Strawberry Girl

Strawberry Girl

4.1 37
by Lois Lenski

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Birdie Boyer was a Florida Cracker. She belonged to a large strawberry family, who lived on a flatwoods farm in the lake section of the state. They raised strawberries for a living.

Through all the hazards of the uncertain crop — battling against dry weather and grass fires, the roving hogs and cattle of their neighbors — Birdie dreamed of an education

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Birdie Boyer was a Florida Cracker. She belonged to a large strawberry family, who lived on a flatwoods farm in the lake section of the state. They raised strawberries for a living.

Through all the hazards of the uncertain crop — battling against dry weather and grass fires, the roving hogs and cattle of their neighbors — Birdie dreamed of an education that would include playing the organ. In the end she won not only the title of strawberry girl, but book learning as well.

This is a story full of enterprise and fun and tire excitement of real life in this interesting part of America.

Lois Lenski has used again her gift for catching the flavor and drama of life in a remote corner of America. It is the second of a series of regional stories through which she promises to introduce other fascinating and little-known backgrounds to boys and girls. This story will take a place beside her popular Louisiana story Bayou Suzette in the affection of readers.

The eighty-four illustrations are distinguished for their action and fascinating detail. They add greatly to this true picture of Florida life at a time when old Florida ways were changing to new.

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Editorial Reviews

Children's Literature
Birdie Boyer is Strawberry Girl in this delightfully classic tale of frontier life in Florida. As newcomers the Boyers' so-called uppity ways clash with the Slaters, their fence-hating, land-squatting, free-cattle-ranging neighbors. Birdie helps her Ma and Pa battle the Florida sun, drought, and sandy soil as they attempt to put in strawberry plants and tend to their orange trees. Problems abound and tempers flare as the Slaters and Boyers meet with trouble; fences are cut, hogs are killed, a mule is poisoned, and a raging fire is set. The Slaters are beset with tribulation due to the drinking, gambling, and irresponsibility of their husband and father. Mrs. Slater and her children find themselves indebted to the Boyers by a life-saving act of neighborly affection, which changes the heart of Mr. Slater. Lenski intersperses historical spice and appeal throughout her story, while illustrating the hardships and trials of life on the frontier in early twentieth century Florida. 2005 (orig. 1945), Harper Trophy/HarperCollins Publishers, Ages 10 to 18.
—Sarah Nelson DeWald

Product Details

HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
6.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.25(d)
650L (what's this?)
Age Range:
8 - 12 Years

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


It was a bright morning in early April. Birds were chirping and singing in the shady trees. A barelegged ten-year-old girl came out on the front porch. She watered the plants in the lard buckets there. She picked off a dead leaf or two.

"Ma!" she called. "The pink geranium's a-bloomin'. Come see it. Hit shore is putty!"

Mrs. Boyer came out, drying her hands on her apron.

"Come down here, Ma, and look," begged the girl.

The woman came down the steps and stood at her side. The girl's brown hair was braided in two braids, looped up. Her eyes were big in her pointed face. She looked much like her mother.

"Ain't them right putty, Ma? I jest got to come out first thing in the mornin' and look at 'em."

"Purty, yes!" agreed her mother. "But lookin' at posies don't git the work done." She hurried back up the steps.

"Did I get some blue paint and paint the lard buckets, Ma, they'd look a sight purtier, wouldn't they?"

"Blue lard buckets!" laughed the woman. "Never heard of sich as that!" She disappeared in the house.

The girl took up a long broom made of brush-branches from a tree-and swept the yard clean. Its hard smooth surface felt good to her feet. Then she knelt in the path and began to set a row of bricks at an angle, to make a neat border. "I'll plant my amaryllis bulbs in the flower bed right here," she said to herself.

She stood up, her arms akimbo.

"Land sakes, somebody's comin'!" she called. "Ma! Callers!"

"Law me!" cried Mrs. Boyer, peeping out. "The Slaters! And my breakfast dishes not done."

The girl stared at the littleprocession.

Mrs. Slater, tall, thin and angular, carrying her baby like a sack of potatoes on her hip, was followed by the two little girls, Essie and Zephy. Some distance behind, as if curious yet half-unwilling to be one of the party, came a lanky twelve-year-old boy wearing a broad-brimmed black felt hat. The woman and children plowed the loose, dry sand with their bare feet. With each step forward, they seemed to slip a trifle backward, so their progress was slow. Bushy scrub oaks and a thicket of palmetto grew on the far side of the rough path, while a forest of tall pines rose in the distance.

The old Roddenberry house was not old enough to deserve to be called old. It had been built in the 1880's, the earliest type of Florida pioneer home. Deserted by the Roddenberrys after the Big Freeze of 1895, it had stood empty for some years, but showed few signs of neglect. The sturdy pine and cypress wood which had gone into its making were equal to many more years of Florida sun, rain, wind and heat.

The house was a simple one, but by backwoods standards a mansion. It was a double-pen plank house, with an open hall or breezeway in the middle. On one side was a bedroom, on the other the kitchen. Behind were two small shed rooms used for sleeping quarters. Wide porches spread across front and back.

The Slaters: approached the picket fence timidly, staring with all eyes. Mrs. Slater opened the gate.


The girl in the path spoke first.

"Hey!" came the feeble response.

The girl tipped her head and smiled. "My name's Birdie Boyer," she said. "Come in and see Ma."

She led the way onto the front porch and across the breezeway. The boy did not come in.

"Can I borrow a cup o' sugar, ma'am?" inquired Mrs. Slater.

"Shore can!" said Mrs. Boyer heartily. "Any time you need somethin', you call on me and welcome. That's what neighbors is for. Mighty nice to be near enough for neighborin'."

They sat down stiffly. An awkward silence fell.

"We had sich a heap o' work to do, to git this ole place fixed up," began Mrs. Boyer. "We ain't what you might call settled yet. Them Roddenberrys . . . "

"They got froze out in the Big Freeze," said Mrs. Slater. "They went back to wherever it was they come from. All their orange trees got bit back to the ground by the frost. Ah* no use messin' with oranges here. Hit's too cold in the wintertime."

"But the trees were seedlings," said Mrs. Boyer, "and they've come up again from the roots. When we git 'em pruned good and the moss cleaned out, they'll make us a fine grove."

"I got me a orange tree," said Birdie, "'bout so high." She raised her hand to a height of about three feet. "I planted a bunch of seeds from an orange once. This seedling was the strongest -- it come from the king seed. We brung it along with us and I planted it where the water drips from the pump. Soon I'll be pickin' my own oranges!"

"Yes, soon we'll be pickin' oranges to sell," added her mother.

"To sell?" asked Mrs. Slater in surprise.

"Yes, ma'am. We're studyin' to sell oranges and strawberries and sweet 'taters and sich and make us a good livin'."

"Sell things? Messin' with things to sell?" said Mrs. Slater. "Then you'll purely starve to death. Why, nothin' won't grow here in Floridy. The only way we-uns can git us a livin' is messin' with cows and sellin' 'em for beef "

"We're studyin' to always have us a few cows too, and cowpen the land. We git real benefit from our cattle, usin' ' em for beef and fertilizer, and for milk and butter too," said Mrs. Boyer.

"Why, them scrubby little ole woods cows don't give enough milk to bother with milkin' 'em," laughed Mrs. Slater.

"Where we come from," said Mrs. Boyer slowly, "we feed our cows.

"Feed 'em!" Mrs. Slater laughed a shrill laugh. "With all the grass they is to eat? Where you folks come from anyway?"

Strawberry Girl. Copyright © by Lois Lenski. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

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Strawberry Girl 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 36 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
'Strawberry Girl' by Lois Lenski is an rare insight into a child's life in the 1900's. The books main character, Birdie Boyer, and her family move from Marion County, Florida to the Roddenberry house in the backwoods of Florida. The family is greeted by the Slater's, who soon enough become their enemies and best friends. The families feud throughout the book. There are near death experience, burning woods, pig ear clipping, animal poisoning, and more. The feuding doesn't stop until kindess from one family saves the lives of the others, changing one person forever. Giving the theme of the book to be honor your neighbor because you never know when you might need them. This book was different than any book that I have read lately. I enjoyed how the author incorporated the southern language into the book, giving a more realistic touch. For instance when Birdie talks with her father after teaching Shoestring Slater a lesson for making fun of her horse her father says,'They'll be back directly don't pay no mind....Tired out with all the plowin'? Little gal like you, no bigger'n a weesny wren, plowin' a hull bug field like this.' Also the I like out the author adds different aspects of southern life. For example, the author in vivid detail describes how sugar cane is made and then how the candy is made from the cane. The author doesn't sugar coat the book most, she depicts every aspect of what life was like, from their clothing, school, farm work, and even some drunken brawls. This book is fun and exciting but is definitly not for all ages. I would recommend this book for 5th grade and above. The author Lois Lenski won he Newbery Award for 'Strawberry Girl' in 1946. She has written and illustrated many other books, but this is the most recognized. She was born in Springfield, Ohio in 1893. She graduate from Ohio State University in 1915 where she studied art. She mainly writes regional stories with a southern twang. She passed away in 1974. She was trully an amazing writer, who wrote about how life really was.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It has 19 and a half pages. It may seem long but it is not. It starts out when the Slaters are sitting on the porch. Mr. Slater just found out some new people from Caroliny moved in to the ole Roddenberry house. They are the Boyers. They start trouble right away. They Boyers plan to grow strawberries but the Slaters say the strawberries will die. The Slaters animals wreck everything including the strawberries. Animals start to die and the Slaters start a fire. The end is real good, so you should read it and find out what happens.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I really enjoyed this book. I recommend it to everyone
Butterfly_Beauty523 More than 1 year ago
I remember reading this book as a young girl and it still touches my heart today. Stories of candy pullins and eating sugar cane take me back to days gone by. Thank you Lois Lenski for providing a legacy for those of us wishing for a brief escape back to the back woods.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
So boring. I did not think the story kept up well. I didn't like shoestringm
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
My mom has got this book for me and i havent read it yeat but looks good!Toddles Amanda signing out!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is so auesome i feel very happy at the end
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I think that it is really good in the sample hope you will make more. Meg
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Little house books
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HomeSchoolBookReview More than 1 year ago
Even in 1900, much of the state of Florida was still a wilderness being populated by settlers. Ten-year-old Birdie (Berthenia Lou) Boyer has moved to the old Roddenberry place in the palmetto backwoods of Florida with her father Bihu, mother, older brothers Bihu Jr. (Buzz) and Dan, big sister Dixie, little sister Dovey Eudora (Dove), and baby brother Robert (Bunny). The family plans to raise and sell strawberries and oranges. Unfortunately, their nearest neighbors are the Slaters. Mr. Slater drinks quite a bit. His older sons Gus and Joe beat up the teacher Mr. Pearce so they don't have to go to school. Mrs. Slater seems nice, but is afraid of her husband and always chiding the Boyers for being too "biggety." The little Slater girls, Essie and Zephy, alternately play with the Boyer girls and then ignore them. The other Slater boy, Jeff (Jefferson Davis), nicknamed Shoestring, is often defiant but always sad. Mr. Slater has been raising cattle, and since he lets them roam loose to find foraging he doesn't want the area fenced off for farms, so he does several things in an attempt to drive the Boyers away. He runs his cattle over their strawberry fields (although after this Mrs. Boyer spreads flour over the field to make the Slaters think that the Boyers have spread poison). After the Boyer land is fenced, the Slaters cut the fences to let their hogs in. They poisoned the Boyers' only mule Semina. They even set a grass fire to burn the Boyers out. Will the Slaters ever change their evil ways? And will the Boyers decide to leave or stay? Mrs. Lenski wrote several historical novels, such as Indian Captive, and a number of regional novels, including Texas Tomboy and Prairie School, about the lives of children in different parts of the country. Strawberry Girl, the 1946 Newbery Award winner, is classed as a regional. The story is based on interviews that were conducted by the author. It is a simple but fresh and realistic look at how a pioneering family in early twentieth century Florida had to suffer through the hardships of heat, drought, cold snaps, and storms, as well as trouble with feuding neighbors. As to language, there are a few euphemisms and the term "Lordy" is used as an interjection. The dialogue contains a lot of Southern colloquialisms and dialect that may be a little hard for some children to read but gives it the flavor of authenticity. The book shows the dangers of drinking while it encourages hard work and kindness toward enemies. There is a little bit of denominational thinking, but in the end Mr. Slater is converted at a camp meeting and lives a changed life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a future teacher I can see myself using this book in my classroom. It has many life lessons to learn from and it will help children see just how different life used to be, to what it is now.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
I read this book in 5th grade, many moons ago,I am ordering it now for my daughter.I hope she enjoys it like I did,no wands,no fairys,no dragons or guns,just a good ole story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Strawberry Girl by Lois Lenski is a book about a little girl who is a strawberry picker who works very hard! Birdie Boyer was a Florida Cracker who always dreamed of getting an education and playing the organ. I really liked this book because it teaches children the concept of hard work. There are quite a few illustrations in the book that keeps the children interested. I really enjoyed the end when the family gathered around the new organ and sang a song. The dialogue in the book is very country, for example when Birdie says, ¿I purely can¿t make me a purty tune! I thought it would be so easy.¿ Birdie also had a great sense of humor, she wasn¿t afraid to say what she thought to anybody. Overall, I really enjoyed this heartwarming book. Lois Lenski won the Newberry Medal in 1946. She was also recognized for her important program of regional books for children, The American Regional Series. Throughout these different books children get to travel throughout many different states. Lenski, Lois. Strawberry Girl. Philadelphia and New York: J.B. Lippincott Company, 1945.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Strawberry Girl is a well written story of how family life in the backwoods used to be. It tells of one particular family's adversities with their livelihood and their trouble-making neighbors. The writing is evenly paced, allowing the reader to become attached to the characters. It's alive and fresh and interesting.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a very interesting story on how this family makes a living!This is very interesting because all of the family crops could burn down and they still do this as a living!
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was very exiciting a real amazing story. You should definately read this book. if you do I hope you enjoy it.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book was out of this world! I really enjoyed it. If you like to read spunky/fun stories, Read THIS book!
Guest More than 1 year ago
It was a good book except for the part s like when Mr. Slater gets drunk and he shoots all the head off of the chickens or when the Slaters do bad things to the Boyer's animals. Besides those things the book is pretty good. It teaches kids lessons and it teaches kids what it was like in the old days. What I'm trying to say is Strawberry Girl is a good book for kids in about 4th grade and up.
Guest More than 1 year ago
It is about a sweet little girl and her family that moves to Florida. They meet up with some unfriendly neighbors. Birdie and her family try to grow strawberries, but their neighbors keep ruining the strawberries. They put up a fence to keep their neighbors out. Now that was a big mistake. The Slaters cut the fence and go right through with their cattle. Birdie's younger brother gets a spotted calf but the Slaters steal it. Mr. Boyer is really mad. Mrs. Slater is sick. The Slater boy asks Mrs. Boyer if she could take care of his mom. Will Mrs. Boyer help? Will the families become friends? You can find out if you read the book.