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How to review this? The title cries out for it to be compared and contrasted with "Little Women" which would be unfair to this really fine book. Here are some authors with works in the same class as "Little Women": Lucy Maude Montgomery, "Anne of Green Gables"; Eleanor H. Porter, "Pollyanna"; Kate Douglas Smith Wiggin, "Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm"; Johanna Spyri, "Heidi"; Frances Hodgson Burnett, "A Little Princess", "The Secret Garden". These works are sui generis. It is simply not fair to compare other works with them even those by the same author. These authors wrote many other really great works (see Project Gutenberg) which are not in the same class as the ones above but nevertheless are enjoyable and worthwhile in their own right. Not every book is "War and Peace" (which all acclaim and few read) or "Pride and Prejudice" (which almost everyone reads and makes an unsatisfactory (except Firth/Ehle) movie version.
The stars of this book are the boys, however keep an eye on Jo and her Professor Bhaer, who as adults, make the rules. In a good kid's book, it is always the adults who set the standards and provides the framework for growth and development of decent human beings. Bearing in mind, this is the 1880's, twenty years after the war, before antibiotics, modern medicine, air conditioning, phones, etc., the situations, problems and solutions seem quite modern and germane to 2010. Most of all, this book is fun. Boys are mischievous and will find a way into every kind of trouble. It is interesting how much power the two little girls have over the behavior of the boisterous boys. This is a power innate to women if they choose to exercise it, a forgotten influence in today's world. The narrator, C.M. Hebert did her usual fine job of keeping track of children, adults and multi-storylines.
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I loved the narrator of this book! Her voices were perfect for the story. Little Men is such a beautiful story of how love, patience, and principled discipline can shape a family or school culture that will elevate all.