I almost didn’t give this book the time of day. But since The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz is short, recommended, and fits roughly in with the time period we are studying, I gave it a go. (Oh, and the fact that it’s one of the books for which there is an Arrow, one of the Brave Writer products we’ve begun using, but that’s a post for another day.) I initially thought I’d skip it as a read-aloud because it IS short, and I knew my girls could breeze through it in a matter of an hour or so. I am SO glad I didn’t skip this one as a read-aloud, though, and this just goes to show me that just because something is easy or short doesn’t mean it should always be handed off as a read-alone. I stand corrected. 🙂
The Cabin Faced West is based on the true story of Jean Fritz’s own ancestors who settled the Western Country of Pennsylvania when the nation was very young–in fact, while Washington was still president. It’s the story of ten year old Ann Hamilton, the only daughter of a pioneer family. It’s a simple story about Ann’s day-to-day life in which she does what one would expect a pioneer child to do–tend her younger brother, tend the vegetable garden, prepare meals, and take meals to the fields where her father and older brothers are working. It’s also about her interior life, though–about how she longs for a friend and longs to go back to Gettysburg, where is school and church and her best friend, Margaret. Fritz also communicates a good bit about sticktoitiveness, vision, and hard work through this little story. Through a series of events Ann learns to finally appreciate her life on the frontier and catch a vision for what it can mean for her, her family, and for the young nation. Fritz packs a lot of heart into this little book, and we all loved it. (Click through here to read one of my favorite scenes in the novel.) I, of course, cried at the end.
We’ve read things by Jean Fritz before; she’s a go-to author for American history books. In fact, the girls were reading her book The Great Little Madison independently as we finished this up as our read-aloud. I don’t know that I had fully appreciated her as an author before reading The Cabin Faced West, though. We give her and especially this novel a Highly Recommended. (1958)