Title: The Fields of Home
Author: Ralph Moody
Series: Little Britches series, book 5
Major Themes: Farming, Family, Family Read-Alouds, Memoirs, US History 1900-1950, Books for Boys
Synopsis: When Ralph got in trouble in Boston, he was sent to live with his grandfather in Maine, and found himself in one of the hardest situations he had ever experienced.
The Fields of Home is the hardest of the books in the Little Britches series to read aloud, for me. It’s also one of the very best of the books, in a way. The first time I read the series aloud, I skipped this one because I couldn’t figure out how to censor it enough to be comfortable with it. The second time I read through the series, I read each chapter ahead of time and marked out the language I didn’t appreciate. That made it a lot easier to read it this time, as the hard work was already done.
Ralph was getting into trouble in Boston. He had a hard time adjusting to the restrictions of Boston culture, compared to what he was used to in Colorado, and ended up in enough trouble with the law that Mother sent him to her father in Maine. Ralph had no memory of meeting his grandfather, and on the way there he made up his mind that he would head to Colorado as quickly as he could get away. His resolve was strengthened when he was told what a hard man Grandfather was to get along with—and then Grandfather worked him like a slave and yelled at him. Time after time Ralph made up his mind that he was leaving, and time after time something happened that made him stay.
Throughout the entire summer, Ralph and his grandfather were at odds over every little thing. Grandfather wanted the farmwork done the way his father had done it; Ralph figured out ways to mechanize the work—and Grandfather either pretended he didn’t know what was happening or destroyed it. What was the matter with Grandfather, and was there any hope that Ralph could ever learn to understand him, much less love the crusty old man?
The Fields of Home is an amazing story of family, and the power of love to change a man. Every time I read the story I am again amazed at Uncle Levi’s wisdom, understanding and love, and the way he was able to transmit those to Ralph in such a way that Ralph could get along with and help Grandfather. This is also an absolutely wonderful story of farming over a hundred years ago. Ralph Moody has a way of telling a story of bygone days that doesn’t sugar-coat the hard times but shows the joy he found in doing his work. Be sure to read this book along with the rest of the series. Don’t let Grandfather’s language deter you. This book is worth reading!
WARNING: Grandfather uses swear words in almost every sentence. I went through our copy of this book and marked them out; some pages have 8-10 words or phrases marked out. The first time I read this series aloud, I skipped this book because of the language; the second time, I bought a copy so that I could mark it up. If language bothers you, follow my example—read the book yourself and censor it before handing it to your children. Also, Uncle Levi encourages Ralph to kiss the neighbor girl. This shows up in chapters 29, 30, and 33.
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults