Title: Man of the Family
Author: Ralph Moody
Series: Little Britches, book 2
Major Themes: Colorado, Cowboys, Family Read-alouds, Autobiography, US History 1900-1950, Books for Boys
Synopsis: After the father of the Moody family died, Ralph, his mother, and his brothers and sisters all had to work together to survive.
Man of the Family is such a good book. I love the way the Moody family made do, and how Mother kept the family together through such hard times. The way the children took care of their mother and each other is wonderful to see. We finished reading this book today. I have been reading a chapter a day, but after I read today’s chapter and mentioned there were only two more left, everyone begged me to finish, in lieu of reading our other stories. That tells me a book is a winner—when they want to hear more and more of it!
Ralph’s father died at the end of Little Britches, the first book in the series. His mother was left with five children, from 13 down, and another on the way, although the children didn’t know that till the baby was born. Back in 1910, there was no such thing as welfare—how was a family to survive without the breadwinner? Mother wouldn’t even think of taking the advice of her relatives and parceling out the children. She wanted her family to stay together—and she was going to do everything in her power to keep them together. She began a cookery route, baking New England specialties and sending the children around town to sell them. The children picked fruit on shares, and they had a large garden. And, Ralph was ingenious at finding jobs he could do to bring in some money—whether or not Mother approved of the job or not, and whether or not she knew what he was doing.
There are some very difficult times described in this book—like the time all the children got measles and Grace nearly died. There are also some very good times—such as when the children got on the good side of the Irish section foreman and were able to collect railroad ties that were being replaced. That’s an amusing story! I also love the chapter in which Mother and the children did up a bunch of rotten curtains for a hotel—what incredible ingenuity.
As I said about Little Britches, Man of the Family is a book that every child should get to hear. It is inspiring to see a family working together so well. There is some bad language; not as much as in the first book, but enough that I had to do a fair amount of editing as I read aloud. Also, Ralph does go behind his mother’s back and ride horses for pay when he knows she doesn’t approve. For the most part, however, this is just a great story about a family working as a team.
WARNING: Chapter 2: the damn town, shot to hell in a handbasket. Chapter 5: cowboys swearing, damned if I know, but I wisht that him and his whole outfit were in hell, get the hell outa here, damned if you ain’t a salesman, ain’t worth a damn. Chapter 6: by George, best dad-gummed tumatas. Chapter 7: hell no, by George three times, one hell of a time-a-day. Chapter 8: By George twice, the devil they couldn’t. Chapter 9: by doggies five times, you’re dang right, ain’t I the dang fool, what the hell twice, I’ll be doggoned, so damn smart, who the hell’s. Chapter 10: hell’s bells, by doggies twice, too dang cocky, be doggone careful, for God’s sake, wish to hell, dang fine man, blankety-blank fool. Chapter 12: by doggies, dang my hide. Chapter 13: by George, durn near slipped my mind, Jazes no, divil a bit you’d know, hell twice, Mr. Batchlett swore a little, the hell you say, three doggone good loads, riding in a match race even though Mother doesn’t like it. Chapter 14: by doggies, she’s dang close to it, she’s a dang fine cow. Chapter 16: what in the hell, git the hell outta here, divil a bit three times, by Jaikus Jack, Jaikus three times, In the name o’Gahd, how in the name o’heaven. Chapter 17: Good Lord, Lord sales alive. Chapter 18: gave me the dickens. Chapter 21: By the Lord Harry. Chapter 25: hell, hell’s bells, dang good little rider, the little devil. Chapter 26, doggone slow, for Pete’s sake. Chapter 28: By George
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults