Title: Strawberry Girl
Author: Lois Lenski
Major Themes: Farming, Florida
Synopsis: When a new family moves into the south Florida community where the Slaters have lived for many years, trouble is inevitable.
I have read Strawberry Girl more times than any of Lois Lenski’s other books about children in various regions of the United States, but I still love it. After we read Cotton in My Sack, my boys wanted more books by the same author, so I started this one—and then discovered it was scheduled in as a read-aloud in the week of Sonlight Curriculum we were about to start going through! Good timing. Of the four books we were reading together at the time, this was the favorite.
Birdie Boyer and her family have just moved into the old Rodenberry place in southern Florida, next door to the Slaters. Though the Boyers came from northern Florida, the Slaters still consider them to be outsiders. The Boyers fence their land and raise oranges and strawberries to sell; the Slaters have a large herd of free-range cattle. Birdie does her best to avert conflicts between the families, but what can one young girl really do, when the fathers of the families are so sure of what they want to do?
Strawberry Girl is the story of a culture in transition. The old free-range days are coming to an end. New people are coming to the area with new ways of doing things, creating much tension. Can the newcomers show the old residents that new ways can be good? Or will the families who have been there a long time eventually make life so difficult for the newcomers that they move away?
I really like the changes that are shown in characters in this book throughout the story. Both families experience changes, and grow in their ability to get along with others.
WARNING: Chapter 10, pages 120 and 121, the exclamation “Lordy” is used. Chapter 13, page 159, “By Jerusalem.” Chapter 14, page 182, and chapter 14, pages 191 and 194, “Golly.”
Listening Level—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, Family Friendly
Reading Independently—Ages 8 – 12, 10 – 12