Title: Little Britches Series
Author: Ralph Moody
Major Themes: Farming, Ranching, Cowboys, Colorado, Maine, Massachusetts, Kansas, Family Read-Alouds, Autobiographies, US History 1900-1950, Books for Boys
Synopsis: This series of eight books, which follow the author through his growing-up and young adult years, is a must-read for all families, and will especially appeal to cowboy-loving boys!
We just finished reading through the Little Britches series for the second time. I was surprised by what my older children remembered from our first time through, about ten years ago when they were fairly young. These are memorable books! We all thoroughly enjoyed them and were sad to reach the end of the series. Ralph Moody has succeeded well in bringing his younger years to life, making us feel like we were there with him.
Little Britches tells the story of Ralph’s first few years in the West, when his family first moved to Colorado. He helped his father on their farm, and worked with several local ranchers. This is a wonderful story of a boy’s relationship with a wise, loving father, as well as a great story of life on a ranch.
In Man of the Family, Ralph’s family has moved to town after his father’s death. All the children must pull together with their mother to make a living. The ingenuity displayed is amazing, as well as the strength of character that is developed in each of them.
The Home Ranch tells the story of a summer that Ralph spent working on a ranch in Colorado, away from his family. He learned a lot about horses, cows, and himself.
Mary Emma and Company describes the family’s move to Boston and their first several months there. Having to start completely over, with nothing, was an immense challenge—but with Mother’s creative ideas, Ralph’s hard work and his sister’s creativity and hard work, they managed to come up with a comfortable home for the family as well as a decent income.
After getting in trouble in Boston, Ralph was sent to his grandfather’s farm in Maine, as told in The Fields of Home. This book focuses on the difficulties he experienced in getting along with Grandfather, and how both of them changed. It’s an amazing glimpse into a way of life that has long disappeared.
After a gap of several years, the story picks up again in Shaking the Nickel Bush. Ralph has now been diagnosed with terminal diabetes, and the doctor sent him West to try to prolong his life. Arriving in Arizona with nothing, he must use every bit of creativity he has to make a living for himself and send money back home to his mother. The way he makes money will amaze you!
After making and instantly losing a fortune Ralph finds himself kicked off a train in the middle of nowhere in Nebraska, in The Dry Divide. He quickly realizes he’s in trouble when the man who hires him and several other desperate men turns out to be nearly insane. The turn around in this story is just as incredible as in some of the others.
Horse of a Different Color wraps up the series. Ralph went into trading and feeding cattle and pigs, and soon found himself responsible for someone else’s huge debt. The way he dug his way out of that hole is inspiring, as an example of honesty and hard work.
These books keep everyone’s interest, especially boys, and teach great character lessons. Ralph is a shining example of hard work and honesty. I especially like some of the lessons from his father in the first book, but there are examples of the way we should live and treat others all the way through the series. This is a great series to follow the Little House books, especially for boys who love cowboy stories. Don’t miss these books!
WARNING: See the warnings with the individual titles. There is rough language throughout the series, worse in some books than others. It’s not hard to censor on the fly when reading aloud, except in The Fields of Home—Grandfather is pretty profane. The story is so great, though, that it’s worth taking the time to go through the book and clean up the language.
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults
Links to buy this book:
Amazon: Paperback (set)