Wednesday, July 01, 2015

"Five Little Peppers and How They Grew" by Margaret Sidney

I finally did it. I read Five Little Peppers and How They Grew by Margaret Sidney. My sister was given a beautiful antique copy of the book as a child, and I always intended to borrow it from her. The years passed by, and the book remained unread.

I am no longer a child, and I don't live with my sister anymore, but that doesn't mean I couldn't simplify my life for a few days and dive into this 1881 children's classic. I missed out on the pretty antique, but I was able to download it for free onto my Kindle.

Five Little Peppers and How They Grew is a simple children's story which encourages hard work, kindness, and generosity among even the littlest of children. These characteristics are rewarded in an almost rags to riches fashion when the poverty stricken Pepper family is taken in by the wealthy Mr. King.

I had mixed feelings about the story due to the extreme conditions the children find themselves in. The family is just barely surviving, and the widowed mother and two oldest children, 11 year old Ben and 10 year old Polly, work constantly to put the carefully rationed and simple food on the table. 

Polly in particular takes on too much stress for her young body. The family is forced to rely on her too much, and the guilt she feels at being unable to help more than she already does made my heart hurt. At the same time, I imagine I would have acted in just the same way if found in a similar position.  Thankfully, my life as a 10 year old was far easier than Polly's.

There are some sweet moments among the Pepper children and their friends, and the joy they feel in the simplest of blessings is something I wish I could teach my own children (just without the fear of starvation or complete ruin). I don't know how old my children will be when I let them read this, but I lean toward it being a book we read aloud together, so we can talk about the more difficult parts.

One thing of interest is that Polly bakes most of the bread for her family. My little girl (3) already talks about the day she will be able to bake on her own, so she has my full permission to emulate Polly in this area!

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