Thursday, April 26, 2012

Book Girl: Strawberry Fields by Lois Lenski

Book Description:
The land was theirs, but so were its hardships
Strawberries -- big, ripe, and juicy. Ten-year-old Birdie Boyer can hardly wait to start picking them. But her family has just moved to the Florida backwoods, and they haven′t even begun their planting. ";Don′t count your biddies ′fore they′re hatched, gal young un!"; her father tells her.
Making the new farm prosper is not easy. There is heat to suffer through, and droughts, and cold snaps. And, perhaps most worrisome of all for the Boyers, there are rowdy neighbors, just itching to start a feud.
My thoughts:
Strawberry Girl  is one of Lois Lenski's "regional series" books which won the 1946 Newbery Medal.
In the foreword, the author describes the "Crackers" descendants from Carolina, Georgia and West Florida who settled in the lake region of Florida. They lived a primitive life and had to fight with nature, wildlife, and their neighbors.

Birdie and her family move into the "ole" Roddenberry house and soon meet their neighbors, the Slaters. She also meets their son, Shoestring. The Boyer family begin to work on planting their strawberry plants and other things that they were going to raise and sell. Soon trouble starts when the Slater cattle trample over their plants. Birdie's father puts up a fence and the troubles begin. Not only do they have to deal with the Slater's shenanigan, but they also have to deal with insects, birds, and the weather. Even in the midst of trouble, Birdie and her family show that "loving your neighbor" can be done.

I think what draws me most to this story is Birdie and Shoestring. It isn't possible that they can't be friends due to their families feuding. Birdie struggles with hatred toward Shoestring, and he enjoys taunting and teasing her. Even though Shoestring joins in the trouble, he also warns her when something bad is going to happen. Throughout the story I could feel their struggle to be friends, which adds some suspense to the story.

I remember reading this book back in high school and it left an impression on me. During this re-read I was amazed to realize that these struggles happened in the early 1900's. This book is also filled with Lois Lenski's delightful illustrations which add to the charm of the story. Also, you can't help but enjoy their vernacular:

"You purely can't!" said the boy. "Can't raise nothin' on this sorry 'ole piece of land but a fuss! He spat and frowned. "Sorriest you can find--either too wet or too dry. Not fittin for nothin' but palmetto roots. Your strawberries won't never make."
 Overall, I enjoyed re-reading this story and that it was just as delightful and impressionable as when I first read it years ago. This is my first book that I have read from my "The Classics Club" project.

I am linking up over at:


  1. I remember enjoying this book a lot when it was a read-aloud in our homeschool curriculum. Also, I just saw your post on the Classics Club and loved your book list.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this book aloud to my kiddos. Not only was the eye dialect done well, but it gave a great flavor of the region. I was pretty unaware of the "Crackers" and the history of how Florida was settled, so it was fun on that end too.

  3. My mom read this book to me when I was little! I'll have to reread it sometime :) We loved Lenski!!



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