What To Read Next

Pam Adams, December, 2008

Little Britches
Ralph Moody

Admit it, we've all been there. There comes a day when we've read and re-read the AR canon so many times that we are (temporarily!) in need of a break. I would like to suggest some authors and books that I think fans of the Swallows and Amazons will enjoy, and that may not quite as familiar.

The Little Britches series, by Ralph Moody, is set primarily in the American Mid-West, starting in the early 1900's and running into the 1920's. The stories are autobiographical, based on the author's life. The eight books are very different from the fantasy world that the Swallows, Amazons, and D's inhabit. Ralph has plenty of adventures, but they're based on his real life, where he helps to support his family, first on a ranch, and then in various cities. The books are currently in print from the University of Nevada Press, and available through the usual bookdealers.

The complete series is:

Little Britches
Man of the Family
The Home Ranch
Mary Emma and Company
The Fields of Home
Shaking the Nickel Bush
The Dry Divide
A Horse of a Different Color

All-Of-A-Kind Family
Sydney Taylor

Sydney Taylor's All-of-A-Kind Family is set in the same era as the Moody books, but in a very different place. Ella, Hetty, Sarah, Charlotte and Gertie are five sisters, living with their parents in New York City at the turn of the century. The books are in print, and seem to be readily available. There's an online reader about the series located here: http://www.jewishlibraries.org/ajlweb/awards/companion.pdf.

The complete series is:

All-Of-A-Kind Family
More All-Of-A-Kind Family
All-of-a-Kind Family Uptown
All-of-a-Kind Family Downtown
Ella of All-of-a-Kind Family

The Andy Adams Books Andy Adams

Jumping from New York back to the West, I want to talk about Andy Adams. Andy's work is usually classified as Western writing. It makes for great adventure literature, and is suitable for children of all ages. While both Moody and Taylor wrote in the 1950's and 60's about the early 1900's, Adams wrote in the early 1900's about the late 1800's. His best known work, The Log of A Cowboy, is usually seen as autobiographical, but it is a novel; as its subtitle says: "A Narrative of the Old Trail Days." A group of cowboys, including Tom, our twenty-ish protagonist, drives a herd of cattle from Mexico to Montana in the heyday of the cattle trails. The book is nothing like what we think the West was– there's plenty of hard work and tall tales, but hardly any gunfights, and not a love interest in sight. We know that Nancy never read this book, or she would have given up the gold mining in a heartbeat, and instead of Pigeon Post, we would have a book where the Swallows, Amazons, and D's rustled Jackie's family's cattle and drove them to Yorkshire.

Two others of Adams' books are definitely juveniles. Wells Brothers: The Young Cattle Kings, and The Ranch on the Beaver, tell the story of Joel and Dell Wells, two orphaned boys who, after being befriended by some of the cowboys from Log of A Cowboy, are able to start a cattle ranch. The books are enjoyable and the adventures exciting, with the boys earning success in the best Horatio Alger manner. While some of Adams' works are in print, they can be difficult to find. Several of them are available on Project Gutenberg, and there's always the various used book outlets online. http://www.gutenberg.org/browse/authors/a#a773.

The above are all books that I've enjoyed. I can recommend them without reservation, and hope that you find as much fun and adventure in them as I have.

Review by Pam Adams.

This article is ©2008 by Pam Adams, and posted on All Things Ransome with permission.

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