First sentence: 'That goes our cow, Pa!' said the little girl.
Premise/plot: The Boyer family has newly moved into the community. Most make the family feel welcome. Not so their nearest neighbors the Slaters. From the start these two families clash. Birdie Boyer, for example, clashes with Shoestring. The Slater mother has a love-to-hate, hate-to-love relationship with the Boyer mother. She tends to think that the Boyers are uppity SNOBS because they have (relatively) nice things. The two fathers, well, that's simpler. They can't stand each other--at all.
Can the Boyer family live out the teaching LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF? Or will the Slaters' hateful actions prove too much to bear?
This pioneer novel is set in the early twentieth century in Florida. Irritable neighbors aren't the only difficulty they face on the farm.
It was written and illustrated by Lois Lenski. It won the Newbery in 1946.
My thoughts: I really ended up loving Strawberry Girl. I wish I'd listened to my mother decades ago when she tried to encourage me to read it.
I wasn't expecting such a spiritual message in Strawberry Girl. I was pleasantly surprised by the themes of redemption and grace. The last chapter was giddy making.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48
For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word, in the statement, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” But if you bite and devour one another, take care that you are not consumed by one another. Galatians 5:14-15
A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:34-35
"Glory hallelujah!" cried Sam Slater, throwing his hat in the air. "I'm a changed man! A happy man for the first time in my life!" "Brother Jackson shore is a powerful preacher," said Mrs. Boyer."To touch the heart of a hardened sinner like me," added Slater.
"I mean no offense..." began Mrs. Boyer.
"But hit's true ain't it?" said Slater gently. "My heart was hard as a rock. Now 'tis soft as mud. I'll never the same again, thank God."
"How did it happen, Sam?" asked Boyer. "Tell us about it." Sam Slater grew thoughtful, then he spoke: "When I come home and found my wife and young guns had been lying' at death's door, I begun to think. Did I not have kind, forgivin' neighbors, they'd a been dead. Then the very next night I got sick myself, and thought I was fixin' to die. So I decided I'd better start livin' different. But it was Brother Jackson who pointed out the error of my ways. He told me the harm of drinkin' liquor, and of swearin' and backbitin', gossip and anger. So when the spirit come upon me, I was ready. My heart was changed. I'm fixin' to lead the good life right on."
"Praise God!" cried the women.
"Glory be to God!" added the men.
"You won't never get drunk no more, Pa?" asked Essie.
"And shoot the chickens' heads off, Pa?" asked Zephy.
"No young guns, I won't!" said Sam Slater. He took the two little girls in his arms and held them close. "And I hope to be a good neighbor right on, too. A good father and a good neighbor." (185-86)
© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible