Thursday, January 12, 2012
Family Stories: The Moffat Books by Eleanor Estes
If you are not familiar with The Moffats, the stories -written in the early 1940's- revolve around an American family living in Cranbury, Connecticut before and during the first World War, that includes Mama, Sylvie, Joey, Jane, and Rufus. Their father died before we meet them in the first book. Their mama supports the family with her sewing and tailoring, but it's not an easy living. There's a lot of scrimping and making do, and the children have a lot of freedom to come and go, in a manner unfamiliar to children in our day.
The first book's overarching theme is that Moffat family house, which all the young Moffats have grown up in, is only a rental, and the landlord has put a "For Sale" sign on the house. With this looming over their heads, the Moffats proceed with life.
The appeal that Eleanor Estes' books have is that she is able to capture the mind set of young people, their impishness, their curiosity, how they see the world, etc., in a way that transcends the passage of time. And Louis Slobodkin's whimsical sketches helpfully highlight the story. (These books are also an interesting look at American children's lives during this time in history.)
We've enjoyed getting to know the Moffats and we're looking forward to more of their adventures.
Here are the books, in order:
The Middle Moffat
The Moffat Museum