This is the second time I have read this book. This time I was reading it out loud to the kids. My oldest son took it and finished it in a few days and my 7yr. old always complains when I have to stop and it is time to go to bed. I love books that do that to kids. They really listen and you know they are getting something out of the effort and time spent reading together.
I love this book! This time around I had to pay more attention to details because I was leading a book discussion in one of my book groups. Everyone loves this book that reads it! It is full of adventure, sadness and deep lessons on life taught by a dad to his son.
It reminds me of something my dad used to say, "When the going gets tough the tough get going!" This is so true and through out the book no matter how hard things are the everyone pulls together and learn valuable lessons in life. They bond together in their family and the simple things are what matter most. Telling the truth, working hard and helping your neighbor. Also having faith in the almighty.
The part that especially came alive was the Character House concept. Here is my favorite part. Father said, "A man's character is like his house. If he tears boards off his house and burns them to keep himself warm and comfortable, his house soon becomes a ruin. If he tells lies to be able to do the things he shouldn't do but wants to, his character will soon become a ruin. A Man with a ruined character is a shame on the face of the earth."
I am including the questions I used (borrowed) for the discussion. Some we skipped and some we expanded on. It was really fun to hear some of the ladies tell about their own childhoods way back when things were similar to the character in the books life. Actually Ralph isn't only the character but the whole book was based on his, the author's, real life. There is a whole series in fact. I can't wait to read them all. I have read #1, #2 and #5 already.
1. Little Britches
2. Man of the Family
3. The Home Ranch
4. Mary Emma and Company
5. The Fields of Home
6. Shaking the Nickel Bush
7. The Dry Divide
8. Horse of a Different Color
Discussion Questions for Little Britches by Ralph Moody (gives some of the story away so only read if you already read the book)
1.When the family first saw the house (pg. 13) why did Ralph think it looked all right? Why didn't father yell or mother cry?
2.How is the life as an 8-10 year old boy different today from then? What changes are good, which are bad? - Did Ralph make the right choice to fight Freddie?
3.Do you think it was a good idea for Ralph to work for Mrs. Corcoran? Why? -On pg. 92 (read aloud) Why did Ralph say he'd do it when he didn't understand? Why did Mrs. Corcoran change her mind? Could she have handled the situation differently?
4.What kind of a neighbor was Fred Autland?
5. Do you think Ralph made the right choice to go off and get Two Dog to help save Bill? What else might he have done?
6. Did Ralph handle his confession to the Sheriff well? Why or why not?
7. What does Father mean when he says that some people tear boards off their character house and “burns them to keep himself warm and comfortable”?
8. Why did those men at the head of the ditch steal water?
9. What parenting qualities do you admire/disagree with about Little Britches' parents?
10. Why did the cowboys do so much for Ralph? Was Hi a good mentor to Ralph, even though he did things Ralph knew his parents wouldn't approve of?
11. Why did Father tell Ralph to give the man who's paying him a good day's work?
12. Did you find any good ideas from the life of this family that you would like to employ into your own family life?
13. What kinds of lessons did Ralph have to learn the hard way?
14. Which character do you most identify with and why?
15. What would your family do if your dad died? Do you think Ralph's family is going to make it all right?
I read some stuff about Ralph Moody and I really liked this:
He told an interviewer for the New York Times Book Review, August 6, 1967, "My goal in writing is to leave a record of the rural way of life in this country during the early part of the twentieth century, and to point up the values of that era which I feel that we, as a people, are letting slip away from us." (This information was gleaned from Something About the Author, Vol. 1, p. 162)
This is a Whole and Healing book. I recommend it for all ages and especially for families to read together out loud.