March Bookgroup Read: Meet Kit

It’s time for our bookgroup discussion, and this month we are going to talk about the book “Meet Kit”.  I hope everyone was able to get their hands on a copy of it.  Even if you didn’t in time, you are still free to comment once you get the opportunity to read it.  That’s the beauty of the internet!

Kit’s story is my favorite of all the historicals.  I truly think the reason for this is Kit grew up in the same era as my mom did, and I can remember her telling stories of growing up during the depression.  The different stories told within the spectrum of the Kit books covers a number of issues that I remember my mom talking about.  Especially the part about people losing their homes and having to move in with other relatives or as boarders.  My mom grew up in a “blended” household made up of her, my uncle, my grandmother, and numerous aunts and uncles!

Some of the other things that I love about Kit’s stories: her desire to become a reporter, always trying to help out, and her desire for a treehouse. I remember thinking a treehouse would be one of the coolest things on the planet! Unfortunately we didn’t have any trees that really lent themselves to one, but a girl can dream. I also like her tomboyish qualities, and how she hates her frilly bedroom.

One thing that might be lost on younger readers today would be Kit’s owning a typewriter. Unlike today, where nearly every home has a computer of some sort, typewriters were not a common place item in any home. Even when I was a teenager, a typewriter was a big deal, I received one as a graduation gift. So her not just writing her newspaper stories, but also typing them up is a cute feature that I think makes her books and stories very unique for that particular era.

Now for the part I didn’t like–there is a historical section in the back part of the book where it talks about the Great Depression. It makes it sound like the only place it happened was in the United States, when in fact, it affected the entire world. Times were tough everywhere, and there were many places that things were as bad, if not worse, than in the United States. Just a little detail that bugged me.

While I was reading the section about the Great Depression, the Broadway musical and movie, “Annie” popped into my head.  There are several items mentioned that are addressed in songs–“We’d Like To Thank You Herbert Hoover” and “I Don’t Need Anything But You” both came to mind.  Perhaps another easy to absorb story to introduce young people to the Great Depression, and a lot of fun too!

Overall, I loved the story though, and I especially liked the detailed illustrations throughout. I also loved the inserts of Kit’s typewritten stories, I chuckled out loud at the drawing of Mrs. Willmore “beside herself”. My favorite line in the whole book is when Kit and Ruthie are talking about the newspaper and Kit says “This is supposed to be a newspaper, not a snoozepaper.”

Did you like “Meet Kit”?

Next month we will discuss “Isabelle”.  The book for May is Meet Marie-Grace and for June it’s Lea.

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25 thoughts on “March Bookgroup Read: Meet Kit

  1. Thank you for lifting up the part about the depression being a global event. I also really like Kit’s stories, especially Happy Birthday Kit because of her frugal Aunt. In Meet Kit I relate to Kit’s attic bedroom, which I also had as a teen (not quite as rustic as hers!). I also think the storyline of helping those in need right in your community is handled well… specifically when Sterling comes to live with them, also Ruthie helping Kit later on. We experienced something similar when a person in our community had a crisis related to her husband’s mental health (Veteran) and we brought food to the family, whom Brianna knows as school. It’s a delicate matter.

    • I do think that the helping those in need storylines are definitely a highlight to these books that can apply to modern times. And of course the frugal Aunt!!! 😉

  2. I really like the Kit series and have enjoyed reading all of her books, including the short stories and her train trip. I found it interesting that AG chose to make clothes and playsets (baseball outfit and treehouse) from story lines not from the main book series, but from the short stories. I really like how Ruthie and Kit are so different in mannerisms and tastes but are still the best of friends, and that Ruthie knows Kit so well she can find her friend even when she sad and hiding under a porch. I can also relate to Kit b/c even though I’m female and enjoy dolls and girl things, I have my inner boy as well, (that must be why I really love my boy dolls!). I thought she showed real ingenuity when she fixed up her attic room. And the writer in me really loves that fact that this was something she dreamed of and regularly did of her own accord, not b/c she was made to like in a homework assignment, (although I imagine when she was assigned a theme or composition as school, she typed it up and made it look as professional as possible). I think I go through the rest of the main series of books now, just because. This is really fun, Flo!

    • I agree completely, and Kit’s independent spirit is something we need more of! Especially relevant in modern times. Girls need to be encouraged to do things that may not seem to be girly!

  3. Typewriters and treehouses would have put Kit in my top of the AG list if it hadn’t been for Mattel’s over merchandising her. Even so, she has a great story with good friends. I agree that the global impact is underrepresented but that doesn’t bother me so much as viewed from Kit’s perspective. At 8 or 9, our global perspective jumps significantly outside our own little realm of house and home that I think it takes a little while to process just how big the world outside is taking another couple years for that full picture. (Still AG could have managed that one better).

    I love the typewriter storylines. We had a couple old typewriters growing up (when other families were getting their first computers). There’s just nothing like it.

    I think the best parts of all of Kit’s story and her Meet book are how credible her dreams and desires were and how universally appealing. Blended households are still pretty common among the non-wealthy. Their sense of community is well represented in a lot of literature for children. It’s crucial to society that we are a part and not the pivot point of our world.

    • Kit’s wardrobe, as cute as it is, drives me bonkers. I remember my mom saying that most people, even the wealthy, didn’t have a ton of clothing. A dress to wear while you were washing the other one was her favorite saying! But yes, that is definitely a case of Mattel over-merchandising her. Heck, now you can barely get something purchased before they discontinue it and come out with something new!

  4. I liked Kit’s story. It brought back memories of my dad telling me about living through the depression. His mother ( my grandmother) was widowed at a young age. She had five children under 12 years of age and an eighth grade education. Her sister, who was single, moved in with the family to help her. My dad talked of having boarders living with them. When the 1940 census was available online I looked up my grandmother and dad. I knew what street they lived on in Detroit, so I went through the pages of that street until I found them. Sure enough, my grandmother was listed as head of household. Also in the house was my dad, his sister (at that point his two brothers and other sister had moved out), and a boarder. My grandmother died when I was ten. I wish now I could have asked her more about how she was able to manage raising five kids on her own before Social Security. My dad was 18 months old when his dad died. My grandmother did get a job working for the welfare department in Detroit, but who watched her kids while she worked? Like in the story, she probably had neighbors in the neighborhood willing to help out.

    • Some of the stories my mom used to tell about growing up are permanently stuck in my head, but the stories about the neighbors are the ones I remember the best. And the time they left the tap dripping in the kitchen so that the pipes wouldn’t freeze. It ended up freezing in the drain and eventually ran out onto the floor. When she got up in the morning, she found my uncle ice skating in the kitchen!

  5. Unlike Kit, when I dressed up as a girl, I wanted to be as frilly as possible. I was a Tomboy also, playing cops and robbers, cowboys and Indians building forts and catching frogs, lizards and lightning bugs. My mom told me that during her childhood, she didn’t understand why when people were hungry, the train cars, full of potatoes had armed guards to keep people from getting the potatoes. The guards just threw out the potatoes and let them rot, rather than letting the people have them. Last year my dad gave me an old manual typewriter in a wooden case. I really enjoyed Kit’s story.

    • You bring up a good point about the hunger issue. I think the item in the back of the book that hit me hardest was about the girl who didn’t have her lunch and when her teacher told her to go home and get it, she told her she couldn’t, it was her sister’s day to eat. I don’t think most of us living in the US and other civilized countries can really fathom just how bad it was for some. And in some places still is.

      Cool about the typewriter!

  6. The book reviews brought back so many memories of growing up in a household after the depression in the 1940’s. Mom was always so frugal, she told us that” you never know when another depression might come along,” and of course she would tell us all the stories of her and her brother Uncle Bill going along the road out side the house to pick up the lumps of coal that had fallen off the coal trucks. Kit seems to have a very old fashioned typewriter, and it looks very much like the one we had at home. I hope Kit has some muscles, that typewriter weighted a ton, and it took all our strength to lift it from place to place, and it always seemed to be in need of a new ribbon. I composed my first 4th grade essay on it, and since it was hunt and peck, it took forever. At present I believe my youngest son has that typewriter.

  7. Hi! Late to the party here! I think the Kit books were the first ones I read, followed by Molly. Meet Kit is good as it sets up what is to come, but I think it is a bit vague with regards to what is going on in the neighborhood. Kit seems to key in on a few things during the garden club meeting, but not the whole picture. Like someone mentioned above, we get Kit’s limited point of view.

    I love Kit as a character. She’s strong, intelligent, helpful, and still young with her own concerns. We see her grow through the story as she has to process how her family is now affected by the Depression. The main things she mentions about herself (not being frilly, etc.) are the contributing factors to why I am so frustrated with her ever increasing collection of clothes and things. The basics are not an issue (kitchen, laundry, tree house, scooter, school outfit, flour sac birthday dress, hand-me-down holiday dress, pjs, and overalls outfit) those are consistent with the times. It’s when we branch out to reporter, special event, mini golf, etc. that’s when I get frustrated.

    Ruthie is an awesome friend and I love how we meet and get to know Stirling. (If you haven’t read the rest of the books, do – he really comes around as a great guy!

    Uncle H not wanting to help out because he isn’t going to “throw good money after bad” was a common thing in families too. Sad, but common.

    I too forget that this was a global economic crisis and not just limited to the USA. It is very interesting the habits that grew out of the crisis. My grandmother would wipe paper pates to use again at another lunch time or mark our paper napkins with an initial if they weren’t to dirty after one meal.
    ~Xyra

    Hi! Grace here. Kit is an interesting character. i really felt for her when she found out her family was in a similar circumstance to Stirling and his mom. I loved how she fixed up the attic for her bedroom; it really suited her better. The 1930s were definitely a hard time to live in and I want to learn more about the global impact. Sometimes we watch The Waltons and are really happy the family was resourceful enough to stay together. I’ve read that children were abandoned or sold during this time because the family couldn’t afford to take care of them properly. Very sad. Thanks for starting this book club! Has Abbey read Meet Kit yet? Would love to hear her point of view.
    ~Grace

    • Totally agree with you on all of Kit’s “special” outfits. The sets they keep issuing would have been popular for a family far more affluent than Kit’s. Not an average girl in a family that is struggling. My mother frequently said that they actually had more money than many families during that era, but not enough to buy clothing to go with every different activity!

      Hey Grace, Abby here! Yes, I read Meet Kit and I loved it! I’m anxious to read the rest of them. I thought it was interesting how Kit’s idea of Stirling and the reality were completely different and how her opinion of him changed just in the first book. I can’t wait to read the rest.
      –Abby

      • Hi, Abby! Yes, isn’t that wonderful how Kit’s opinion of Stirling starts to change as she gets to know him. i like that very subtle lesson. The rest of the books are great! Melody has read them all and is encouraging the rest of us to too.
        ~Grace

  8. Finished reading it! I really liked it! It was a quick and easy read, and it held my attention well. One thing that is quite different between Kit and I is that I would have loved that pink frilly room. I had one similar when I was growing up, and it was a dream. I felt just like a real princess. 🙂 I really felt sad that Kit had to be moved to the attic, but she seemed to get along up there just fine, and it looks like she ends up liking it better anyway. I’ve always loved all of the outfits that are available for Kit. I know, it’s totally unrealistic that she would have had that many outfits, but I still love them. Her collection is my favourite. I also loved that she would write up a newspaper for her dad every day. I thought it was so cute that he was so interested in reading her papers when he got home from work. I thought it was really sweet when he comes along the road with his shoulders slumping, and she decides that she is not going to let it get the best of him. 🙂 The summary of the Great Depression at the end of the book was very interesting too. I enjoyed looking at the real photographs, and reading about the stock market. We just went through a bout where my husband lost his job, and couldn’t find another for quite some time due to the drop in the oil field economy, so this hit home for me. Luckily he was able to find a new job and we are back on our feet again, but the fear of not knowing what we were going to do for so long was unbearable. I couldn’t imagine how the people back then must have felt. Or I guess I can imagine, it would have just been ten times worse for them.

    ginnie / http://www.fakingitmostly.com

    • I wonder in recent years with the economic downturns if more girls found Kit’s story relatable? Glad to hear that things worked out for your family. It is definitely no fun not knowing.

    • I had a pink room and loved it. My mom tried to mature it a bit and surprised me with burgundy bedspread and matching curtains…from BLAIR! The material was still like hotel bedding and looked like drying blood against the pink walls. Yeah, that was not a nice tantrum I threw.

  9. Sorry to join in late! I originally read the BeForever version of Kit’s story first (last year) so wanted to go back and read the original Meet Kit book. It’s a quick and easy read. The illustrations are so nice. I think it’s funny that AG is making books without the illustrations now, while other novels (the Harry Potter series come to mind) are now releasing illustrated versions!

    I find it interesting to read these books. Characters like Addy and Caroline go through such intense trials and tribulations, and yet are always kind and hopeful, eager to go above and beyond. Then you read about Kit, and she fusses over her bedroom because she has to move to the attic. Then characters like Molly fuss because she has to share a bedroom. And the modern characters are usually moping over one thing or another. We’ve become a society of complainers that really experience little true hardship. I know I’m 100% guilty in that respect (I did just bemoan to my husband that my brand of deodorant is no longer in production and it’s awful to no longer smell like myself!). I never really warmed to many of the more modern characters, and I think it’s because of this. I admire the older characters more.

    I tend to get frustrated with Kit. She never seems to appreciate Ruthie, thinks little of Ruthie’s interest in fairy tales, can be very belittling of her “best friend”. Kit and Ruthie never seem to do what Ruthie might enjoy, it seems like it’s help Kit with her newspaper or go away. I find Kit to be very self-involved. We just don’t click.

    • I’m not sure I agree with her being totally self centered. yes, she plays the “It’s not fair” card a lot and gets hung up on the idea of change. After everything settles in though she learns to love some of the changes and appreciate Ruthie for her generosity and straightforwardness. It’s got to be hard when your best friend’s dad is getting ready to take away your house.

      I agree about the illustrations. they made the books extra special and accessible for so many readers. I think they may be thinking their audience thinks themselves too old for pictures. When, as you pointed out, adult readers are clamoring for the new Harry Potter illustrated editions.

      Molly’s storyline made me cry. She had a lot on her plate and then had to share. Of course, one of the things that really gets to me is that we no longer care which house holds a service man or woman’s family. But Molly is for another time.

      The really modern ones – GOTY stories less than 5 years old – I completely agree the stories and characters revolve hurt feelings and not getting their way. The older ones brought in some social or environmental awareness.

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