|Harper and Row|
Laura's family survived the long winter and their dearest dream is to send Mary to the college for the blind. Laura will miss her older sister, but knows that Mary desperately wants to go. Laura and Pa both take on extra jobs to help pay for Mary to go and it is a bittersweet day when they finally achieve their goal. De Smet is also becoming a small town and with it comes fun activities like socials and the literary society. Laura now almost sixteen is slowly working her way to a teaching certificate, which will help her earn more money for Mary. Surprises are in store for her, when an old nemesis reappears and when a certain young man begins to want to walk Laura home. Laura is finally growing up.
I loved this one, particularly the reappearance of an unlikable character. The bad side of me was glad this character had a bit of comeuppance, but unfortunately this hard luck did not change her personality at all. I also love watching the blossoming romance and think it is funny that the Ingalls don't really know Almanzo's true age and think him a bit too old for Laura. I also loved how Laura is willing to do anything for Mary and how much the sisters truly mean to each other. Laura has a kind heart despite it all. I will admit the one section with black face is really uncomfortable and wrong and again if I was booktalking this one, I would talk to the children about the past and racism. I think it was an acceptable Newbery for its time and there are qualities that make it an important read today. Other than that scene, this is a sweet and charming book and is a 4 cups of cocoa read for me!