of the twentieth century. Just thinking of it sent a thrill along all hernerves.
"Happy New Year!" she cried out to Mama's Leghorn chickens. The snowy hens were too busy pecking at the frozen earth to pay her any mind. Bunting, the Jersey milk cow, lifted her head from her trough in the barn lot and lowed a single half-questioning note. Then she stuck her wet nose back into the trough and bit another mouthful of hay.
Rose pumped the squeaky handle until the water came. She watched a lonely castle of clouds hurry past overhead. The bowl of pure blue sky glowed with light. Suddenly the cloud let down a snow shower. Flakes as fine as dust blew about the barn lot, dancing in the silvery light like confetti and powdering the roofs like cake sugar.
"January the first, nineteen hundred and aught," Rose said aloud. Never before had anyone lived in a year that began with nineteen hundred. Of course, every year was new. But this was something special, the changing of the centuries. In a person's whole lifetime, that could happen only once.
Everyone in town had been talking about it for months. In Rose's Fifth Reader class her new teacher, Professor Bland, taught the history of the century — from the inventions of the steamboat and cotton gin to the telephone and motor car; from the expedition of Lewis and Clark, through the Civil War, right up to the war with Spain that had happened just two years ago.
"In one hundred short years, America has grown from a savage wilderness to the greatest, richest nation on earth," Professor Bland told the scholars. "You must study the past to prepare yourselves to inherit the future."
The tattered newspapers and magazines that Papa brought home from the railroad depot, left behind in the waiting room by traveling men, brimmed with stories about the condition of the country and the world. Rose especially liked to read articles forecasting the future. Each issue had stories predicting everything from flying machines to the most outlandish fashions.
There was so much to look forward to. New inventions were making life easier, taking the drudgery out of housework, and the country was in a boom. But some people weren't happy.
Rose read that in San Francisco people complained that Chinese immigrants were taking away the jobs of hard-working fathers. The newspapers said the Chinese worked for little money and didn't want to become good Americans.
Rose had never met anyone from China. But she knew it was no sin to be poor. And after all, it was poor immigrants who had settled America and built it up-poor immigrants from all over the world.
In the East, people complained about immigrants from Europe. In a single day in New York City, where the Statue of Liberty watched over the harbor, ships brought ten thousand poor immigrants yearning for freedom. That was twenty times the number of people who lived in Mansfield, the little town in the Ozarks where Rose lived. In one day! So many foreigners were coming that in time there would hardly be any Americans left in America.
Rose knew, of course, that there really were no Americans, except the Indians who were here first. Everyone else was an immigrant, or came from immigrant ancestors. Rose's family had come from Europe, as long as one hundred and seventy years before. But now the country was bulging with immigrants, and how would they all live?
The cities were crowding up, because Americans were going there, too, leaving the old folks to keep up the farms. And everywhere the Negroes suffered almost the same as when they had been slaves. There had been horrible riots in New York City when some white people threw paving stones at Negroes.
In the South, in the dark of night, white men dragged Negro men out of their beds and hanged them without any justice. That was called lynching, and there had been a hundred lynchings in a single year.
Rose and Mama and Papa often read the papers together at night at the dining-room table. Mama put out a bowl of apples, and they huddled around the circle of light from the kerosene lamp, talking about the stories they read.
Posted July 28, 2008
this was such a great book! every night before i go to bed my mom always reads me a few pages out the little house 'laura's' series and my moms mom read it to her when she was little too and we liked it so much that it was a huge disapointment when it was over but then my mom told me about these books, they were almmost as good as the other series. iwould recomend this book to any person that has a heart, a brain, and a soul. although little house was bettor this story is just as loveable and one of the best on this earthWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 16, 2005
I think this high-spirited girl has turned into a young lady in this book. Rose is in love with her best friend!! This story is defenitly great! LAura is just like her daughter. But in other ways they can be really different.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted November 30, 2003
I am twelve years old. And even though I am not exactly 14 or 15, I can still relate. This is not only an interesting and intriguing book, but also fairly educational. It tells us how life was back in the late 1800's and shows us cultures and traditions that have been forgotten. I would not only advise girls to read this book, but every Rose book. I would also advise the other books in the Little House series, which goes back all the way back to Rose's great-great-grandmother. Definately a must read!!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted August 9, 2003
Rose Wilder and her family are still living in town after moving away from the Rocky Ridge Farm three years ago. Rose is 13 when the story begins and 15 when the story ends. Rose witnesses the beginning of the year 1900, and Paul who is a dear friend leaves on his new job in Iowa. Between everything Rose grows and learns about responsiblity, happiness, proudness, and that she is who she is. The Wilders produce their first apple harvest and Rose gets ready to graduate from school. She also learns the fun of letter writting and communication. This is a sweet book and I would recommend it to anyone.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted June 27, 2000
I like this book so much I have read it contless times. My favorite part is when Elsa Beaumont, Rose's frined, meets a traveling man. I highly recomend this story!Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 18, 2011
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Posted May 22, 2013
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Posted October 5, 2009
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