Author: Carol Ryrie Brink
Caddie's story is as much about her tomboy adventures with her brothers as it is about the frontier experience. She prefers exploring the woods more than the more "ladylike" pursuits embraced by her mother and older sister in the house. The traditional gender roles defined in the book are more than a little uncomfortable in light of 21st century sensibilities, though less so than the stories about Native Americans. Those issues aside, the stories are charming enough. Caddie's growing up moments center around the development of empathy: empathy for her Native American neighbors, for her tattle-tale younger sister, for her more refined Boston cousin, etc. Overall, I'd say the book is better than Little House, which I've begun several times but never finished, though far inferior to Anne of Green Gables.
Our daughter has long expressed an interest in the Upper Midwest, particularly Wisconsin and Minnesota. Her affection for this book helps me to understand why. Brink's love for the northern woodlands is obvious. We're hoping to make a cross-country journey sometime in the next few years and that part of the country seems a likely target for exploration.
For my part of the swap, I gave her A Spell for Chameleon by Piers Anthony. I first read the book when I was about her age, 13. I'll be interested to see what she thinks of it. She's a far more sophisticated reader, especially of fantasy, than I was.