Klass, Sheila Solomon. Little Women Next Door. Holiday House, 2000. ISBN 0-823-41472-8. $15.95. 188 pp. A 3-7 FI Reviewed by Donna J. Jorgensen Klass’ Little Women Next Door, a fictionalized account of real events, brings to mind visions of Louisa May Alcott. In 1843, Louisa’s family joined with others near Harvard village in Massachusetts in a social experiment they called “Fruitlands.” This group of Transcendentalists wanted to live as families, eating and wearing nothing that was imported from another country or that would “rob” an animal. They wanted to live without using money. The experiment was short-lived. Susan, a purely fictional character, and Louisa are both ten years old. They form a fast friendship, and Susan joins the children of the group for school each day. Since she was little, Susan has stammered and been shy and sickly. Brother Bronson (Alcott) teaches her not to stammer and to think for herself. The book examines the beliefs of the Consociates and others like them. The children interact with Thoreau and Emerson. The book gives a clear idea of their philosophy and some of their problems. The friendship between Susan and Louisa is believable. There are some factual errors: Susan’s father is not likely to have had fresh corn, potatoes and beans to take to his neighbors on June 1st, as the author has him do.
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