Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field

Hitty: Her First Hundred Years by Rachel Field -- In the early 1800's, a peddler carves a doll for a little girl of his acquaintance out of a sturdy piece of mountain ash wood. The doll is painted and dressed and given the name Mehitabel -- Hitty, for short. Over the course of her life, Hitty travels around the world by boat, by train, and eventually by automobile in the hands of various little girls (and sometimes, briefly, boys, men, and women). A hundred years later, she ends up in an antique shop, from whence she tells her story -- but are her adventures through? Hitty doesn't think so!

I was surprised at how readable I found this book. Though Hitty's adventures are episodic, I found that the plot carried me right along, always wondering where Hitty would end up next and how she would get out of whatever scrape she found herself in. I think that, if I had read this as a child, I would have enjoyed it immensely. After all, who doesn't imagine that their toys and dolls secretly come to life when nobody is watching? However, due to several problematic depictions in the book ("red injuns," "heathen savages," and African-American families speaking in an unflattering dialect, among other things), I probably wouldn't recommend this to children today, at least, not unless they were reading it with a good deal of adult guidance.

(Reviewed from a copy borrowed through my library system.)


  1. Oh, you're right. Sigh. I loved this so much I still have a 1967 copy in my school library. Will have to think about it, although it hasn't circulated much at all. Have you read Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm or Daddy Long-Legs recently? Deeply creepy to modern sensibilities. Sic transit...

    1. I read Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm 8-10 years back, and don't remember the problematic elements (though I don't doubt that they are there) -- in fact, I don't remember much about the book at all. And yes, Daddy Long-Legs is a bit squicky! *sigh* That was a book I really enjoyed at the time.