Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The Moffats

The author has succeeded in conveying the large significance of small events in children's children experience them. ~Library Journal

I couldn't have said it better myself. (And believe me, I tried.) The Moffats is another gem added to the shared landscape of our imaginations. Eleanor Estes is brilliant when it comes to thinking like a child. From the sense of awe inspired by the chief of police, to the dread felt every time Jane saw the For Sale sign on their little yellow house, so many of the experiences related in this tale really resonated with me. I wish I had read it in my childhood but am so glad to have shared it with Levi.

The story seems to revolve mostly around Jane who is nine years old, although the other siblings certainly play often into the plot. Joey is twelve and Sylvie, fifteen. Rufus, 'the baby', has turned five and starts school for the first time.

Published in 1941, The Moffats contains a refreshing vocabulary and many outdated references which always add to our discussions. Hitching posts, coal stoves, and scarlet fever are things which seem foreign to us in this day and time. I love the independence, ingenuity, resourcefulness, and respect shown so often by children in older stories. Families also had to make do or do without much of the time.

Why is it, I think I've asked before, that a large percentage of children's books appear to have a parent missing? The Railway Children, The Saturdays, The Penderwicks.... Mama is the lone parent in this book, Papa having died when Rufus was just a tiny baby.

Our favorite words found on the pages of The Moffats:

utmost dejection
diminishing fervor

A humorous byproduct of the older literature we have been reading (even his reading time with Dad--The Hardy Boys), Levi has taken to calling me 'Mother' in a charming voice rather than Mom.


Jennefer said...

We most definitely need to check out this book. It looks wonderful.

I passed an award onto you on my recent blog post. Check it out when you get a chance. It's the Nice Matters Award; you certainly deserve it. I would love to meet you IRL someday! And hire you to design my home, too! :)


Laura said...

This book was one of my favorites as a child - maybe I should consider reading aloud to my younger children now... Thanks for the review!

Sherry said...

I never thought about the one-parent motif. Lots of children's books have no parents at all present. Either the parentsare absent or dead or just don't figure into the story. I think that's because it's a fantasy of children to think about what they would do if there were not parents around to tell them what to do. What if I were in charge? What is it like to be grown-up? I don't know about the one parent family, though. Maybe it's just less adult interaction for the author to handle, so he "kills off" one of the parents.

Nikki in Niagara said...

Oh wonderful book! I remember these and read Rufus M to my oldest.

I went through a period where my oldest called me "Ma" after we'd read several books set in Pioneer times.

Framed said...

Wonderful review. This book looks like one I will need to read to my grandson when he's a few years older. Thanks