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Mary Jane: Her Book by Clara Ingram Judson

Mary Jane: Her Book

by Clara Ingram Judson

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Series: Mary Jane (1)

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Mary Jane is a sweet and innocent little girl living in the early twentieth-century. Her days are filled with delightful discoveries, playtime and adventures. On the cusp of turning five, her actions and behaviours often cause disastrous results (always easily remedied), but are never undertaken with malignant intent.

Each chapter reads like a snapshot, or short vignette – capturing sweet memories of childhood and little-girlisms. Chapters featuring strong attachments to dolls, imaginary friends, helping father in the garden, birthday parties, delighting in nature, and so many more adventures are strung together like sparkling glass baubles on a string threaded by awkward, childish fingers. They reflect the glittering, dancing joy of the endless, timeless days that make up childhood.

Mary Jane - Her Book was originally printed in 1918, written by prolific award winning author Clara Ingram Judson. With over 70 children’s titles to her name this multi-genre author was a recipient of several Newberry Honour Awards. Judson posthumously became the second recipient of the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award for a substantial and lasting contribution to children’s literature; the award’s first recipient was Laura Ingalls Wilder herself.

The first of the Mary Jane series of stories for young girls, Mary Jane – Her Book was republished in 2007 by Daniel Mills of Salem Ridge Press. A recent graduate from his family’s Christian homeschool, Daniel carefully chooses notable out-of-print titles to republish and offer to new generations of readers. Each of his selections emphasizes wholesome moral character while offering glimpses into diverse historical periods and locales. Careful design including wide margins and larger text size produce the perfect amount of white space for young readers striking out into chapter books on their own.

Many in our jaded society would consider an innocent book for young girls featuring scenes of dress-up, picnics, and childish mishaps somewhat dull. Judson’s keen insight into the mind of a child and the simple pleasures found in the smallest details of life proves otherwise. When read aloud to my standard audience, ages five, two and five months, everyone listened closely, while the two oldest asked questions and I laughed aloud in delight on many occasions. If possible, I think I may have enjoyed reading this book more than my daughters enjoyed hearing it read – though they certainly appreciated it as well. The similarities of Mary Jane to my own dear children amused me to no end. Judson’s experiences as a mother of two little girls shine through in her portrayal of an idyllic childhood.

At the time of the novels original printing it would seem that children did not engage in ‘stranger-danger’ training with their children. Mary Jane goes to the corner store alone at the age of four, and her neighbour Doris hops into the family car with Mary Jane and her father without informing her parents. In our culture we must vigilantly warn our children against such behaviours. Some of the incidents depicted in Mary Jane led to further discussion and instruction regarding child safety while explaining that some periods in the past were safer for small children.

Based upon my children’s enthusiastic reception of Mary Jane and her family into our home, I hope to make them regular guests on our family’s bookshelves. Well, let’s be honest – I look forward to reading more of her adventures myself!

Reviewed at http://quiverfullfamily.com ( )
  jenniferbogart | Dec 12, 2008 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Clara Ingram Judsonprimary authorall editionscalculated
White, FrancesIllustratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Book description
First in the famous series about Mary Jane Merrill and her older sister Alice, who live in Chicago but travel widely.

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