The day after Cousin Helen leaves, Aunt Izzy forbids Katy from swinging on the new swing in the shed. This is because the staple holding the swing up has come loose, but Aunt Izzy won't tell Katy that, believing that children should obey their elders without question. Katy is being punished by the author for her spunk, her individuality, her budding sexuality, her unwillingness to obey every order that she's given without question--everything, in short, that makes her an enjoyable character, and indeed, human being.
Well, I didn't have any intention to read this today, but after spying a review on my newsfeed yesterday, I thought it might be good to see if my original 3 star rating still holds up today.
Back then I associated with the tomboy Katy and her imaginative stories and games. As one who suffered a few years back with back pain that had me incapacitated and housebound for five months, a lot of what Helen said was sound advice about attitude.
When I was little, I read a ton of older children's books. Even though I was reminded a lot of other books like Pollyanna or Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm when I read What Katy Did, I had to remember that What Katy Did predated these books by over 30 years. What Katy Did was actually written shortly after Louisa May Alcott wrote the revolutionary children's book, Little Women (first published in 1868). In fact, Susan Coolidge's books were often compared to Louisa May Alcott's back when they were first published in the 19th century.
It's kind of disappointing to see how people want to compare this book to other classics. I truly believe that evey book has something different to convey so it wouldn't be fair to dislike a book only because it doesn't come down to the level of other great books.
Like many girls, I read and enjoyed What Katy Did as a child. The childrens Aunt Izzie now lives with them. She is kind, and does her best to look after the children, but she is old-fashioned and rather strict: Aunt Izzie was a small woman, sharp-faced and thin, rather old-looking, and very neat and particular about everything. She meant to be kind to the children, but they puzzled her much, because they were not a bit like herself when she was a child It was very perplexing to Aunt Izzie, and she found it hard to quite forgive the children for being so unaccountable, and so little like the good boys and girls in Sunday-school memoirs, who were the young people she liked best, and understood most about. When the childrens cousin, Helen, comes to visit, Katy is so impressed by her beauty and kindness despite her challenges as an invalid, that on the day of Helens departure she resolves to be more like Helen. (view spoiler)The very next day, Katy wakes in such a bad mood that she quarrels with her aunt, and pushes her little sister so hard that she falls down some steps. Eventually cousin Helen comes to visit, and shows her that she must either learn to make the best of things, or she will drive her family away. Helen tells Katy that she is now a student in the School of Pain where she will learn lessons in courage, patience, cheerfulness, hopefulness, neatness, and making the best of things: But you must recollect that every time you forget, and are impatient or selfish, you chill them and drive them farther away. Katy becomes loved and admired by her family for her kindness and good cheer, even though her life is now so constrained.
There were six of the Carr children four girls and two boys. Eight year old Elsie Carr doesn't want to play with the little ones she longs to do everything with her two older sisters Katy and Clover. Dorry Carr is six he and his sister Johnnie are very close and like to do everything together.
This is a wonderful book in the vein of those other, more well-known classics, about a loving, rough-and-tumble family lead by the headstrong Katy.
If you want to read a classic children's book, go read Little Women.
Sarah Chauncey Woolsey was an American children's author who wrote under the pen name Susan Coolidge.