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Sunday, December 20, 2015

MARTHA WASHINGTON: GIRL of OLD VIRGINIA (Childhood of Famous Americans Series) by Jean Brown Wagoner

Originally published in 1947.

In the 1930's, the "Childhood of Famous Americans" series was started with a simple biography of Abraham Lincoln's childhood. Eventually, there were dozens of books in this series. In my childhood I remember my small town library had a shelf full of these books and I read them all. Nowadays, this series has been picked up by Simon and Schuster.

This book focuses on the childhood of Martha Washington (1731-1802), or Martha Dandridge, nicknamed Patsy. There is not really an over-arching story here. Rather, this is mostly a series of scenes from her childhood including having a bear cub as a pet, posing for a portrait and learning to ride a pony. There are also visits from local Native tribes. This book could be read not just as a biography of Martha Washington but also as a sample of what life on a plantation would be like for the family that owns the plantation.

That being said, it doesn't really address the issue of slavery, preferring to call the family slaves "servants" instead and never discussing how the "servants" rate in the big scheme of things.

I liked the book all right. I would rate it 3 out of 5 stars, noting that it is very easy to read and fairly interesting. However, my ten-year-old daughter read it twice in the last couple of months and she enjoyed it both times. She would give it 5 stars out of 5.

So, in the spirit of compromise, that would make an average of 4 stars out of 5.

This book can be found on Amazon.com here: Martha Washington: Girl Of Old Virginia

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