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 Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews

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PostSubject: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Sat Sep 08, 2012 8:28 pm

Chapter 1---The Letter
Thirteen year old Almanzo was helping Father finish up the chores in the barn.
It was getting cooler as fall began. Almanzo loved fall. He loved the
different colours of leaves and the new sights and smells that the harvest
brings. But this year would be different and Almanzo was not looking forward to
it. This year he was going to have to go to Malone to the Academy with his
sister Alice. Until now, he had been attending school at the local schoolhouse
just a mile or so away. He enjoyed being able to stay home and help with the
chores if Father needed him but now he would have to go and stay at the Adademy,
live with strange boys and eat school food. Royal was finished school and would
help Father run the farm. Mother wanted Almanzo to have an education, so it was
decided that he would go to Malone.
As they entered the kitchen and cleaned their boots, the smells of supper made
Almanzo's stomach growl. Alice carefully snuck a dinner roll from the table and
quickly handed it to him without anyone seeing. She knew that he was always
hungry. Eliza Jane was talking to Mother in the kitchen and looked at Almanzo
strangely. How did she always know when he was doing something he shouldn't?
A letter had come from the west from Uncle George, Mother's brother. He had
recently bought a farm in Spring Valley, Minnesota. Eliza Jane took the letter
to Father and then went to a fussy baby. Yes, everyone was surprised when
Mother became pregnant and gave birth to baby Perley, twelve years younger than
Almanzo. But Almanzo liked having a little brother and hoped to be a good
example for Perley as Royal had been for him.
The family gathered at the table and Father was already reading the letter.
Perley fussed and had to be taken to bed in the crib in Mother and Father's
bedroom. Almanzo looked forward to the day when he wouldn't be the last in the
family to receive his dinner. Soon, that would be Perley's job.
"George is enjoying the west. It makes me wonder if going west might be a good
idea for us too." Almanzo sat straight up and felt his heart flutter. Many
people had left for the west besides Uncle George and Almanzo had dreamed what
it would be like to ride Starlight across the open grasses of the prairies.
Mother had been missing her youngest brother but commented about leaving the
rest of her family behind.
"If we are going to move, we should do it before any of our children get settled
so that they can come with us" Father said.
Almanzo became excited. Perhaps he wouldn't have to go to the Academy after
all. Alice looked excited as well but Royal did not. Royal didn't want to be
a farmer. He had dreams of becoming a storekeeper instead and had already began
working at one in town over the summer.
"We have been invited out for a visit to see the west and to meet George's new
wife. I think a visit would be a good way to decide."
"But when?" asked Mother. "And what about this farm?"
"We wouldn't be gone long and Royal can run the farm. Eliza Jane can stay and
keep house. Maybe Almanzo could stay too and help out."
Almanzo's heart dropped. He would have to stay here and be bossed by his older
brother and sister. This would not be as fun or exciting as it had been when
Mother and Father went away for a week to visit Uncle Andrew a few years before.
The children had had fun that week, but this would be for a longer period of
time and Almanzo was not looking forward to it at all.
"Almanzo is to begin at the Academy" Mother reminded. Father looked at Almanzo.
This was his chance.
"I think I would learn more by traveling and seeing things. I could help on
Uncle George's farm and take care of the horses, sir."
"But we would be leaving Starlight here" Father answered. Almanzo could hardly
imagine not seeing his beautiful colt for six months or more but it would be
better than staying home with the older siblings and going to town. He didn't
know what to decide.
Alice volunteered to go on the trip to help take care of Perley.
Father allowed Almanzo to decide for himself. Finally Almanzo decided to go on
the trip. Father smiled and Eliza Jane frowned.
"Let's do it Angeline. It is only a visit and if it doesn't work out for us, we
can always return home."
"As you wish James" Mother answered.
It would be an adventure for them and Almanzo was excited. He was going west.

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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:01 am

Chapter 2---Sad Farewells

It takes a long time to prepare for their trip. Almanzo is glad his work
keeps him in the barn, so he can avoid Mother's flurry of activity:
cleaning, packing, and mending. Mother wants to make sure they will have
everything they need in Spring Valley; and even though Father has told
her that the trains will come and they won't be far from a general
store, Mother keeps packing.

One day in January, Mother calls Almanzo to carry a trunk up to his
room. He had never seen such a trunk before. Mother explains it is a
Jenny Lind trunk, but Almanzo doesn't know who that is. Mother explains
Jenny Lind is a singer from Sweden who came to America before Royal was
born. Mother tells him how Father took her to New York City to see Jenny
Lind sing. Then Mother sings the song Jenny Lind sang about coming to
America. Almanzo had only heard Mother sing in church or sing nursery
rhymes to Perley. He thought her voice was pretty enough. Almanzo lifts
the trunk up to his room. It's heavy, and he's not sure how he'll carry
it back down once it's full.

It's almost the end of winter when the Wilders are ready to leave.
Almanzo is sad about leaving his beautiful horse, Starlight behind.
Starlight was the first colt Father helped him raise. When Starlight was
four, Father asked Almanzo if he wanted to sell him. Almanzo could
easily have sold him for two, or maybe, three hundred dollars. But
Almanzo planned to spend many years riding Starlight. Now he had to
leave Starlight behind.

Royal assures his younger brother that he will take care of Starlight.
Almanzo knows that, but he soon begins leaving instructions. Eventually,
a frustrated Royal throws up his hands and says, "I know how to care for
horses! Do you think working in a store has turned my mind to molasses?"
Almanzo thought it was possible. Royal thought more about the price of
wheat than how best to exercise a horse--and Starlight was special.
Almanzo realizes he must trust his brother to care for Starlight while
he is gone, but he gives him one final instruction: "Just-don't let
Eliza Jane ride him or drive him, all right?" Royal promises.

Almanzo invites Royal to join him and Starlight on a final gallop before
leaving. Royal saddles up his horse, Flame, and Almanzo saddles up
Starlight. Soon the Wilder brothers are racing to the end of Father's
land. When they stop for rest, Almanzo admits he wishes Royal was coming
with them. His older brother would like to see the stores in Spring
Valley. Then the boys discuss whether it is better to be a shopkeeper or
a farmer. Royal says, "Well, you can have your farm, and then you can
ride into town and buy your supplies from me." The talk soon turns to
girls, and even then the brothers don't agree on what type of girl would
be best. They dash off toward the barn, Almanzo promising Starlight that
he'll come back soon and take him out west, where they will, "run and
run and run all the way to the end of the sky."

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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:02 am

Chapter 3---Riding The Railroad

The early morning of the day of departure arrived and Almanzo found himself wide
awake long before it was time to get up. He was almost afraid to go sleep in
case he slept in and made them all late to the train. But Mother would never
let that happen. In what seemed like a moment he opened his eyes again and
found that a speck of daylight was growing outside. He must have gotten a few
more winks. He tried not to move too much in the bed or else Royal would wake
up. Faintly he heard Father preparing to go out to do the chores one last time.
Almanzo quietly got up and washed with the ice cold water in the wash basin. He
put on his good suit that he was to wear on the train and crept down the stairs.
He found Mother in the kitchen preparing an extra early breakfast.
"Can I help Father with the chores, one more time?" he asked.
"Not in those clothes. I want you to be clean when we travel" Mother answered.
Father understood Almanzo's heart and let Mother know that it was ok for Almanzo
to go out and walk around the barns one last time. Father was not going to do
the chores but just check a few things. Royal would do the chores later on.
Almanzo followed Father out and "said goodbye" to the barns, the horses, the
sheep, Star and Bright and the rest of the things that he grew up loving. He
was careful when giving Starlight one last carrot that he didn't get dirty. He
surely hoped that Starlight would remember him when he returned.
The family enjoyed Mother's pancake breakfast as Royal did the chores and then
brought the buggy to the door. Father helped him to load the trunks and Mother
got the satchels ready. Alice held a dinner pail. This make Almanzo relieved.
He had wondered when or how they would eat on a train. He ate an extra big
breakfast, just in case lunch wouldn't happen!
The buggy was loaded with everything and everyone except Eliza Jane. So they
all had to say goodbye to her at the house. Almanzo was almost sorry that he
was leaving her, until she fussed about his collar being crooked and his hair
being messy. Royal would have to deal with her by himself.
At the train station Mother and Father bought the tickets as Almanzo, Royal and
Perley said goodbye to Royal. Almanzo would miss talking to his big brother.
Alice almost shed some tears until Royal made a joke and made her laugh. Their
parents returned and said goodbye to Royal before he climbed into the buggy and
drove back the way they had come.
When the train arrived Father and Almanzo helped the porter to load the trunks.
Alice helped Mother with Perley and the bags as they climbed into the train.
Soon the train started up and Malone began to disappear. Almanzo sat beside the
window and watched everything going by. The adventure had begun. As he sat, he
wondered. He had never thought how a train stayed on the tracks. He also
wondered where they would sleep. He asked Father and found out that they would
be changing trains twice before arriving in Buffalo. They would then ride a
Pullman train from Buffalo straight to Chicago. This was amazing, three trains
in the state of New York alone.
When it came time to change trains, Almanzo was almost disappointed that he
didn't see more of the town. He had no time to leave the station. The next
train was bigger and more fancy than the first one. At noon Mother brought out
the lunch pail and shared the lunch with everyone. The afternoon was a long one
but Almanzo never tired of looking out the window. In Buffalo they got off the
train in the darkness and found themselves in a large group of people. Everyone
was either saying hello or goodbye to someone. It was a very busy place. Alice
held Perley and stood close to Almanzo as they followed Mother and Father
through the crowd. Perley had missed his bedtime and was a very tired, fussy
baby. Alice tried to settle him against her shoulder and help him to rest.
Soon Father saw a familiar face, his cousin Edward, who lived near Buffalo.
Father had made arrangements for him to meet them and take them to the hotel.
Unfortunately, he had not space for them to stay in his tiny home. It was a
hard job for Almanzo to stay awake on the buggy ride to the hotel and when they
did arrive, he was asleep as soon as his head hit the pillow.

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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Sun Sep 09, 2012 4:00 pm

Wow. Just reading three chapters, I can tell this a good book. I enjoy reading the 3 chapters, that you posted on here. Thank you, Marilyn. Applause

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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:09 am

Thank you for posting all this! It's really great, because I can notice that this book is very much written in the same way than the TRUE "Little House Books". And I can almost feel Almanzo´s happyness for not going to Malone Academy. He was not an "academic type", and I share is father point of view in the book: he'll learn a lot of things going West.

The characters are very well portrayed: Royal, who didn't want to be a farmer, Almanzo who was born to be one, bossy Eliza Jane, kind Alice, busy and loving mother, a working but at the same time bright father...I was missing all of them after finishing "Farmer Boy" many, many years ago. Do you know that "Farmer Boy" was the first "Little House" book I've ever read?

Vanesa. Thumbsup

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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Mon Sep 10, 2012 2:00 pm

Chapter 4---A Few Surprizes

The next morning, the family had breakfast at the hotel with Cousin
Edward. There were scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, and heavy corn
muffins. Almanzo thought the muffins weren't quite as good as Mother's.
He also didn't think there was enough to eat. But since he wasn't doing
chores today, he probably wouldn't get as hungry as usual.

Now that he was awake, Almanzo could appreciate Edward's horses. They
were good horses, but not as good as Father's horses. If Father had
trained them, they would have behaved better. Clip-clop they went
through the streets of Buffalo. This was one of the largest cities
Almanzo had ever visited. The sidewalks were filled with people bustling
about. Glossy horses pulled buggies up and down the wide roads below
tall brick buildings. Through the windows, Almanzo saw men in spectacles
at their desks, surrounded by papers.

"I bet Royal would like it here," Almanzo said to Alice. His sister
thought no one could be bored in such a busy place. Almanzo preferred
the fresh air and his horse.

When they got to the train station, Father bought two sets of tickets:
one for the train from Buffalo to Chicago, and the other so they could
ride on the special Pullman car. The Pullman cars were painted dark
green instead of black like the rest of the cars. They were taller, too,
with windows that opened and closed high up in the car. A friendly
porter helped Almanzo lift the trunks onto the car.

Almanzo thought the Pullman car was as elegant as the hotel they had
stayed in the night before. The floors were carpeted and sparkling glass
domes covered the oil lamps. But he wondered where the beds were, so he
asked Father. "You'll see," Father replied.

A man with sharp, darting eyes and a stiff, bristly little mustache
joined them in the car. He kept licking his lips and pressing his hands
together until the knuckles cracked. The man didn't like it when Perley
fussed. He gave the baby a scornful look. Almanzo decided he didn't like
the strange man.

The train stopped many times, making for a very long day. At noon,
Father went to the dining car and came back with food wrapped in brown
paper. A little carafe of water in a little holder sat at each bench.
The porter would come in and refill the carafe. The porter stayed in the
car at all times and helped the passengeers. Almanzo was sure he never
wanted to be a porter.

Finally, it was nighttime. The porter got up and went down the car,
lighting the lamps. The porter bowed to Father and asked him to move
while he made the beds. "Now watch this, Almanzo," Father said.

Almanzo watched as the porter undid two leather straps and a piece of
the wall leaned out and folded down into a flat bench. On the upper
bench was a plain mattress. The porter put on white cotton sheets, a
pillow, and blanket. Then the porter went down to the lower benches and
worked a mechanism underneath the seats. Almanzo was shocked to see the
cushions he had been sitting on all day slide down. When they met up
with the seat across from him, they formed a flat mattress, which the
porter also put bedding on.

Then it was time to get ready for bed. Father and Almanzo went down to
the men's washroom, while Alice, Mother and Perley went to the women's
washroom. By the time Almanzo and Father returned, Alice and Mother were
under the covers, with Perley tucked between them. Almanzo saw the
porter had hung up a privacy curtain in front of their bunks. After he
climbed up, Father could pull the curtain and the strange man wouldn't
be able to see them sleeping.

In his bed, Almanzo could see the moonlit landscape rushing by. It made
him feel alive and excited. He thought of all the people he might meet
in Spring Valley, and soon he drifted off to sleep.

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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Mon Sep 10, 2012 8:39 pm

Farmer Boy goes West sounds like another great book to add to my collection. Marilyn, you done a wonderful job on your chapter reviews. They are so well detailed. greenS Thank you for taking the time to post your reviews. I can't wait to get my copy now. Bliss

He doesn't always answer in the way that we want, but in a way He thinks is best for each of us.
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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Mon Sep 10, 2012 9:52 pm

Cheryl and I are doing these together. I just post hers along with mine.
Glad that everyone is enjoying these reviews. But the book is much better, go and buy a copy!!

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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Tue Sep 11, 2012 2:44 pm

Chapter 5--Spring Valley

When they finally arrived in Spring Valley, Almanzo was surprised to see that
the train station was as big and as busy as the one back in Malone. He
noticed a young boy standing at the end of the depot. He waved at Almanzo and
Alice and then he helped a very pretty girl with her trunks. This girl was the
prettiest girl that Almanzo had ever seen. Soon 2 sets of adults greeted each
other and then they all left the station.
Almanzo heard a voice calling his parents and then saw Uncle George greeting
Father and Mother. The smile on his face drooped when the noticed Alice,
Almanzo and Perley. He was thinner than Almanzo remembered but his blue eyes
still sparkled.
As they drove away from the depot, Almanzo took notice of the town. It was
bigger than he thought it would be. It didn't have a town square for
Independence Day festivities but the sidewalks were new plank boards. The
family had received letters telling that new building were going up in Spring
Uncle George was excited to tell Father how rich the soil was and how prosperous
a farm would be. Mother and Father looked at each other and smiled. Almanzo
was hopeful that Father would like what he saw.
The buggy passed the schoolhouse and Mother was pleased to know that her
children would have a fine education. It had 8 rooms and 10 teachers. Alice
was pleased but Almanzo's heart sank. It looked just like the Academy. Father
gave him a halfhearted smile and right then Almanzo knew that he would soon be
holed up inside studying instead of exploring this new land and helping Father
find a place to build a farm. He was devastated!
Uncle George's house was north of town and when they arrived, Almanzo was
surprised at how small it was. It didn't look like it was big enough for them
to stand it, never mind live in. The trunks were unloaded and the horses were
taken to the barn before Aunt Martha came out the door. She stood on the step
and stared as both Father and Mother greeted her. The children were introduced
and she still stared.
She was not expecting CHILDREN! He looked at Perley as if he was a strange
animal. She was not a happy hostess as the family followed her into the house.
Almanzo saw Alice's uneasiness and took her by the hand and squeezed it. She in
return gave him a weak smile. Father had left the rest of them to go and help
Uncle George in the barn.
There were only 3 rooms downstairs and a small attic upstairs. It looked as if
it all needed a good cleaning. Almanzo wondered what Mother was thinking as she
looked at this house. Her perfectly clean house back in NY had never looked
like this! Almanzo was beginning to wonder if he should have come, he could be
back home right now with Royal eating pancakes instead of here being looked at
by this woman who didn't seem to like him before she even had a chance to know
The men returned from the barn and Aunt Martha told Uncle George that he was to
find places for everyone to sleep while she found some supper for everyone.
Mother followed her to the kitchen to help with the meal.
The two oldest children were to have the attic but there was no place for a baby
to sleep in this house. A crib had to be built for Perley and Almanzo was give
the job. Uncle George looked troubled and Father suggested that they go out for
a walk to see the farm. The children followed the men as Father tried to calm
George's fears. The children were good helpers. Alice is strong and determined
and Almanzo is a hard worker and is good with animals. These kind words helped
Almanzo feel better but he couldn't shake the feeling that he wasn't wanted
here. These relatives were not like the friendly ones back home.
Was Spring Valley really the place for Almanzo and the family.
Would they ever feel at home here?

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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Wed Sep 12, 2012 1:14 pm

Chapter 6---Runaway

Living with Uncle George and Aunt Martha made everyone uptight. Almanzo
was afraid he might do something wrong at any moment, so he tried to
stay as still as possible in the house. He didn't think he could be
relieved to go to school, but as Alice and he walked along the road, it
felt like they were escaping from a prison.

Perhaps Mother and Father would decide they should stay in Malone.
Mother did not like being in someone else's house when they weren't
welcome--even though they had been invited. She missed her friends too.
Father worried about Uncle George's farm. His uncle didn't have boys to
help out, and the farm suffered for it. Mother thought perhaps that was
why Martha was so tired--doing housework and helping with the farm.
Almanzo figured Mother could have done all that and more without ever
needing to sit down.

Maybe things would get better. Almanzo wasn't ready to leave Spring
Valley yet.

Alice and Almanzo climbed the hills to the big brick schoolhouse.
Almanzo saw a group of boys racing around the yard. One small boy yelled
instructions to the others as he ran. The boys were busy with their
game, so they didn't notice Alice and Almanzo. A group of girls gathered
on the steps saw them, though. Almanzo saw them lean in to whisper to
each other.

Just then, a voice yelled from behind them. "Hi, look out there!"

Almanzo heard hooves beating on the road. The runaway horse was running
so fast, Almanzo feared the reins would get tangled in its hooves and
injure it badly. Almanzo stepped to the side and seized the loose reins
as the horse galloped past. The horse jerked its head back and reared in
place. Almanzo had already grabbed the saddle and flung himself on to
the horse's back by the time the horse turned toward him. Almanzo let
the horse make a wide circle.

Murmuring to the horse, he held the reins firmly in both hands. "Whoa
there, handsome." Soon the gallop slowed to a trot, and then Almanzo
brought the horse to a stop. "There's a good fellow," he said. It was
then that Almanzo realized he probably dirtied his good school clothes.
Mother would not be pleased.

"More of a lady than a fellow," said a boy's voice.

Almanzo looked down and saw the boy from the train station. His face was
red and he was out of breath. The runaway horse was his. He thought it
amazing how Almanzo had stopped his horse. Alice said it was foolhardy
and reckless. The boy couldn't keep the admiration from his voice. "But
did you see what he did?"

Alice then scolded the boy for letting his horse run wild. The boy said
Velvet was a good horse. Almanzo thought perhaps she had been stung by a
bee, and Alice felt sorry for how cross she had been.

Two from the group of girls reached out to Alice and drew her into their
circle, while Almanzo's new friend, Albert Baldwin, shook his hand.

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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Thu Sep 13, 2012 3:46 pm

Chapter 7---First Day of School

Albert Baldwin, the boy with the horse, hitched her to the post behind the
school as Almanzo waited for him on the steps. The bell had already rang and he
didn't want to be late on the first day, so Almanzo followed a group of boys
into the school. There was a long hall with 4 doors going off into the
schoolrooms. A staircase was at each end of the hall and there was a door at
the end of the hall. Students were headed in every direction, each of them
knowing where to go. Almanzo looked for Alice but she was nowhere to be seen.
Suddenly someone pushed Almanzo from behind and made a rude comment. Almanzo
was stunned. Why would anyone treat a stranger like that. He became angry but
at that moment Albert, or Bert as he liked to be called, came to his rescue and
put the bully and his brother in place. Almanzo followed Bert up the stairs.
He was very thankful to have found a friend so quickly. Together they went into
one of the classrooms. They sat together at a desk. Alice was in the same
room, sitting with a pretty girl wearing a blue dress. Almanzo started to
worry. Alice had attended the Academy for 5 years. He had only gone to school
off and on over the past few years. He knew that he wouldn't be in the same
class as his smarter sister.
The teacher's name was Mr. Lloyd. Since there were many new students in the
room, he would give some tests to determine which class everyone belonged in.
This made Almanzo nervous. He didn't want to go to the lower class where he saw
that bully go. He worried that he would not please the teacher.
Two by two, the students went up to Mr. Lloyd's desk and he asked them questions
in history and geography. Alice did very well on her questions. When it was
Almanzo and Bert's turn, Bert knew every answer but Almanzo made a few mistakes.
Next Mr. Lloyd lined everyone up against the blackboard for a spelling bee.
Almanzo did well until he missed a word in the 3rd round. He was happy that he
had made it so far, much farther than many of the students. He was relieved to
be able to sit down and watch as Alice and Bert ended up as the last 2 spellers.
Round after round they spelled their words correctly until Mr Lloyd promoted
them to the next class. The rest of the students would remain in Mr. Lloyd's
class. Almanzo breathed a sigh, he would not be going down to the lower class.
Bert was sorry that he would be leaving Almanzo behind. But they would see each
other on the schoolyard. And perhaps someday they could ride horses together.
Almanzo could almost see himself and the family living in this new land. But it
wouldn't really feel like home until Royal and Starlight were here.
He looked over at the map hanging on the blackboard. He found NY and the dot
that represented Malone. It didn't look that far away.

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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Fri Sep 14, 2012 5:24 pm

chapter 8---Noon At Last

Bert was still sharing a seat with Almanzo, but at noon he would move to
a new classroom. The boys were sharing books. Bert would finish reading
long before Almanzo, but he patiently waited until Almanzo was done.

Almanzo felt uncomfortable in his good clothes with boots on his feet.
He wanted to be running free in the fields. He was also very hungry. His
stomach growled and Bert had to stifle a laugh. He tried not to think of
food, but he kept wondering what Mother packed in the dinner pail.

Finally, Mr. Lloyd said it was noon. After lunch would come music
lessons. Almanzo had never heard of such a thing. Almanzo begged Alice
to eat outside. The other girls told her she would ruin her complexion,
but in the end, Alice agreed to sit in a shady spot to share her lunch
with Almanzo. Alice found a bench and unpacked the wonderful food--most
of it made by Mother: chunks of hard cheese, graham bread with
blackberry preserves, sausages, and fluffy doughnuts.

Almanzo enjoyed eating outside, watching the other boys play Cowboys and
Indians. Almanzo asked who the little boy was that seemed to be in
charge again (the boy he had seen when he and Alice had arrived that
morning). Bert told him that was Dick Sears. Bert called Dick over and
introduced him to Almanzo. Bert encouraged Dick to tell Almanzo about
his plan to own his own watch store someday--a store that he would name
after himself.

"So remember the name Sears," Bert told Almanzo.

Then Dick rushed off because Eddie and Elmer were coming down the steps.
That's when Almanzo saw the same girl he had seen at the train station.
She was prettier than he remembered. One of the other boys, Joshua, came
up and asked Almanzo if he wanted to play baseball after school. Almanzo
had chores that day, but he planned to ask Father's permission to stay
after school and play tomorrow.

Once lunch was over, they went into Miss Lowe's room for music lessons.
She didn't look up at them, but she told them they would start with
scales. Then they moved on to "Yankee Doodle Dandy." Miss Lowe turned
around to them, then, and taught them about notes, parts, and keys.
Almanzo was confused. Once he looked up and thought he caught the girl
from the train station looking at him.

After music class, the girl from the train station and Alice walked up
to Bert and him. Almanzo discovered that the girl's name was Catherine
and she was Bert's cousin. Once back in Mr. Lloyd's class, Almanzo sat
all alone. Joshua passed his slate to Almanzo, reminding him to ask his
pa if he could stay and play baseball tomorrow. Almanzo knew he would
have more friends soon. Maybe even one of them would have a horse he
could ride. It wouldn't be Starlight, but it seemed like Spring Valley
might not be too bad.

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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Tue Sep 18, 2012 4:20 pm

Chapter 9---Letters from Home

Almanzo and Alice were sitting at the table that he had helped build with
Father. The students needed a place to do their homework and so they had built
the table and chairs from wood bought when they needed wood for Perley's cradle.
There was a storm going on outside Uncle Geroge's house. Father and Uncle
George were out in the barn. Aunt Martha was snoozing in her chair and Mother
was singing softly to Perley. Almanzo and Alice were supposed to be writing
letters to Royal and Eliza Jane, back home. Mother and Father had started the
letters and they left space at the bottom for each of them to write a short
note. Almanzo was having a hard time thinking of what to write. It was so easy
to talk to Royal face to face but writing was something different. He wanted to
ask about Starlight but in the last letter Eliza Jane admonished him for only
writing about horses. So, he tried to think of something else to say.
Alice slid the letter over to Almanzo so that he could write. He read that she
had written about how much she liked her teacher. He read above Alice's note
that the plot of land next to Uncle George's house was for sale. Now, that was
exciting. Perhaps Father was thinking of buying it so they could really move
here for good, and bring Starlight!
Back to business, Almanzo wrote a few lines about meeting Bert and his horse
Velvet. He asked about Starlight and told of the antics of Perley eating fresh
plum jam.
Father and Uncle George came into the house. They had been talking until poor
Uncle was seized with a very bad coughing fit. Mother stopped singing and Aunt
Martha stirred.
"it's a fine idea, James," Uncle George continued to say. They were taking off
their boots and washing their hands. Almanzo and Alice strained to hear more of
this interesting conversation.
"Angeline thinks that it's too soon. But I am more worried about being a burden
to you and Martha." Father answered.
The men came into the room and their conversation ended. It was time for bed.
Almanzo gathered up the letters and screwed the cap onto the inkwell. Alice
cleaned the pens and they said goodnight to their aunt and uncle.
"Have a good sleep. If the weather is better tomorrow, we will go for a long
walk." Father gave Almanzo a wink.
The children quickly headed up the stairs and got ready for bed. They were
excited about the prospect that was given to them about tomorrow. Perhaps they
would finally be able to get a place of their own and get out of a house where
they weren't wanted.

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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Thu Sep 20, 2012 5:13 pm

Chapter 10---An Unexpected Meeting

How nice it was to walk around barefoot on a summer day. Though Mother
disapproved, Almanzo enjoyed the cool grass under his feet. The family
walked through Uncle George's vegetable patch. Perly had stayed with
Aunt Martha. She seemed to like him a bit more now. Almanzo watched the
animals around them. He was so excited to be outside, he whooped and ran
ahead, somersaulting in the grass, then splashing in the water of the

The family walked through the trees and stumbled upon a field where
wheat grew in odd clumps. There was a row of hedges around the field.
One of the bushes shook. Was it a wild animal? No, only a very friendly
dog. He seemed to like Almanzo.

They found a large man with a long blond beard at the edge of the field.
Father approached the man about selling the land. The man's wife wanted
to move back east. Almanzo and Alice were instructed to stay put, while
Father and Mother spoke with the man. Alice thought the dog was smelly,
but Almanzo said he was a good dog. The siblings talked about the land.
"It looks pretty good. I'd plant wheat here, if it were my farm," said
Almanzo. He wondered if Father would buy the land.

Father, Mother and the man came back to Almanzo and Alice. Father
decided they would think about it a bit. Father asked about the dog. The
man said he came with the place. He didn't seem to like the dog much, so
Father offered to take him. The dog didn't have a name. Father said to
Almanzo, "You can call him anything you want, Almanzo. He's yours now."

Mother said the dog would need to stay in the barn, but Almanzo didn't
mind. Mother and Father talked more about the land. Mother said they
should think about it a bit longer. Father felt he could be even more
prosperous in Spring Valley than they had been in Malone. Father said he
would like to settle here. The sooner they built the house, the sooner
they could be reunited with Royal and Eliza Jane. Mother told Father to
do what he thought was best. Soon the fields would be theirs. They would
have a new house, and Almanzo wouldn't need to sleep in the attic. Best
of all, Royal and Starlight would be able to come as soon as the new
farm was ready.

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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Fri Sep 21, 2012 1:52 am

Hey....This book seems to be rather good! You are really doing an excellent job, writing about what are all the chapters about. And I can easily notice that the book is written almost in the same way than all the "Little House Books". Maybe it's almost better than "Martha's " and "Charlotte's" years.

Vanesa. Smile

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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Fri Sep 21, 2012 11:04 am

I liked the Charlotte years, but not the Martha ones so much. Part of it was the cadence of the characters, but I couldn't get into that series and wasn't too sad when the author decided not to continue it.

I finished this book the other night and wrote my review at http://lauralittlehouseontheprairie.blogspot.com/2012/09/book-review-farmer-boy-goes-west-by.html
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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Fri Sep 21, 2012 2:01 pm

Thanks Vanesa. Cheryl and I are taking turns writing the reviews. Next chapter will be added within the next hour or so.

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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Fri Sep 21, 2012 3:16 pm

Chapter 11---Last Day of School

The farm beside Uncle George's was purchased and Father began building a house.
He hired 2 men to help build it so that it could be done before winter. Almanzo
liked going over to watch the building. Frank, the chubby dog, followed Almanzo
everywhere. He was named Frank after a certain cousin back in Malone.
Father also showed him where the barn was to be built. It would not be too far
from the house and would be connected by a covered walkway. This way, if a
horse was delivering a colt in the middle of the night, especially in a
blizzard, it would be easy to get to her in the barn. Father had heard about
Minnesota blizzards and so this walkway was going to be put into place from the
beginning. Almanzo wondered how long it would be until everyone was together
again. Father knew that Almanzo was thinking of Starlight and how much he was
missing his pet. It would likely be some time yet before they were completely
moved. The house and barn needed to be completed and the farm in Malone needed
to be sold. Father wanted to be handy to help Uncle George when he wasn't well
and so it may be quite a long time yet before everyone was here under one roof.
Fall arrived and with it came the harvest and the end of the school term.
Almanzo was happy to have a few months off. On the last day of school a
visiting missionary spoke to the students in the music room. He talked of how
it took 6 months to travel to India by boat and the experiences that he had
working with the people there. Almanzo had never thought about boys his age
living around the world where elephants, crocodile and monkeys lived. He
wondered if they had ever seen a horse. The missionary explained that it was
difficult to convert the people to Christianity and encouraged the students to
consider becoming one too so that more people could hear the gospel. Almanzo
had trouble enough writing essays in English and could not imagine writing
sermons as a missionary does, in Hindu or any other foreign language. He had
questions but time ran out at the end of the day and he did not get a chance to
Finally school was let out. Alice was still inside saying goodbye to her
teacher and Almanzo waited for her outside. He noticed the pretty girl from the
train station again and thought that this might be his chance to get to know her
better. He went over and introduced himself to Catherine. He asked about his
different name and he explained that it was a family name. They talked about
India and how much fun it would be to see an elephant. Catherine thought that
they would smell bad.
At home later that night when Almanzo told his mother about the missionary, she
reminded him that his own Aunt and Uncle were missionaries in India. They were
Uncle Royal and Aunt Eliza Jane, his siblings had been named after them. This
aunt and uncle had been in India for 23 years. Their children were cousins that
Almanzo had never met. She also said that sometimes missionary parents sent
their children home to go to school while they stay on the mission field. This
thought was strange to Almanzo and he was glad that he lived in America with his
parents. Family was important and he wouldn't want to be away from his parents.
He would easily trade seeing an elephant for family and Starlight, any day.
Maybe the house would be done soon and Starlight could come home.

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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Sat Sep 22, 2012 12:32 am

bethandmanly wrote:
I liked the Charlotte years, but not the Martha ones so much. Part of it was the cadence of the characters, but I couldn't get into that series and wasn't too sad when the author decided not to continue it.

I finished this book the other night and wrote my review at http://lauralittlehouseontheprairie.blogspot.com/2012/09/book-review-farmer-boy-goes-west-by.html

Great review, Cheryl...You resumed what I feel reading the excerpts Marylin is postinh here. The book must be really good, then.

Yes, I know that Melissa Wiley doesn't want to keep wtiting about Martha and Charlotte...But this is too bad for me because I liked both stories. However, I think that Martha was a little too much bratty for my taste...What do you think? scratchead


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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Sat Sep 22, 2012 3:47 pm

Vanesa wrote:
Yes, I know that Melissa Wiley doesn't want to keep wtiting about Martha and Charlotte...But this is too bad for me because I liked both stories. However, I think that Martha was a little too much bratty for my taste...What do you think? scratchead


I couldn't make it through more than a few chapters of the Martha book to form an opinion.
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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Mon Sep 24, 2012 5:01 pm

Chapter 12---Christmas In The New House

It was a late autumn day when the family finally moved into their own house. It
didn't take long for them to pack up their things and leave Uncle George and
Aunt Martha's. Before the move, Almanzo and Father had been busy building
furniture for the house. They made beds, tables, chairs and dressers. Mother
and Alice had made new curtains and bedsheets and all of this was already in the
Christmas was coming and it felt very strange not to have the whole family
together. Almanzo missed not having Royal to share a room with over the
holidays and he even missed Eliza Jane, a little bit. They would be celebrating
Christmas with Uncle Andrew and his family. Packages had been sent to them in
time for them to arrive before the holiday. Mother had worried that the gifts
were out of date or unfashionable but Father reminded her that it was the
thought that counts. Included in the box was a photograph of Baby Perley.
Mother wanted the older children to see how much Perley had grown. Almanzo
thought that it was a shame that they couldn't pack Perley's laughter and send
some along. Perley really was a cute baby.
Christmas Eve arrived and as they headed to bed, Father was sure to plead for
Almanzo not to get up at 3:30am as he had when he was nine. This teasing had
happened each year since then and Almanzo promised that it wouldn't happen
again. Even tho he was almost 15, he still had the same excitement about
Christmas as he had had at age nine.
The next morning, Almanzo slept in and had to be called breakfast. The smell of
pancakes was wafting up the stairs and he jumped up and washed in the basin on
the desk.
Stockings were to be enjoyed before chores and breakfast. Almanzo found candy
(as always) an orange (a very expensive item indeed) and 10 marbles! Now he
could join the other boys in their marble games at school. He thanked Mother
and hurried to pull on his boots to go out to the barn. Mother instructed him
"not to linger in the barn". This puzzled Almanzo as he ran through the snow.
He wanted breakfast, of course he wouldn't linger! Frank ran along beside him
through the deep snowdrifts. At the doorway he stamped his boots. His head
jerked up as he heard a new sound--one that he hadn't heard in this barn yet.
He walked slowly down the rows of stalls to the end of the row and found a hay
filled stall and a very handsome horse looking back at him!!! It was a very
young horse, maybe just a yearling.
Almanzo muttered in amazement and then heard laughing behind him. The rest of
the family were standing there laughing at the expression on his face.
Father told him that the horse was his Christmas present. He knew that Almanzo
was missing Starlight and so he bought him another horse to keep him busy. She
was a beauty, the best at the market and Father thought that maybe breed her
with Starlight.
Mother insisted that it was breakfast time and the whole family went in to the
house. But it was the quickest breakfast that Almanzo ever ate. He wolfed down
the pancakes and syrup as well as the bacon and didn't even taste the milk that
he drank. He was too eager to get to the barn and he spent the whole day there
with Queen.
Almanzo had to go back to the house for dinner because his aunt and uncle had
come to visit. But before the meal Uncle George came out to see the new
addition to the farm. He was a farmer at heart, Almanzo could see this just by
the way he looked at the horse. It was just too bad that he was so sick. No
one knew what the problem was or how to make him well.
Aunt Martha was a different person now that she had her own house back. She was
pleasant and even laughed. She brought baked sweet potatoes for the meal and
surprised the all when she lifted Perley onto her lap.
Christmas Day ended with the family sitting by the fire. Father read Perley a
book and the other were playing a new card game from the stockings. It had been
a wonderful day. Almanzo thought of the creature out in the barn. He scratched
Frank's ear and looked around the warm, safe room. Even tho Royal and Eliza
Jane weren't here, it had been a wonderful Christmas.

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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Tue Sep 25, 2012 3:31 pm

Chapter 13---A Death In The Family

On a cold, wet day in March, a soaking rainstorm left the bare trees
covered with a freezing spray; big, fat droplets that glittered like
jewels. It was so damp and cold it felt like you could never get dry

Almanzo rode Queen through the stand of trees, the mud squishing under
her hooves. Queenie wasn't happy to be out in this weather, but Father
had asked Almanzo to ride over to Uncle George's to make sure they had
enough firewood up at the house. Almanzo had overheard Mother and Father
talking of Uncle George's illness in hushed voices. They were waiting
for him to get better before they went home to Malone. But Father knew
through Royal's letters that he didn't want to be taking care of the
farm any longer. He wanted to learn how to be a storekeeper. The Wilders
had already been gone a year. Spring Valley continued to grow, and there
was a lot of work to do, especially with taking care of Uncle George's
farm too. Almanzo worried that Starlight would forget him. Maybe
Starlight would like Royal better than him by the time they got back

Almanzo wasn't far from the stream when he saw a figure moving through
the trees. The figure moved in a strange way, and as it got closer, he
could see the person's hair was loose and clung to her face. She didn't
have a hat, gloves, coat or even a wrap. She shook and stared at Almanzo
with a lost look.

"Aunt Martha, are you all right? What's wrong?" said Almanzo.

When she didn't answer, he offered to take her home to Uncle George.
"He's dead. What can he do?" she replied.

Almanzo guided her over to Queen and brought Aunt Martha to his house.
Mother helped him get Aunt Martha off the horse and they brought her
inside. Everyone in the house, even Perley, remained quiet. Mother told
her that the family would look after her.

Father sent Almanzo over to take care of Uncle George's livestock. His
uncle's farm was quiet and deserted when he arrived. While Almanzo did
the chores, he thought of how he had to tell Royal and Eliza Jane about
Uncle George's passing. When he was nearly finished, Father arrived with
two strange men in dark suits, and a load of lumber. Almanzo unloaded
the lumber into the barn. By the time they were finished, it was dark.
Mother arrived with a piece of wine-colored wool fabric to line her
brother's coffin.

What would happen to Uncle George's farm? Would Aunt Martha live on it
alone? In his head, Almanzo said his good-bye to Uncle George.

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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Wed Sep 26, 2012 7:26 pm

Chapter 14---The Basket Social

After Uncle George's funeral it was a relief to be away from the sadness and go back to school. There seemed to be so many events happening in the community but Almanzo had no time to go because he was too busy doing chores at Father's farm as well as Aunt Martha's. But Alice had some extra time to attend some of them at the church.
Father didn't mention when they would be going back to New York. Almanzo had no idea how they could leave now with two farms to work on. Aunt Martha couldn't do it on her own. She had been spending a lot of time at the Wilder's house since the funeral. She would come over and help do the cooking or the cleaning and would even spend the night if it was too stormy to go home. She would eat most meals with the family. Mother was a wonderful hostess, she loved to be able to help people. Soon Aunt Martha began to smile, wore her mourning clothes less often and then she went to a few of the socials with Alice. She sometimes came home with a man who drove a buggy with two white horses.
At school the teachers decided to try to raise money for a library. They planned to have a basket social. The girls would prepare a basket of food and the boys would bid in an auction for the basket. The winner would have a picnic lunch with the girl who brought the basket.
Bert and Alice were discussing the whole process. Alice thought that boys had to be smart and pick up on subtle clues that the girl would drop so that he would know which basket she would provide. Almanzo wasn't sure what she meant at first but as she was packing her basket, he found out. She tied her hair ribbon, the one that she had been wearing all week, around the handle of the basket that she had prepared. Almanzo had been dreaming about having lunch with Catherine but at the moment, he had no idea what colour her hair ribbons were.
On the day of the social, the girls took their baskets to school under their cloaks and took them into the school while the boys waited outside. After they were all arranged, the boys could go in to look at the baskets and peek inside to see what they held. Almanzo had no idea which one was Catherine's. Bert was casually looking for Alice's but couldn't find it. Almanzo showed it to him and Bert was going to make sure that he won THAT basket.

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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Thu Sep 27, 2012 2:14 pm

Chapter 15---The Auction
Mr. Lloyd rang a bell to announce that anyone who wishes to bid on a
basket should go into the music room. Bert dragged Almanzo along by the
arm. They squeezed into the overcrowded room. It seemed like every young
man in Spring Valley was here. Almanzo had $5 in his wallet, but surely
he wouldn't spend all of it when he wasn't even sure which girl the
basket belonged to.

Two girls carried in the first basket and the bidding began. Almanzo
didn't care for how the auction worked. Miss Thayer would say, "Do I
hear ten cents for this charming basket?" Then a boy would yell, "Ten
cents!" Then another boy would yell a higher price. It seemed every boy
was shouting at once. How did Miss Thayer keep track of all the bids?

Most of the baskets sold for a dollar. Perhaps Almanzo could afford
Catherine's basket. When the next basket came out, Bert bid ten cents
first. Almanzo couldn't see if Alice was pleased as she peeked in from
the door. After some bidding back and forth, Bert said, "Three dollars!"
Miss Thayer asked him if he was sure. He said he was. Bert won the
basket that Almanzo had told him was Alice's.

Later on, they brought out a basket with pink lacy ribbons. The bids
came fast and furious. All the girls looked horrified when the biding
passed six dollars. Now, Almanzo could't afford to buy it. Maybe it
wasn't Catherine's basket after all. Mean-eyed Eddie won the basket, and
Almanzo hoped it wasn't Catherine's after all.

The last basket was a tiny one tied with a black ribbon. It looked sad,
but included a chocolate layer cake. No one would bid on it and an eerie
silence filled the room. "Twenty--," Almanzo stammered. "Twenty-five
cents," he continued. Miss Thayer thanked him, but as soon as she
started to say, sold, a voice from the back of the room called out
"Thirty-five cents." That's when the bidding war began. Now others
thought Almanzo knew something they didn't. Almanzo wanted to win, even
if it wasn't Catherine's basket. Once the bidding climbed to four
dollars, the girls dragged Catherine into the room. Almanzo saw her
shake her head. It wasn't Catherine's basket. Oh no, what if it wasn't
even a girl from his school or someone much older than him.

The mystery voice called out, "I bid five dollars!" Almanzo was relieved
that he couldn't bid any more. "Sold!" said Miss Thayer. Then she
announced the auction was over, and people pushed toward the door.

Almanzo saw Catherine with her pink, lacy basket. Her smile didn't
change when Eddie appeared. No one stood by the last basket with its
black ribbon. Other than Catherine's it had sold for the most money.
That's when Alice arrived and thumped Bert on the shoulder. The other
girls had been laughing at how indiscreet Bert was when he bid on her
basket. Almanzo walked closer to the basket with the black ribbon. It
was Miss Lowe's, the music teacher's basket. And the mystery bidder was
none other than Mr. Lloyd.

At home, Alice and Almanzo talked about the social. He told her how
close he had come to winning Miss Lowe's basket. "Don't worry, Manzo,"
she said. "You'll find the perfect girl one day."

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PostSubject: Re: Farmer Boy Goes West--Chapter Reviews   Mon Oct 01, 2012 2:23 pm

Chapter 16---Willy Wilder

A year has passed since Almanzo stood on the platform of the train station and now he finds himself here again. The Wilders are not leaving Spring Valley, just yet. Aunt Martha is deciding what to do with the farm and Father doesn't want to rush her. They will stay until they know what her decisions are. Almanzo is at the train station to meet a guest!
Father received a letter from his youngest brother, Royal, who is a missionary in India. Uncle Royal wants his son to get an American education and so he will visit the family and go to school with Almanzo and Alice.Almanzo had never met Willy before and wondered how he would recognize him. When the train did pull in, he saw a young man around his own age get off and he asked if he was Willy.
It was and they headed to the buggy. Willy acted as if he had never seen horses before and asked where the elephants were. Almanzo was shocked that Willy didn't know what a horse was!! Almanzo's puzzled face caused Willy to laugh hysterically and then Almanzo knew that he had been fooled. He had a feeling that this guy was going to be trouble. Willy hoped he could fool some others with this joke and Almanzo advised him to try it on Alice, it would be funny.
Between the station and home Willy and Almanzo talked about the difference between riding an elephant and a horse. Almanzo decided that it wasn't that much different in the end. Willy had many stories to share about India. They discussed the Hindu culture and how the weather there was much hotter than Minnesota. Almanzo thought that it was going to be fun to bring Willy to school to have him share all of these stories with the boys there.
Mother and Father were waiting as the two boys arrived home and the smell of the dinner was wafting through the screen door of the kitchen.

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