Monday, September 5, 2011

School Daze.

Tomorrow is the first day of classes for our local school district. Don't tell my kids. They've been doing lessons since the first of the month.

Our year begins with a visit by the Homeschool Fairy, who fills up Zarf and Klaxon's back packs with school supplies, text books, toys, treats, movies and clothes.

We've set a pretty leisurely pace for lessons, easing into the routine with science documentaries, multiplication drills, grammar worksheets, copywork, read-alouds, and star gazing. The biggest detriment to productivity has not been the boys' attitudes (they're quite keen to start up since they've been on summer break since June) or curriculum selection (our material came in weeks ago), but the sorry state of the homeschool room. Until Wednesday morning, I'd forgotten the school room was our de facto junk room.

While cleaning up (and cleaning out), I came across a book my grand-dad gave me at least twenty-five years ago: Little Women, by Louisa May Alcott.

There's no copyright date listed on the title page. At some point a fourteen-year old girl named Joan Henderson practiced her signature on the empty pages at the end of the book. 

The last time I read this book was in 1994, upon returning home from the movie adaptation starring Winona Ryder. I'd gone with a group of friends during winter break from university. I enjoyed it. Right up till Beth died. According to my seatmate, this was not a complete deviation from the source material. But I had no memory of it. I raced home, and checked my copy. Beth was very much alive on the last page of my copy. Only much later did I learn that Little Women was published in two volumes. In addition to there being no publication date on my book, there is no indication there's a sequel.

To this day, I've never read the second part of the narrative. In my head, Beth is still very much alive.


  1. Leaving Beth alive is a much better version. I would have missed out on a very intense experience of grief as a child if that were the case in my version of Little Women.

  2. This is lovely. I probably mean poignant, but lovely is also applicable.

  3. Two things: my kids started on the first, so you can tell your kids they are right in line with the Calgary Board of Education! Wheee!

    Second: now, I know you are not a re-reader of books. But I have a very old copy of Little Women. One summer, I read that book over thirty times. I think I was eight. In my defence, I was spending the summer at my grandparents' in SK and really, there wasn't a whole lot to do there.

    Which brings us to the question: what character are you? I always thought I was a Jo. I WANT to be a Jo. But I have to be self aware. I think I'm an Amy. Ugh.

  4. I love the idea of a 'Homeschool Fairy". How wonderful. We usually get our kids some new supplies every year but this year they seem to have everything they need. I did get my oldest a composition book so that she could do her writing in one place.

  5. I never read the end of Memoirs of a Geisha because I thought it was starting to go just horribly until after I watched the (mediocre) movie about it, and learned that it didn't turn out quite as bad as I had thought it would.

  6. I have not read Little Women. I happened upon the movie before the book. Beth dying made me completely lose interest in reading the book.

  7. You have GOT to be kidding!

    I had an argument with a cousin of mine about whether or not Beth dies - I said she did, I remember bawling my eyes out. My cousin insisted she didn't, that there must have been another version of the story. Another version of the story? In what universe does that happen?

    All these years I have sneered at her poor liter-ah-cha reading skills....

  8. I've never read Little Women, add it to the list of classics I'd like to think that I will read "some day". I love the Winona Ryder movie, I've seen it multiple times and very much enjoy it. Even if Beth had to die. Doesn't she say something dumb about everyone else deserving to live more than her because she is dull? That part kind of ticked me off because I really like Claire Danes!