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I have been in love with all things Alcott since I discovered Little Women in third grade. My grandmother’s gift of Flower Fables the following year was the beginning of my collection, which originally was of the volumes printed by Little, Brown & Co.

In March, 1997, I chanced upon a used bookstore in Sacramento, CA, where I found a  1906 edition of Aunt Jo’s Scrap Bag Volume I:  My Boys, etc.  The delicious teal blue binding hinted of wondrous things inside, but I took it home and put it on one of my Alcott shelves and never read it.  Until this challenge came along, and it was time.

Aunt Jo's Scrapbag,  Volume I:  My Boys, etc. Little, Brown & Co. 1906

Aunt Jo’s Scrapbag,
Volume I: My Boys, etc.
Little, Brown & Co.
1906

Originally copyrighted in 1871 by Louisa May Alcott as a Christmas gift for her family (then again in 1899 by John S. P. Alcott), reading this volume feels like sitting next to “Aunt Jo” and hearing her tell her stories.

The inscription on the fly-leaf of the book.  Perhaps it was a Thanksgiving or birthday gift to young Mister Vanderbilt.

The inscription on the fly-leaf of the book. Perhaps it was a Thanksgiving or birthday gift to young Mister Vanderbilt.

I took my copy out to the back yard early yesterday morning and sat under a shady tree to read.  The preface begins, “As grandmothers rummage their piece-bags and bundles in search of gay odds and ends to make gifts with which to fill the little stockings that hang all in a row on Christmas Eve, so I have gathered together some stories, old and new, to amuse the large family that has  so rapidly and beautifully grown up about me.”

Louisa’s sense of humor, as well as her intense love for “her boys”, shines through in this little book.  I think my favorite story is “Buzz”, a tale of her friendship with the fly she names Buzz, “on account of his fine voice”.  They share her rooms quite cozily for many weeks, until she leaves for a lengthy visit with family twenty miles away during the winter.  Unfortunately, in her absence, her friend dies from the cold.  She, of course, buries him in her garden, where she remembers him as she waters her plants, saying, “Grow green, ivy, lie lightly, moss, shine warmly, sun, and make his last bed pleasant to my little friend.”

I’m looking forward to sharing these stories with my granddaughters.

2015 Reading Challenge #20/50.

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