miércoles, 13 de abril de 2016

Growing Up: Little Women [NEW SECTION OF "HUMANISMS"] once in a while

Growing Up: Little Women


Growing Up: Little Women
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Little Women
by Louisa May Alcott
written for ages 9-12 | highly recommended
published in 2014 (1868) | Puffin | 816 pages

During my Primary school years in Elizabeth, New Jersey, avid readers shared books or went to local libraries on foot and by bicycle. Boys read as much fiction and biography as girls, and novels about growing up were very popular whether their protagonists were male or female. Among my close female friends, the great favourites were tales about family life: especially, the Louisa May Alcott series about the March family, set in America and beginning with Little Women, and the CanadianAnne of Green Gables series by L.M. Montgomery.

Recently I re-read both series after buying the books second-hand. Like all great writers, Alcott has an immediately striking command of language and a strong sense of history. Almost at once, therefore, I saw why Little Women had been my favourite childhood book, read so many times that it fell apart and had to be replaced. A modern classic, whose essential features are as appealing now as they were in the 1940s, it is about four sisters living with their devoted mother in Concord, Massachusetts, making do while their father is far away serving as a chaplain in the Civil War. Living in near poverty, and doing without pleasures once taken for granted, sorely tries them.

The quiet journey of the oldest March sister, Meg, takes her into the arms of John Brooke, the teacher who instructs next-door-neighbour Laurie, a lively fatherless boy being raised by his slightly forbidding grandfather, James Laurence. This elderly gentleman, who is not at all frightening when the March family gets to know him, is partial to Beth, the third daughter, who reminds him of the adored grandchild whom he lost years earlier. The piano that he generously gives Beth fills her life with joy—not least, because she is both shy and sickly, spending most of her time indoors.

It is art, not just music and sewing, that confers daily delights in the March household—especially for the youngest of the sisters, Amy. Although her drawings and sculpture are almost flawless, the diction errors that she makes with unfailing regularity amuse everyone in her life. Typically, Amy confuses ordinary words like ‘vampire’ with inventions, in this case ‘samphire’; and she regularly uses fractured French terms instead of the correct ones. It is, however, the blunders of Jo, the awkward tomboy most like Alcott herself, four years Amy’s senior, that take centre stage.

Jo’s intense efforts to be more virtuous are typically as unpredictable as they are engaging. When she helps to organise a holiday cooking project, forgetting to check the oven, everything burns. Staging home theatricals, one of which is an elaborate Dickensian comedy, she makes the original Sarah Gamp seem only minimally eccentric. To her amazement she inadvertently discovers one day that her loving mother, Marmee, has had problems controlling her temper very like her own. At a local ball, wearing a beautiful dress that she has burned while ironing it, she manages nonetheless to have a marvellous time dancing in a large private room with her dear friend Laurie.

Hard as she tries, Jo does not come fully into her own until she goes to New York to earn her own living as a governess. There she meets the love of her life, Professor Friedrich Bhaer, whom she eventually marries. With her husband she manages both to run a home for orphans (in Little Men) and to publish fiction. Nevertheless, this stage of her growing up is no more testing than earlier stages lovingly delineated by Alcott, who was raised in Concord. Particularly instructive is Josy-phine’s resilience. Nothing, not even the exceptionally demanding behaviour of her crusty Aunt March, defeats her for long.

This reflection is the first in a series about Growing Up that will describe fiction set in different parts of the world. For most of her life, starting in Year 3, Susan Reibel Moore has taught Reading, Writing, and literature.
- See more at: http://www.mercatornet.com/bookreviews/view/growing-up-little-women/17897#sthash.470zAzgE.dpuf


Common Core educational standards have not surfaced in the US election as one of the key issues, as pundits once predicted. Opinions are split, but not necessarily on party lines. Republican candidate John Kasich supports them, but they are rubbished by his opponents Ted Cruz (“abolish the Department of Education” and Donald Trump (“a total disaster”).
Bernie Sanders has said nothing specific on the issue, but supports them. Hillary Clinton recognises that there have been problems with the roll-out of the Common Core but says “I have always supported national standards”.
Below, the President of the National Association of Scholars and author of the a book on the controversial program gives his opinion in an interview with Carolyn Moynihan. 
ONE LAST THING: We've just opened a survey about your favourite books. We'd like to know what your favourites about heroes and heroines of conscience are. You may enter as many times as you like. It's a kind of crowd-sourcing of the wisdom of MercatorNet readers. Click here to do the surveyhttp://goo.gl/3um2fe 

Michael Cook

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But will it work?
Steve Jobs
Paolo Braga | POPCORN | 13 April 2016
'You can be decent and gifted at the same time' sums up the film's message.
Growing Up: Little Women
Susan Reibel Moore | READING MATTERS | 13 April 2016
The first in a series of articles about coming of age books.
Two life factors that prevent debt
Nicole M. King | FAMILY EDGE | 13 April 2016
Hint: the family has everything to do with it.
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MercatorNet: How China is rolling out the red carpet for couples who have more than one child

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