Happy Monday, guys!
This week, I'm reviewing Littler Women. I normally don't review ARCs this early - I tend to wait until closer to publication - but I suspect that many will be wondering the same as I was: do we really need another version of Littler Women?
And the answer is? Sort of. Read on for more.
Expected publication: September 5th 2017 by Paula Wiseman Books
Thirteen-year-old Meg March and her sisters Jo (twelve), Beth (ten), and Amy (nine) are a close-knit group who share in one another’s hopes and dreams, as well as struggles and frustrations. Over the course of one year they get to know their neighbors the Lawrences, attend school dances and sleepovers, have first crushes, and grow closer as sisters despite their differences.
This sweet, contemporary take on part one of the beloved novel Little Women is the perfect introduction for young readers to the March family. With a craft project or recipe at the end of every chapter, Littler Women is sure to become a cherished favorite.
(Hey there, Sense and Sensibility and Sea Creatures. And yes, I know it's partially satire, But still, did we really need that book in the world?)
So it was with a bit of hesitant eye that I went into Littler Women. I've adored Louisa May Alcott's classic since a family friend put it into my young, six-year-old hands, and it's been a constant comfort for me ever since. I still reread it once a year, and well - I was really hesitant at the idea of anyone reimagining it for the twenty-first century.
And while I wouldn't say that Littler Women is perfect, I do think that if read in conjunction with the original, it is a nice, relatable take on the classic story. Schaefer has obviously been scrupulous about maintaining the structural integrity of the story as much as possible, making the smooth transition from balls to middle school dance, and from private tutors to math tutors. She's also made it a point of adjusting the story slightly at times, so it makes more cohesive sense - e.g. Mr. Laurence's gift to Beth, actually makes more sense than it did in the original version.
(It's kind of hard to explain if you haven't read either, but in the original, Mr. Laurence kindly gives Beth something that takes her away from doing what they both enjoyed. I actually prefer this alternative.)
But where the reimagined version doesn't necessarily work for me though, is in how Schafer treats the ages of the characters. Littler Women loses a certain degree of gravitas from the original tale, because the characters feel like they've been aged down. While kids these days certainly have more time to grow up than the young women of Louisa's time, the March sisters of this book just feel overall younger. Consequently, a lot of their trials and tribulations don't have the same emotional impact of the original. A lot of what they undergo feels less like a coming-of-age journey, and more just like a casual snapshot of their lives. Which is fine on its own, but when compared to the source material, feels a little lacking.
Consequently, if readers want to read Littler Women, they should do it in conjunction with the original. It's two halves of a whole, and will make the overall reading experience more enjoyable.
Strongly recommend, with conditions.
About the author:
Laura Schaefer is the author of The Teashop Girls, The Secret Ingredient, and Littler Women. She lives in Orlando, Florida, with her husband and daughter. When she’s not writing middle grade novels, you might find her scoping out local coffee shops, taking long walks with only partially working headphones, and poking around the library for treasures. Laura’s favorite Little Women character is Jo (whose isn’t?), but she confesses to a strong fondness for Amy as well. Visit her online at LauraSchaeferWriter.com or follow her on Twitter at @TeaShopGirl.