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Mary Jane: Her Book ~ Mary Jane: Her Visit Review by Charlotte Gochnauer

By Clara Ingram Judson
Salem Ridge Press
4263 Salem Drive
Emmaus, PA 18049

Originally published in 1918, these delightful books have been reprinted for children today to enjoy. The story is about a 5-year-old little girl and her daily adventures. Each of the books has four black-and-white illustrations interspersed throughout. In the first book, Mary Jane plants a garden, helps her mother with housework, and goes on an exciting picnic with friends. There is a focus on the observation of nature and the animals that live around them. When she has a question about ants, her parents encourage her to watch them. And then they go look up information in a book with her. In one of my favorite sections, Mary Jane is bored one day, so her mother has her help with the housework--in a fun way so as not to make the menial jobs tedious.

The second book is about her visit to her great grandparents' farm out in the country. During her visit, she helps with the animals, visits a circus, and makes a new friend. Since they were written 90 years ago, the books paint a picture of what life was like in the early part of the century. Sewing cards, strawberry socials, laundry wringers, and hair ribbons are mentioned and explained well. The overall themes in the books are a willingness to work and joy in home life and in creation around us.

The recommended age range for these books is 6-10. When there is a hard word, such as cunning or kewpie, the publisher provides a short definition at the bottom of the page. This is very helpful for the younger readers. In the first book, there is a reference to a "stupid" bird. It is a bird that Mary Jane wants to wash, but it flies away when she sprays water on it. There is no mention of God or religion in either of the books.

I gave these books to my eight-year-old, and she loved reading both of them. These are two wholesome fiction books for younger children. They would be a profitable addition to a literature list in homeschooling or even a resource when studying the early 20th century in history. The publisher, Salem Ridge Press, is re-publishing good quality literature from the 1800s and early 1900s. I would buy this book, and I am excited to look at others available from this publisher.

Product review by Charlotte Gochnauer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC December 2008