Caddie Woodlawn

by Carol Ryrie Brink

Other authorsTrina Schart Hyman (Illustrator)
Hardcover, 1973


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Call number

J Br


Macmillan / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (1973), Edition: New, 275 pages


The adventures of an eleven-year-old tomboy growing up on the Wisconsin frontier in the mid-nineteenth century.

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Media reviews

In addition to their own small family, the Woodlawns are on very good terms with the Indians that live locally, especially Indian John (who has the advantage of command of the English language, although it's unfortunately depicted as the stereotypical pidgin English common in books from this
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period). The book follows a year in Caddie's life- picking nuts, riding horses, going to school, and worrying about rumors of Indian massacre, eagerly awaiting the mail after a long winter, and eating entirely too much turkey. Over the course of events, Caddie does mature and become ready to at least consider that a lady's skills have some merit.
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They made the pioneers seem like angels and the Native Americans like inhuman monsters.

User reviews

LibraryThing member fyrefly98
Summary: It's 1864, and the Civil War is little more than distant gossip for Caddie Woodlawn and her six siblings growing up in rural Wisconsin. At eleven, Caddie should be learning to be a proper little lady, but instead she's still running wild with her brothers. As they have adventures, get into
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trouble, and tumble home to their large and loving family, Caddie must learn that growing up means more than learning embroidery and not getting her dresses dirty.

Review: I know full well that if someone had handed me Caddie Woodlawn when I was eight or nine, I would have absolutely loved it. It's essentially a mixture of two of my other favorites from that time in my life: it's got the setting and family life of Little House in the Big Woods, the spark and humor of The Great Brain, plus an irrepressible tomboy heroine. However, reading it for the first time as an adult was kind of a non-event. While it was a pioneer story in the sense that they were living far away from any major urban center, there was no sense of having to eke their survival out of the wilderness; looking at pictures of the actual house that Carol Ryrie Brink's grandmother lived in as a child makes it clear that it's not some little drafty log cabin. There was similarly never much urgency to the plot, either; I think the worst hardship the family had to suffer was getting tired of eating their overabundance of turkey. Still, it's a charming little book, full of fun adventures and with some nice morals about freedom, what it means to be an American, and what it really means to grow up to be a woman. 3.5 out of 5 stars.

Recommendation: It's deservedly a children's classic, particularly for girls, but make sure they read it before they're too old and jaded to properly enjoy it.
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LibraryThing member ctpress
Caddie refuses to blend in as a perfect little lady - she’s a tomboy and her father allows her to grow up playing outside with her two brothers - getting into all sorts of troubles in the wilderness. Caddie Woodlawn won the Newbery Medal in 1936 and the story is based on Carol Ryrie Brink’s
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grandmother's childhood in Wisconsin in the 1860’s. There’s an interesting chapter dealing with the fear of the Indians, and the settlers plans of a massacre - Caddie rides in the night to her good friend "Indian John" to warn the Indians.

This frontier-story reminded me a lot of of the Laura Ingalls Wilder-series, but it doesn’t have that sense of struggle in the wilderness as the Wilder-books or for example The Yearling have. But Caddie is a funny open-minded and straight-forward kid and I had fun reading of her small and big adventures.
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LibraryThing member relientkatie
Eleven-year-old Caddie's father encourages her to run wild with her brothers, much to the annoyance of their cultured mother. She confronts the school bully, fights prairie fires, and rides a horse across a frozen river. Then a letter arrives from England, her father's homeland, that may change the
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Woodlawn family forever.
"Caddie Woodlawn" is one of my favorite books of all time. Caddie is a good role model for girls - sweet, spunky and brave. The supporting characters are a lot of fun, too, especially Tom and Warren. It's worth pointing out that this book isn't exactly politically correct by today's standards (mixed-race children are called "half breeds," for example), but the overall treatment of American Indians is positive and sympathetic.
I'd recommend this title to children ages 9-12, especially those who enjoy the Little House books or the American Girl series.
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LibraryThing member Tanith
To the chagrin of her proper Eastern mother, Caddie romps thru the Wisconsin woods & lakes with her brothers.
In a story based on her grandmother's life, Brink captures the wonder of a child, as well as the hard work and uncertainty of frontier life. I like it better than the Little House books, the
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characters are deeper and the story has better pacing. Also, probably reflecting its more modern author, CW depicts Native Americans more sympathetically and respectfully.
It's no wonder Caddie Woodlawn won a Newbery medal.
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LibraryThing member BookConcierge
This Newbery Award winner tells the story of Caddie Woodlawn, age about 12, in 1864 Wisconsin, growing up on a farm with her six brothers and sisters, and her two parents.

Brink based the novel (and a sequel) on the stories her grandmother told about living in Western Wisconsin during the time of
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the Civil War. The family is tight-knit and the children have many adventures, including exploring the river and woods near their homestead, and visiting the local tribe of Native Americans (“Indian John” being a particular friend). Caddie is a courageous, intelligent and resourceful girl, but she IS a child and sometimes the pranks and adventures she engages in go awry leading to some real dangers. She is a bit of a tom boy, spending more time with her brothers than with an older sister or her mother, but she is faced with the inevitability of “growing up” and becoming more ladylike.

The story reminds me a bit of Laura Ingalls Wilders’ “Little House” books, and that is definitely a good comparison. The book was originally published in 1935 and the way the Native Americans are portrayed is indicative of the times when it was written. But don’t let that dissuade you; it should open the door for good discussion with your children. Definitely a book worth adding to your children’s library.
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LibraryThing member DeltaQueen50
Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink is a children’s historical fiction story about a young American pioneer girl who lives on the Wisconsin frontier in the 1860s. Although most girls are expected to learn proper behavior and lady-like skills, Caddie’s father decided that letting her run and
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play with her two brothers would be a better choice for her to grow strong and healthy after she was a rather ill and weak baby.

Caddie and her brothers have many simple adventures and learn many life lessons. The American Civil War is being fought but is very much a distant war for her family. Although many settlers still fear an Indian uprising, Caddie and her brothers have befriended an Indian and when some whites consider attacking the Indians first, Caddie makes an heroic effort to warn the tribe of the danger they are in.

The author based this book on her own grandmother’s pioneer life and these snippets from her life paint a picture of a spirited young lady on the brink of maturing. Caddie Woodlawn is an enjoyable adventure story written for young children, but I felt the lack of depth and prefer the charm of the “Little House” books.
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LibraryThing member VhartPowers
Based on a true person. Caddie Woodlawn is allowed to be a tomboy per her father's request and her mother's chagrin. There are seven children in the family. Would have been eight, but one daughter died after moving from Boston to Wisconsin. For this reason the father allows Caddie to be outdoors
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and become strong and healthy.
The book is full of adventure and is fast paced.
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LibraryThing member karenmerguerian
This begins like a "Life in Pioneer Times" novel, but turns out to be a true American coming-of-age story. Caddie develops through the course of the book, she has to face difficult decisions about what to do and how to treat people, she makes mistakes, and finally learns what it will mean to
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transition from tomboy little-girlhood into womanhood, and how to keep some of the courage of the tomboy at the same time. It is relatively evenhanded in its treatment of race and gender issues.

The story of Caddie's father's childhood and how it colors his adult life and childrearing practices adds a patriotic layer. Its staged revelation and final act makes for a suspenseful novel.
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LibraryThing member SeriousGrace
Caddie Woodlawn is the quasi-true story about Caroline "Caddie" Woodlawn. I say quasi because Brink got her stories from her grandmother and she changed some of the details for the sake of the plot. Caddie is Brink's grandmother (with a slight name change). As an impetuous, spunky tomboy, Caddie
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would rather run wild with her two oldest brothers rather than stay home and cook and sew with her more demure sisters. The whole book is about Caddie's struggle to balance wanting to be a good girl while being a natural wild child.
The year is 1864 and the Civil War is raging to an end in the East while a different prejudice is infiltrating the midwest. The conflict between Native American Indians and the white man who invaded their territory is being fueled by ignorance, rumors and fear. Caddie is eleven years old and coming of age at a time when the country is doing the same thing.
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LibraryThing member tjsjohanna
I have been reading the Little House on the Prairie series with my kids and this book makes an interesting companion to those. These girls grew up in similar circumstances and yet their stories are unique. In this novel, Ms. Brink introduces the idea of immigration - Caddie's father is English. She
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also introduces the conflict between meeting society's norms and doing what is right or healthy (the family's friendship with the Indians, Caddie's unconventional upbringing). I loved the conclusion of this novel, when Caddie's father talks to her about what it means to be a woman - not what you wear or necessarily how you follow the rules of etiquette, but how you contribute to the world your unique gifts and talents. And I loved that as Caddie began to learn about more feminine jobs in her family, her brothers did too! This was a favorite book of mine as a girl and I'm glad to see that it is still a great read!
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LibraryThing member debnance
The Newbery Award committee members seem to love a strong girl and Caddie is among the strongest. She roams and tarries with her ruffian brothers on the wild plains of Wisconsin around the time of the American Civil War. Caddie plays practical jokes on her cousin, runs to the Indians to warn of a
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massacre, and proudly displays an Indian scalp belt for all the town to see. Caddie finally begins to see that becoming a lady is not just learning to quilt and say the right words and wear fancy clothes.
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LibraryThing member earyan2
One of the best books I've ever read and I continue to recommend it. Truly a classic that has withstood the test of time.
LibraryThing member beanyncecil
One of my all-time favorites, so much so that when I was in Wisconsin a few years ago, I visited the Woodhouse home. It was tiny though probably not by the standards of that day. I wouldn't change a word of it.
LibraryThing member abbylibrarian
I loved this book as a child and read it over and over again, but I recently attempted to reread it via audiobook and it just didn't hold up. The audio recording is fine and I enjoyed the narrator, but the book is just too racist for me to enjoy it. I understand that it was written in the 1930s
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when views were different, but I just couldn't enjoy it now.
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LibraryThing member anniecase
Old-fashioned it may be. But this story of a strong, unconventional girl in 1800s' Wisconsin is endlessly fascinating. Each vignette makes you want to read more. Even today, 20 years after discovering it, Caddie remains one of my very favorite children's books.
LibraryThing member GaryPaulson
These adventures of a young girl in the Wisconsin ‘wilderness’ make for a great read. It is hard today to imagine Wisconsin being considered ‘the west’ let alone ‘wilderness’. The strength of spirit it must have required to make a home and raise a family in the wilderness is
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unimaginable. This ‘American’ spirit is embodied in our young heroine, Caddie Woodlawn, as she matures from a tomboy to a young woman; without losing her self-reliant and independent streak. As father of three daughters, I appreciated the ‘talk’ that Caddie’s father gave her near the end of the book:
"It’s a strange thing, but somehow we expect more of girls than of boys. It is the sisters and wives and mothers, you know, Caddie, who keep the world sweet and beautiful. What a rough world it would be if there were only men and boys in it, doing things in their rough way! A woman’s task is to teach them gentleness and courtesy and love and kindness. It’s a big task, too, Caddie—harder than cutting trees or building mills or damming rivers. It takes nerve and courage and patience, but good women have those things. The have them just as much as the men who build bridges and carve roads through the wilderness. A woman’s work is something fine and noble to grow up to, and it is just as important as a man’s. But no man could ever do it so well."
Don’t imagine that this book is only for girls! The stories and adventures will appeal to both boys and girls. I highly recommend this book to young readers, especially those who enjoy the Little House on the Prairie stories or the feisty Anne of Green Gables.
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LibraryThing member PortiaLong
Absolutely one of my favorite books growing up. Caddie is just the "spunky girl" I admire. Smart, witty, quick, talented, skillful - a girl ahead of her time. Written in 1935 this book was based on the childhood of the author's grandmother.
LibraryThing member eejjennings
I've read this wonderful book many times and imagined myself as Caddie making my way in the Wisconsin frontier and showing my brothers that anything they could do, I could do better. She was my childhood heroine.
LibraryThing member cek2read
tomboy on the prairie. I loved this book, forced it on kids as I grew up. for "Little House" lovers and those who think those books too sweet.
LibraryThing member onlyhope1912
As a child this was always one of my favorite books. It reminds me of Little House on the Prairie. Caddie is so full of life, and quite a tomboy. She goes on adventures with her brothers, like going to find the Indian camp. I just loved Uncle Edmund. My favorite part was when he raced Caddie on the
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river. If you like the Laura Ingalls style, then you'll love this book.
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LibraryThing member satyridae
Fun bundle of reminiscences, folky, homey but to my mind ultimately slight on re-reading.
LibraryThing member shojo_a
They made a TV movie of this when I was in third grade. I remember I did a book report on this and drew a picture of the cover and one of the girl's in class accused me of tracing it. I was so mad! LOL
LibraryThing member leepam
From the moment I started reading the book, I couldn't put it down. Caddie's adventurous and kind spirit had me engrossed from the beginning to the end. The story is set in Wisconsin during the Civil War. The Woodlawn family moved to Wisconsin from Boston; although the family is well established in
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their new town, mother misses Boston terribly and longs for the days when the little steamer comes in so that she can keep up with her family and news back in Boston. Caddie, the main character, is the third of seven children and loves to work outside with the boys. Throughout the story, Caddie is a tom boy and is very close with her two brothers, but her mother frequently reminds her that she must become a lady. Although Caddie has many adventures throughout the story, my favorite was when the town heard a rumor that indians were going to massacre them all and burn down their homes. They all go and stay at the Woodlawn's place. The men become impatient and decide that they are going to attack the indians before the indians can attack them. Caddie's father had befriended the indians especially Indian John so this thought made Caddie very upset; so Caddie went to Indian John to warn him. The indians, aware of the danger and the desire to remain peaceful, left the area; but, before they left, Indian John stopped by and left his scalp belt and dog with Caddie to keep until they come back. We see how kind Caddie is when she uses her silver dollar that she received from Uncle Edmund to buy the Hankinson children- whose mother left them because their father was embarrassed that he married an indian- candy, handkerchiefs, and combs just so that she could make them happy and smile. The conclusion was great... tears flooded my eyes when Nero (the family dog that went to live with Uncle Edmund and ran away) came home.
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LibraryThing member HeatherKvale
A read-a-loud in our home and certainly an all-time favorite. We will make sure all 4 of our kids enjoy this book!
LibraryThing member feenie1010
Just another one of those books that just stick with you from your childhood.


Original language


Original publication date


Physical description

275 p.; 6 inches


9575354176 / 9789575354176



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