Louisa May Alcott: Little Men
Life at Plumfield with Jo's Boys
"Dear Jo," wrote an old protege of Mr. and Mrs. Bhaer's, "here is a case after your own heart. This poor lad is an orphan, sick and friendless. He has been a street musician .... I think there is something in him. Give him a trial." Readers of "Little Women" will re member Jo and his model school at Plumfield, where poor children are taught, not only how to read and to write, but how to amuse and humanize themselves. In this establishment, where each boy has a little garden of his own, a share in a menagerie of small pets, and various privileges not to be found in ordinary schools, poor Nat Wake soon makes himself quite at home ; and in the course of time becomes a great favorite with Aunt Jo and her family of odd boys. Very delightful and very natural is the way in which the social characteristics of these boys is described. We see them at school, at church, in the garden, in the fields — learning, praying, working, playing, but always improving from rude, uncared-for waifs into useful and respectable members of society. The object of the book is evidently not so much to show what is, but what might be, done in school-reformatories, orphan asylums, &c. ; and though written especially for American readers, all the suggestions are applicable to parents, guardians, and teachers on every side of the Atlantic ; and if they would just try the experiment supposed to be carried out successfully at Plumfield, they might, after a while, exclaim with motherly Mrs. Jo: "Dear me! If men and women would only trust, help and understand one another as my children do, what a capital place the world would be!" 'Little Men' is one of the very few stories about children that children can really understand and admire, and thar adults can read with both pleasure and profit.