Hitty, her first hundred years

by Rachel Field

Other authorsDorothy Pulis Lathrop (Illustrator)
Paper Book, 1929



Local notes

Fic Fie



New York, The Macmillan Company, 1929.


Hitty is a doll of great charm and character. It is indeed a privilege to publish her memoirs, which, besides being full of the most thrilling adventures on land and sea, also reveal her delightful personality. One glance at her portrait will show that she is no ordinary doll. Hitty, or Mehitable as she was really named, was made in the early 1800s for Phoebe Preble, a little girl from Maine. Young Phoebe was very proud of her beautiful doll and took her everywhere, even on a long sailing trip in a whaler. This is the story of Hitty's years with Phoebe, and the many that follow in the life of a well-loved doll.



Original publication date


Physical description

207 p.; 22 cm


0027348407 / 9780027348408



User reviews

LibraryThing member sylvatica
Ah, books of a certain era – I recommend this one with a ‘but…’ similar to Dr. Dolittle – there is rampant American/European superiority throughout this book, which is not surprising, but needs to be addressed nonetheless. Hitty is an engaging character, and her story is also a nice gloss over American history from the early 1800s to early 1900s. The conceit of a doll who is able to control her limbs enough to write is nice – as a child, you always suspect that your toys are able to do things when you’re not looking. A sweet, if odd, story. (pannarrens)… (more)
LibraryThing member debnance
Copyright date: 1929…Odd to think that my mother might have run across this book as a little girl and read it….I remember reading it myself as a little girl. Like many of the older Newbery books, it is a vision into the past, a little trip into life for kids before TV and computers and IPods. Hitty is a wooden doll made in the early 1800’s. Her underpants are embroidered with her name and along the way she becomes the most literate of dolls. One girl after another owns her, though her painted features fade and her various dresses come and go. She has a series of exciting adventures: she lands in a tree, in a shipwrecked, on a deserted island worshipped as an idol (!), on a steamship, under the cushion of an old couch, in an exhibition, and, finally, in an antique store. She manages to survive all her adventures with her dignity intact, finding a way to take pleasure in even the least interesting of her situations.… (more)
LibraryThing member Cheryl_in_CC_NV
I enjoyed this almost as much as I did the (at least two) times I read it as a child. It's not pc, of course, but in the context it's fairly respectful and compassionate - in fact it's a good exploration of lots of different ways people have lived. The foreshadowing, especially in the beginning, got a little tiresome (little did we know...") but in the main it was gracefully written. If I do ever get into woodworking I will seek out mountain ash for crafts I want to last!"… (more)
LibraryThing member t1bclasslibrary
This is the dramatic story of a doll who ends up on a whole host of adventures. She is lost at sea and found, worshipped as an idol on an island, used by a snake charmer in India, kept as part of a museum, and owned by a variety of little girls. All this is from the doll's perspective, with a definite opinion and point of view. I'm not into talking doll books, but this might get interest because the doll was on so many adventures.… (more)
LibraryThing member foggidawn
In the early 1800's, a peddler carves a doll for a little girl of his acquaintance out of a sturdy piece of mountain ash wood. The doll is painted and dressed and given the name Mehitabel -- Hitty, for short. Over the course of her life, Hitty travels around the world by boat, by train, and eventually by automobile in the hands of various little girls (and sometimes, briefly, boys, men, and women). A hundred years later, she ends up in an antique shop, from whence she tells her story -- but are her adventures through? Hitty doesn't think so!

I was surprised at how readable I found this book. Though Hitty's adventures are episodic, I found that the plot carried me right along, always wondering where Hitty would end up next and how she would get out of whatever scrape she found herself in. I think that, if I had read this as a child, I would have enjoyed it immensely. After all, who doesn't imagine that their toys and dolls secretly come to life when nobody is watching? However, due to several problematic depictions in the book ("red injuns," "heathen savages," and African-American families speaking in an unflattering dialect, among other things), I probably wouldn't recommend this to children today, at least, not unless they were reading it with a good deal of adult guidance.
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LibraryThing member The_Hibernator
While sitting idly one evening in her antique shop, Hitty, a 6-inch-long doll carved out of Mountain Ash wood, decides to write her memoirs. She begins her narration with her birth into the brave new world of 1830's Maine. Her little girl drags her on many adventures beginning first with their village and ending in a far-off land...where she finds a new owner. Follow Hitty's adventures over a hundred years as she changes hands and lands and occupations. This is an adorable little classic of historical fiction for 8-9 year-old girls. The story is sweet and generally easy to read (though some of the historical references went over my head, and the book succumbed to the racial stereotyping common for books written around the turn of the century). I'm glad I finally picked this one up.… (more)
LibraryThing member SHARONTHEIL
Rachel Field was the first woman to win the Newbery Medal, for her book Hitty: Her First Hundred Years. This book combines two popular genres of children's literature: the toy story and historic fiction. This is the tale of a doll named Hitty as she tells her story of the first hundred years of her life. The other doll story to win the Newbery Medal, Miss Hickory, is also historic fiction, and teaches young readers what life was like in the 19th century. The story's writing is lovely; however, the story lacks the strong conflicts and universal themes that today’s young readers enjoy, so the book seems out of date.… (more)
LibraryThing member satyridae
Lovely, lovely book. A favorite from my childhood that has worn exceedingly well. Hitty is a doll carved from mountain ash who has the most exciting adventures. Do not read the new bastardized revision that has nothing to do with the original. Accept no substitutes!
LibraryThing member AbigailAdams26
Originally published in 1929, and chosen as the Newbery Medal Winner in 1930, Rachel Field's Hitty, Her First Hundred Years is the charming autobiography of an American doll, and her many adventures, over the course of a century. Created from mountain-ash - a wood said to bring good luck, and ward off evil - by a wandering peddler, and given to young Phoebe Preble, Hitty's life began in the state of Maine (although her wood came, like her peddler creator, from Ireland), but soon took her to all parts of the globe. Sailing out of Boston with the Prebles, on a whaling voyage, going overboard in a shipwreck, washing up on a South Seas island where she was worshiped as an idol, becoming lost in India, being found by missionaries, being stolen from a Cotton Exhibition in New Orleans, and finally, being auctioned as an antique, Hitty's first hundred years was full indeed, of colorful incidents, and multiple owners. What was constant throughout, was her keen interest in, and observation of, the world around her, and her philosophical approach to the ups and downs of a doll's life.

Well-written and immensely engaging, this is a book I would like to be able to recommend wholeheartedly. There is much of value here: the many period details, which Field always seems to get just right; the snap-shot view of American history, as seen from a unique perspective; and an utterly enchanting heroine, who manages to be believable, both as doll and as narrator. Unfortunately, there are also some dated elements, particularly in the depiction of non-European peoples: the "frightening" Indians of Maine, the "heathen" South Sea Islanders, the "dirty" Indian snake-charmer, the "happy" African-American plantation workers. What's interesting, in all of this - something raised in The Newbery Book-Club to which I belong, is the fact that Hitty herself often takes a more liberal, tolerant view of these different human groups, as compared to her various European or Euro-American owners.

I think there's definitely something to this idea (hence the fact that this got knocked down from four to three stars, rather than from four to two), but even Hitty's perspective sometimes still felt a little condescending to me. Still, given the unique quality of the narrative, I can certainly understand why long-time fans of the book were outraged at the recent Rosemary Wells rewrite. I think that, in the end, the good qualities of this title are sufficient to retain it as a reading selection for young people, with the caveat that responsible adults should be sure to engage them in a discussion of some of the socially anachronistic content.
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LibraryThing member jopearson56
This is the neat story of a doll, carved from Mountain Ash wood in the early part of the 18th century, and the many owners and adventures she has in her first hundred years. The doll narrates the story and has such a lovely way of speaking, you are always rooting for her and admiring her patience in difficult situations. I wish I knew where her antique store is: I'd buy her and give her more adventures!… (more)
LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
In a nutshell Hitty: Her First Hundred Years is about the first hundred years of a doll's life. Made out of well-seasoned mountain-ash wood, Hitty is a sturdy, made to last doll. She is given to a small girl named Phoebe Preble sometime in the early 1800s. The Preble family makes their home outside of Portland, Maine and Phoebe's father is a whaling captain. When we first meet Hitty, she is a resident of an antique store and has set out to write the memoirs of the first hundred years of her life. And what a life the first hundred have been! During her time with the Preble family she was abandoned in a church, kidnapped by crows, taken out to sea where her ship first springs a leak and later catches on fire; she becomes lost at sea, found again only to be given away as a heathen idol, and finally, dropped somewhere in India - never to be seen by the Preble family again. Hitty (whose real name is Mehitabel) goes on to be owned by a succession of little girls, some kind, some not. There are great periods of time when she is stored in an attic trunk or wedged in couch cushions. One hundred years goes by very quickly for both Hitty and the reader. (I was able to read the whole book in less than three hours.)… (more)
LibraryThing member Merleiv
a must read..a whirlwind tour of American history...fun...!!!
LibraryThing member cmbohn
Just finished this one. Really an entertaining story, although the pace was sometimes rather slow. For a doll, Hitty had a very exciting life! I remember enjoying this story as a girl and it was still fun to read.
LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
This was an enjoyable book to read. It was unique in that the narrator is timeless and so is looking at things from a unique perspective. The fact that Hitty was passed around so much and yet somehow ended back where she started at the beginning of the book was a little contrived, but it made for fun reading anyhow.
LibraryThing member writerbeverly
4.5 stars. Long time ago, back in 4th grade, a librarian recommended this book to me; I read it, and liked it, but didn't feel it had made a huge impression. Yet it kept coming back to me over the years, so I decided to give it a re-read.

Hitty the doll was about a hundred years old; this story, published in 1929, is getting close. Some things have held up fairly well; the story of a small, hand-carved doll, going from beloved companion to heathen idol to fashion model and more, is fascinating, and the device - told in first person from the POV of the doll - is probably one of the most unique literary devices ever. The illustrations, too, are charming, and help reinforce the idea that while the doll belongs to various owners, generally children, she herself is an adult, with a deliberately pleasant expression.

Other details, like Hitty's ash-wood complexion, became a little rougher with the passing of time. The author did not know about political correctness in 1929; some of the stories, like that of being carried on a whaling vessel, are fascinating, yet at the same time horrifying to those of us who understand whales to be sentient beings. The depiction of people of color - in India, and America isn't - QUITE - racist, but borders on it; the depiction of "heathens" as bowing down and worshiping the doll because she had jointed limbs is ridiculous.

I wouldn't hand this book to a child today without reading it along with her/him and explaining some of these issues. But there is a tremendous amount of entertainment here; it certainly stokes the imagination, wondering where the doll will wind up next. The revelations about human nature - some of the doll's owners prized her, for various reasons, otherwise were more lackadaisical, even abusive, are still applicable today. The descriptions of Maine and its foliage are also beautiful. And the doll's voice - a somewhat prim, stiff (well, she IS wooden) older lady - is wonderful.
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LibraryThing member graycl
Summary: This book is about a doll named Hitty and she is writing about everything that happened in her lifetime, before coming to an antique shop. She was made by the Old Peddler who carved her out of mountain-ash wood. They say mountain-ash wood wards off evil and it is lucky. She was made for a little girl named Phoebe Preble. After quite some time together, Phoebe is forced to give Hitty to some natives. Hitty is rescued from the natives. Phoebe and Hitty stay together until India,where Phoebe drops her never to see her again. Hitty is found by some Hindu's and is sold to some missionaries. Hitty is stuffed in a couch by the missionary's daughter. Several years later she is found by a little Quaker girl. When the little girl gets tired of Hitty, she gives her to a servant girl. Hitty stays with the servant girl until she is stolen. She becomes famous from her travels. These are just a few of Hitty's adventures before she ends up in the Antique Shop.
Personal Reaction: This book is filled with a lot of adventure and excitement. I liked there being so many places visited by Hitty and how she got from one place to another. I know my children have had certain dolls or toys that they still have, and my children have many good memories with them, so I can kind of relate to this.
Classroom Extension Ideas: Let the students bring something they have that is special to them, which it can be a doll or some other memento,to class and talk about it.
We can make paper dolls or if they have something special they would like to draw or make, we will to this in class.
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LibraryThing member jjmcgaffey
Cute! 1929 and it shows its age - Hitty has a firm sense of modesty, and of her appearance, and Opinions on people and especially their clothes. Still, it's enjoyable, if highly unlikely - I don't know how lucky she was for the people she was with, but she certainly had an unreasonable lot of luck in being found and returned to her people several times, or moving on to new homes. Much better than Miss Hickory, with a similar flavor. Glad I read it, though I doubt I'll bother to re-read.… (more)
LibraryThing member fingerpost
What an odd book. These are the memoirs of a doll. Literally.
And apart from a couple of major caveats, it's not bad. But the book was written in 1929. Sensibilities and what was considered acceptable were much different then. The modern reader will likely find it somewhat offensive that South Seas island natives are referred to as savages and heathens, and will find it highly offensive, as I did, on the mercifully few pages where Southern black characters speak in dialect. Extreme dialect. Anyone who wasn't white and Christian was viewed as inherently inferior. (Though interestingly, Hitty herself seem to take a slightly more liberal view than the humans of her era do.) These were things that few if any readers in 1929 would have been bothered by, but any modern reader will.
That said... The doll is hand crafted sometime in the chronological vicinity of 1825. The story begins in present day (that being 1929) and the doll is on the shelves of an antique dealer. She decides to pick up a quill and write her memoirs. Fortunately for us, she has quite a remarkable memory. We are regaled with her highly adventurous life story, through a number of owners, both children and adults. The writing style is reminiscent of Daniel Defoe's in Robinson Crusoe. It was sort of a "Red Violin" type story.
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LibraryThing member ChazziFrazz
I remember reading this in elementary school. When I found this copy I thought I'd re-read it.

Hitty, short for Mehitable, is a small doll carved out of mountain ash wood. Her face, hair and shoes are painted on, and she wears a chemise with her name embroidered on it. Her arms and legs don't bend, but he can be made to sit and put her arms up. She is a plain doll, but being carved during the early 1800s she is adequate.

At the time of this book, Hitty is figured to be a little over 100 years old. She feels it is time to write down all that she had been through. Created in Maine for a young girl, Phoebe Preble, who carries the doll where ever she goes. Going on a trip on a whaling ship and winding up stranded on a tropical island inhabited by natives. Being lost in India and becoming the doll of missionary's daughter. Time spent as a secret possession of the daughter of a Mississippi paddle wheel captain.

She experiences a wide range of adventures over the 100 years, and this book is the compilation of them.

Written in 1929, the book was given the Newbery award for 1930. Written in a proper and slightly stilted style, it adds to the feeling of someone writing from another era. At times it is a bit slow, but it is an easy read. Not simple but easy. I think I enjoyed it more as a child but still found it charming this time around.
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LibraryThing member quondame
For 6.25" of mountain ash, the fictional doll Hitty, does get around a lot. Between her Maine island origin in the early 19th century to her achievement of a place in a New York antique store window, she goes on a whaling expedition, spends time with a cobra in India, returns to Philadelphia and visits much of the Midwest and south before being returned to her original home though not her original owner. Written by the woman who purchased the eponymous doll from the New York store, this imaginative set of tales is quite the lesson in how the attitude with which we accept our circumstances determines their meaning. And Hitty's attitude is quite charming in its mix of acceptance and judgement.… (more)
LibraryThing member judithrs
Hitty: Her First Hundred Years. Rachel Field. 1930. I remember a librarian giving me this book when I was in the first or second grade and asked for a book about dolls. I tried to read it, but just couldn’t get into it and avoided it in my Kitty Lit class. However, it caught my attention at the Catholic Social Services Thrift store, and I finally read it; and I enjoyed it! What a difference 60 plus years can make!! Hitty is a wooden doll carved for a little girl in Maine in the 1800s who tells us the story of her doll’s life. And what an adventurous life it was! She is lost in the woods, captured by cannibals when the whaler’s ship capsizes, spends quite some time in Indian, and eventually ends up back in the United States where she has even more adventures and finally ends up in an antique shop. I am amazed at the detail in a book written for children, but this was when it was fashionable to

read! The book is a product of its time and would shock a lot of people since it is very politically incorrect at times.
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LibraryThing member Merleiv
a must read..a whirlwind tour of American history...fun...!!!
LibraryThing member sparrowtlw
: HItty is a Newbery award winning novel for advanced readers. HItty a doll, writes her memoirs. She is a doll made of mountain ash and belongs to a little girl named Phoebe Preble, the daughter of a sea captain. With Phoebe, Hitty has many mishaps and adventures. They go berry picking were Hitty is forgotten in the bushes, crows carry her way, a few days later she is up in a tree near the Preble home. Her next adventure with mishaps is when the family set out on a whaler ship, which is burns and Hitty is lost at sea to be later joined with Phoebe on a island. From there she has many more adventures over a hundred years. She travels form a unknown island to India, lived with Quakers, hears Adeline Patti. She has her daguerreotype (picture) done, meets a Poet, travels to New York and so many more adventures. The way the description are given you can see the detail of what is taken place as Hitty travels through time, covering a hundred years in her memoir.
Personal reflection:
I enjoyed reading this book. I would have enjoyed reading this book as a 5th or 6th grade student. It might have helped me to like reading more. Do to the way the author described what was happening in the story; with each adventure, I could see it in my mind’s eye. I did not want to put the book down; I wanted read what was next in Hitty’s many adventures.
Extension ideas;
Have the students write or tell of an adventure they and one of their toys had together.
Have the students pass a toy to around to different family members for a month, have family write what they did with the toy, and then have students write or tell about the adventure the toy went on.
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LibraryThing member Junep
Hitty is a very special doll who belongs to Phoebe. Phoebe is proud of her beautiful doll and brings Hitty everywhere she goes. This is thrilling for Hitty, who finds herself involved in the most wonderful adventures both on land and at sea. She meets many people and makes new friends.

This is the story of the first hundred years of Hitty's life. And that's only the beginning for a doll as special as Hitty.… (more)




(177 ratings; 3.8)
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