Saturday, October 06, 2018

Little Men

Little Men. Louisa May Alcott. 1871. 329 pages. [Source: Bought]
First sentence: "Please, sir, is this Plumfield?" asked a ragged boy of the man who opened the great gate at which the omnibus left him.
Premise/plot: Little Men is the sequel to Louisa May Alcott's Little Women. Jo has married her Professor Bhaer. They've started their own family AND a school. "Mother Bhaer" is much beloved by one and all. The school mostly consists of young boys with a few girls in attendance. Two of the students are her niece and nephew--Daisy and Demi Brooke. 
My thoughts: Little Men doesn't really have a plot. It has plenty of characters. It has plenty of lessons--morals. Not so much on plots and subplots unless you consider "boys will learn lessons--sometimes the hard way" a plot. I liked it okay. I did. I didn't dislike it. But there were so many characters, and none of the characters felt fully fleshed out. I did not have this problem with Little Women. Meg, Jo, Beth, Amy, Marmee, Laurie, etc. These are characters that stick with you; they live. 
Perhaps the teaching philosophies of the Bhaers would have been radical or unconventional at the time this one was published? 

I do still plan on reading Jo's Boys. Mom says it's her favorite. Maybe it will be my favorite too.

Quotes:
  • Latin, Greek, and mathematics were all very well, but in Professor Bhaer's opinion, self knowledge, self-help, and self-control were more important, and he tried to teach them carefully.
  • "Yes, I know many people think boys are a nuisance, but that is because they don't understand them. I do; and I never saw the boy yet whom I could not get on capitally with after I had once found the soft spot in his heart.
  • Sympathy is a sweet thing, and it worked wonders here, for each boy knew that Father Bhaer was interested in him, and some were readier to open their hearts to him than to a woman, especially the older ones, who liked to talk over their hopes and plans, man to man.
  • "I shall devote the whole of my plot to the largest crop of patience I can get, for that is what I need most," said Mrs. Jo, so soberly that the lads fell to thinking in good earnest what they should say when their turns came, and some among them felt a twinge of remorse, that they had helped to use up Mother Bhaer's stock of patience so fast.
  • "We will plant self-denial, and hoe it and water it, and make it grow so well that next Christmas no one will get ill by eating too much dinner. If you exercise your mind, George, it will get hungry just as your body does, and you will love books almost as much as my philosopher here," said Mr. Bhaer;
  • It takes so little to make a child happy that it is a pity, in a world so full of sunshine and pleasant things, that there should be any wistful faces, empty hands, or lonely little hearts.
  • I regret to say that Nat sometimes told lies. Not very black ones, seldom getting deeper than gray, and often the mildest of white fibs; but that did not matter, a lie is a lie, and though we all tell many polite untruths in this queer world of ours, it is not right, and everybody knows it.
  • "Salt is like good-humor, and nearly every thing is better for a pinch of it, Posy," and Uncle Fritz stopped as he passed, hammer in hand, to drive up two or three nails for Sally's little pans to hang on.
  • "You mustn't; it's wicked to say 'Damn!'" cried Tommy, who had followed his leader so far. "Oh, hang! don't you preach, but play away; it's part of the fun to swear." "I'd rather say 'thunder turtles,'" said Tommy, who had composed this interesting exclamation and was very proud of it.
  • Dear me, half the science of teaching is knowing how much children do for one another, and when to mix them.
  • Kindness in looks and words and ways is true politeness, and any one can have it if they only try to treat other people as they like to be treated themselves.
  • "Happy is the man who can put temptation in his pocket and learn self-denial from so sweet a little teacher!" added Mr. Bhaer.
  • Money is the root of all evil, and yet it is such a useful root that we cannot get on without it any more than we can without potatoes.
  • Daisy knew nothing about women's rights; she quietly took all she wanted, and no one denied her claim, because she did not undertake what she could not carry out, but unconsciously used the all-powerful right of her own influence to win from others any privilege for which she had proved her fitness.
  • Nan attempted all sorts of things, undaunted by direful failures, and clamored fiercely to be allowed to do every thing that the boys did. They laughed at her, hustled her out of the way, and protested against her meddling with their affairs. But she would not be quenched and she would be heard, for her will was strong, and she had the spirit of a rampant reformer.
  • "You must put swearing away in your fault-drawer, and lock it up; that's the way I do with my badness."
  • "I play that my mind is a round room, and my soul is a little sort of creature with wings that lives in it. The walls are full of shelves and drawers, and in them I keep my thoughts, and my goodness and badness, and all sorts of things. The goods I keep where I can see them, and the bads I lock up tight, but they get out, and I have to keep putting them in and squeezing them down, they are so strong."
  • It is never too early to try and plant them [good principles] in a child, and never too late to cultivate them in the most neglected person.
  • You are a sort of Berserker, Dan, and something to tussle with is as necessary to you as music is to Nat," said Mr. Bhaer, who knew all about the conversation between the boy and Mrs. Jo.
  • "He wasn't rich, was he?" asked Jack. "No." "He never did any thing to make a stir in the world, did he?" "No." "He was only good?" "That's all;" and Franz found himself wishing that Uncle John had done something to boast of, for it was evident that Jack was disappointed by his replies. "Only good. That is all and every thing," said Mr. Bhaer, who had overheard the last few words, and guessed what was going on the minds of the lads.
  •  Simple, generous goodness is the best capital to found the business of this life upon. It lasts when fame and money fail, and is the only riches we can take out of this world with us.
  • "Kindness is always better than force. Try it and see," answered Mr. Bhaer, rising.  Too many tales are as bad as too many bonbons. I have paid my forfeit and I go," and Mr. Bhaer ran for his life, with the whole flock in full pursuit.
  •  "I thought you must eat as much as ever you could on Thanksgiving. But Franz says you mustn't even then;" and Stuffy looked as if he had received bad news.
  • "I'll be careful; but everybody does eat lots, and I like it better than being moderate," said Stuffy, who leaned to the popular belief that Thanksgiving must be kept by coming as near apoplexy as possible, and escaping with merely a fit of indigestion or a headache.
  • Dear me! if men and women would only trust, understand, and help one another as my children do, what a capital place the world would be!
  • For love is a flower that grows in any soil, works its sweet miracles undaunted by autumn frost or winter snow, blooming fair and fragrant all the year, and blessing those who give and those who receive.
© 2018 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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I am interested in reviewing books and audio books. This blog focuses on books written for middle grade on up (essentially 10 to a 110). I review middle grade fiction and young adult fiction (aka tween and teen).

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