In the Bookcase


Closing the 2015 Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge

"He who believes is strong; he who doubts is weak. Strong convictions precede great actions."
- Louisa May Alcott

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge ... JUNE 2015

Dearest readers,

I thank you for joining me this month in the Louisa May Alcott reading challenge. It has been amazing for me to relish in the writings of Miss Alcott right alongside you all. It seems Rose in Bloom (the sequel to Eight Cousins) was a popular choice among the challenge participants; it has been great seeing all the varying opinions on the same book. We all chose a good variety of books written by and about the charming Louisa May Alcott. (I found some excellent titles to add to my TBR list!)

I personally read 2 books for the challenge. You can see my reviews for each book:
Rose in Bloom // Little Women Next Door

Woman at a Window, 1822, C.D. Friedrich
Woman at a Window, 1822, C.D. Friedrich
Similar to opening scene of Chapter 2, Rose in Bloom

What books did you enjoy for the Louisa May Alcott challenge?

// Join the challenge... //

Submit your Louisa May Alcott blog or social media posts on the linky below. Any and ALL of your posts about Miss Alcott are welcome. If you decide to share a favorite quote, a book review, or any other thoughts... link up and take a look at some of the other participants' posts. Thank you for joining us!

My friends -- same time next year?


Book Review: The Little Prince

The Little Prince

The Little Prince

written by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

98 pages // published in 1940 // children's fiction

My Review...

5 Star Rating

Le Petit Prince is the original French title of this charming children's book -- (or perhaps it's an adult's book?) The easy words, simple ideas, elementary lessons, and watercolor pictures might make a person believe it's for children. Think again. The design of the plot may be only a small part of a interwoven web of big notions.

"And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye." ― Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

The Little Prince is written to make one see adults from a child's perspective -- how serious that adults seem to always be, not looking at life from a cheery, fun viewpoint. One might see the book as being written as a comical little muse. Children will enjoy it as a picture book. Adults will enjoy it for the truths the words hide.

The author, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, was born in 1900 in Lyon, France. Mesmerized with flight in his childhood, he eventually became a pilot in the military, serving during World War II. He dreamed big -- just as this book shows. But his ultimate dream of flying nabbed him from this world in 1944, he himself much like The Little Prince. His most famous work published only a year before his untimely death.

Reading to Know - Book Club
Stop by Carrie's blog to join!

P.S. Like and vote for this review on Goodreads and Amazon.


Curation of Alcott-themed gifts & products

Today I'm sharing a list of beautiful products featuring the famous Louisa May Alcott and her books. These handmade items from Etsy are perfect for gift ideas for your literature-minded friends and family! (Or, as a gift to yourself, of course.)

Please, enjoy....

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge ... JUNE 2015

'Louisa May Alcott, 19th Century Authoress' by PixelBerryPieDesigns

For lovers of Little Women and the rest of Miss Alcott's beautiful writings.

Little Women Writing Gloves

Louisa May Alcott Hand-Cut P...

Little Women Book Necklace -...

Samsung Galaxy S6 S5 and Not...

Little Women Bracelet - She ...

Let Us Be Elegant - Little W...

Little Women Quote "I a...

She is too fond of books nec...

Little Women Book Clutch

iPhone 6 iPhone 6 plus Littl...

Little Women Pillow Cover 14...

Paper Doll - Louisa May Alco...

Her Life Was a Series of Ups...

Meg March of Little Women Ov...

Louisa May Alcott LETTERPRES...

Louisa May Alcott QUOTE // L...
Powered By Handmadeology

// About the reading challenge... //

Just as a reminder: the Louisa May Alcott challenge is coming to a close in just 4 more days. Our final checkup point will be posted on June 30th, and you can share your reviews and thoughts on the challenge on that day or anytime afterwards.


Book Review: Little Women Next Door

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge ... JUNE 2015

Little Women Next Door

Little Women Next Door

written by Sheila Solomon Klass

188 pages // published in 2000 // children's fiction

My Review...

5 Star Rating

Little Women Next Door is a fictional biographical account of Louisa May Alcott as a young girl. The hard work of the author (Klass) shines through, as she brings to light many points that show us how Louisa grew into the writer who penned the American classic, Little Women.

The story is told to us through the eyes of a young girl, Susan, neighbor to the Alcotts. She receives the delightful opportunity to watch all the interesting things the Alcotts do and gets to befriend Louisa herself.

What I learned about... THE ALCOTTS...
Before reading this book, I understood that the Alcotts led a "different" life, compared to the other people of their time, but I didn't quite understand how or why. Now I feel like I've been introduced to many concepts and the basic ideas that the Alcotts tried to capture and implement at their farm, Fruitlands.

The "Newness" that the Alcott practiced (or their Transcendentalism) led them to do odd things by many standards. For starters, the family became vegans -- to the point of not even using animal products for clothing or household necessities. To use a sheep for its wool was to turn the animal into a slave.

So much so did the family oppose slavery (human or animal), that even though they were Christians, they left the church because the church did not actually condemn slavery. So they became Consociates. Their lifestyle closely resembled Quakers and Shakers.

"First, sir, I want to assure you that I am a Christian, and it is my belief that Jesus Christ was the wisest teacher ever to come on earth." (Chapter 4, Little Women Next Door)

The men grew beards when most other farmers didn't.

"Child, this beard is mighty costly." He stroked the edges of it fondly. "It cost me a whole year in jail." (Chapter 4, Little Women Next Door)

What I learned about... LOUISA...
As for Louisa May Alcott herself. Oh, what a joy she was as a child -- if this book is anything to go by! What struck me first in Klass's representation of Louisa in that the girl bubbles over with an Anne Shirley mentality. She loves using big words, dreaming up the most daring ideas, and rather doesn't mind silly things. As the main character of the story, Susan, believes... Louisa was "born brave". In the words of Mr. Alcott, Louisa had a "marvelously creative mind".

Louey said, "I shall be a famous actress and write things that earn trunkfuls of money. And I shall never be a young lady. I'm going to be a scapegrace." (Chapter 5, Little Women Next Door)

Even the famous poets, Emerson and Thoreau, make their appearance in the story. Both of these writers were great friends of the Alcotts, and most likely inspired Louisa to take up her own pen.

I did so enjoy this book, and greatly recommend it to anyone interested in where Louisa May Alcott came from. Her family was certainly unique, and it makes for a great study in history to see how the ideas of Transcendentalism affected her career as a 19th-century authoress.

NOTE to the discerning reader & parents: Some (very minor) language is used. Particularly a certain phrase that the girls take a liking to, and is sometimes repeated.

P.S. See this review on Goodreads and Amazon.


Book Review: Rose in Bloom

Louisa May Alcott Reading Challenge ... JUNE 2015

Rose in Bloom

Rose in Bloom // sequel to Eight Cousins

written by Louisa May Alcott

98 pages // published in 1876 // literary classic

My Review...

5 Star Rating

Rose in Bloom is a beautiful gem of a book, penned by the same hand which authored the time-honored novel Little Women. This is the sequel to the charming volume entitled Eight Cousins. A more "grown-up" Rose Campbell returns to her family clan after travelling around the world with her friend Phebe as companion.

I love this book because Rose in independent, yet desires to serve others. Suffice it to say, she is a good role model for girls. I found her to be very much selfless. Even though Rose possesses personal wealth, she wishes not to shower herself with glories but to disperse it to those less fortunate. Creating a lifestyle considered progressive for a woman (especially in the 1800s), Rose in blooming into a mature woman of society with tender confidence.

Since I cannot describe Miss Rose Campbell as well as the author once did, here's a direct picture of our blossoming heroine:

"Not a remarkably gifted girl in any way, and far from perfect; full of all manner of youthful whims and fancies; a little spoiled by much love; rather apt to think all lives as safe and sweet as her own; and, when want or pain appealed to her, the tender heart overflowed with a remorseful charity which gave of its abundance recklessly. Yet, with all her human imperfections, the upright nature of the child kept her desires climbing toward the just and pure and true, as flowers struggle to the light; and the woman's soul was budding beautifully under the green leaves behind the little thorns." (Chapter 3, Rose in Bloom)

With her seven male cousins surrounding her, along with the odd assortment of various aunts and uncles, there are many who desire to see Rose grow. They cherish her presence among themselves and attempt to flatter her at every turn. Advances in love flourish as Rose once again settles among the people she knows best in the world.

Phebe Moore, Rose's befriended maid, too is experiencing her own way of making it into society -- only through a different course. Her life has always been destined to contrast Rose's, as her place on the social ladder started out on a much lower rung. Quickly she is learning how to climb higher though, and soon wins the heart of a familiar face, without intended design. However, the social implications simply couldn't converge for a winning marriage. So what can a girl do?

As usual, Louisa May Alcott has written another charming book. The story contains many good life lessons. As Rose tries life out on her own, sometimes becoming a bit too daring or risky with her choices, she soon makes her way back and settles into routine. In essence, the reader learns much of Victorian idealism and traditions of young adults during that time. I did so enjoy getting to catch glimpses of what all of those Eight Cousins became as they turn into adults.

In closing, enjoy some advice on life from dearest cousin, Mac Campbell ("the Worm" was always my favorite of Rose's cousins anyway):

"I have my dreams and aspirations, and some of them are pretty high ones. Aim at the best, you know, and keep climbing if you want to get on." (Chapter 2, Rose in Bloom)

Grab the free ebook online via Project Gutenberg or Amazon.

P.S. See this review on Goodreads and Amazon.