Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm by Kate Douglas Wiggin
originally published 1903
Watermill Classics, 1st printing, 1981
Genre: Children’s literature
Synopsis & Review: Eleven-year-old Rebecca Rowena Randall sets off on a journey, leaving her beloved Sunnybrook Farm, mother, and siblings behind so that her maiden aunts Miranda and Jane Sawyer of Riverboro might “make something of her.” For the next several years, her Sawyer aunts will clothe, feed, shelter, and educate Rebecca, but in turn, she will also teach them about love and the child’s place in the home.
Her time with the Sawyers is not untroubled; Rebecca gets into scrapes due to her impulsive nature, ruining a new dress, being accused of swearing, and clogging up the well. But she also performs well in school and becomes a popular figure among the Riverboro small fry. She charms adults and children alike, soon enslaving the blacksmith’s daughter Emma Jane, who will remain her best friend until the novel’s end, and also enchanting the Cobbs and her teacher. Rebecca also gains her own personal genie in the form of Mr Alan Ladd, a rich bachelor who takes an interest in the delightful child, sponsoring her whenever possible. Only Aunt Miranda resists Rebecca’s charms.
Before there was Anne Shirley, there was Rebecca Rowena Randall, an early example of the literate, articulate, and lively little girl that would become so popular in early twentieth century children’s fiction. These girls were irrepressibly joyful and romantic, readers and writers both. But Rebecca was caught between this new style of girl and a nineteenth century model of perfection and womanly virtues. And it shows. Read the rest of this entry »