Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Little Colonel's House Party

The Little Colonel's House Party is written by Annie Fellows Johnston. It is the fourth book in the Little Colonel series.

This story is about the house party of Lloyd Sherman, nicknamed the Little Colonel (see the first book in the series: The Little Colonel) and takes place in Kentucky. Three girls, Betty, Joyce, and Eugenia, came to spend the summer with her and her mother, Mrs. Sherman. Mr. Sherman and the Old Colonel, Lloyd's grandfather, had business in Virginia over the summer, so Mrs. Sherman and Lloyd would be home alone for a bit. As a treat, her mother let her have the house party.

The first to arrive was Elizabeth Lloyd Lewis, or Betty. Betty was a sweet little girl, much loved by everyone who knew her, who entertains writing ambitions. She came from the country where she had been staying with her aunt and uncle, being an orphan. Her mother had been a great friend of Mrs. Sherman's. Mrs. Sherman was Betty's godmother.

Betty came in a bonnet and carried very few clothes, but Lloyd and Mrs. Sherman took care of her embarrassment quickly. She lost some of her country manners but not her sweetness before the other guests arrived.

The second guest to arrive was Joyce Ware. (She has a story all her own in The Giant Scissors.) Her mother was also a great friend of Mrs. Sherman's, but Mrs. Ware was a poor widow living out west for her health. Joyce loved drawing and painting and planning all sorts of fun. She quickly made friends with Betty and Lloyd.

The third and last girl to come was Eugenia Forbes from New York City. She was Lloyd's cousin and they hated each other when they were little, but her mother had died and Mrs. Sherman insisted on inviting her so she would not be lonely during the summer. Eugenia was a spoiled only child who got pretty much whatever she wanted from her father.

The four girls learned much that summer together. When three out of the four caught measles from going to a gypsy camp against orders, Betty and Mrs. Sherman plan many good things to cheer them up. Later Betty fell ill from helping her friends, though she herself did not go to the gypsy camp. The sickness threatened her eyes and caused great dismay amongst the other girls, particularly Eugenia because it had been mostly her fault that they went to the camp at all. The girls learned the story of the Road of the Loving Heart and the danger to Betty's eyes was averted.

The girls promise to try their best to follow the story of the Road of the Loving Heart and they each get a gold ring with a love knot and the word "Tusitala" engraved on the inside to remind them always.

I enjoyed the story, though it is written for younger children. I have read a number of these stories, but I chiefly like the smaller stories told inside of them such as "The Road of the Loving Heart" in this one. It is these which make the books worthwhile to read.

The Slim Princess

The Slim Princess is an amusing story by George Ade about a young girl named Kalora who lived in a country called Morovenia. In this particular country (fictional, I believe), fat women were considered beautiful. The fatter they were, the more beautiful they were.

As you can imagine from the title of the book, this caused some problems when a girl was thin. Kalora was thin. Her father, the Count Selim Malagaski, also Governor-General of Morovenia, was in distress, for the customs of the land forbade him from marrying off his younger daughter until his elder daughter was married. But no one came to bring suit to her, for the rumor of her thinness had spread abroad (though no one had seen her, it being improper for women to be seen by those outside the home). His younger daughter was beautifully fat and duly sought after by many young men. But she could not marry any until her sister was gone. And her sister would not get fat.

The reason for her thinness was her fondness for exercise, instilled in her at any early age by her tutor, a professor named Popova. At some point prior to the beginning of this story, the Count Malagaski had dreadfully insulted him. So, he took revenge by teaching his eldest daughter new sports and exercises until she like them so much, she would not stop.

In desperation, her father had British consul and his wife for a small garden party, and (claiming it was in regard for foreign customs) had his daughters out in the hopes that at least one young man among the party might fall for Kalora. She comes greatly swathed in clothes so as to appear heavy, but a dreadful trick played upon her by some young men reveals how light she truly is.

She, greatly upset, accuses them of mocking her in front of her father's guests and throws off some of her quilted clothes. Now it was quite clear to everyone how thin she was and therefore how ugly she was. Her father quickly takes everyone off to look at his stables, while Kalora stays in the garden quite furious at everyone.

Suddenly, a young American appears on the garden wall which he had just scaled. He sees Kalora and pretty nearly falls in love with her on the spot. She likewise falls in love with him after he tells her how beautiful she is. Unfortunately, some guards enter the garden and, catching sight of him, rush at him to seize him. He jumps at them and knocks them over, and then he swings back over the wall.

A search goes on through the town for him, but he escapes. Meanwhile, he has left a magazine with Kalora. Her father finds a peculiar ad in one of them for putting pounds on in America, and mistakenly thinks America is a land where you can gain a pound a day. So he decides to send Kalora there at once with Popova and a number of ladies to escort her.

On arriving in America, Kalora throws off all restraint and goes to many parties and outings, growing thinner and fitter than before. Her ladies are all convinced to put on modern clothes and join in the activities. Popova greatly enjoys the grand dinners they attend. The Count, hearing from the his consul in America how Kalora is behaving, orders her home at once. She obeys, but not before meeting the young American man who had climbed the wall once again.

Back home, her father punishes her and all the ladies and Popova for such outrageous conduct. But the young American man has followed Kalora and visits the Count. I need not tell you any more for you to guess the outcome of that visit.

This was a most amusing book, though I believe it encouraged disrespect to those in authority a bit too openly. However, the idea of the story is funny, and the end is the best.