Calico Bush - Rachel Field, Gail Herman, Allen Lewis

Marguerite Ledoux (aka Maggie) is a recently orphaned immigrant forced by her circumstances to be bound-out to the Sargent family for six years. In exchange for food and lodging she will be their servant - mainly caring for the children and doing general housework. As it turns out the Sargent family is headed to rural/coastal Maine. They arrive to find their new home completely destroyed by Native Americans and even after rebuilding face monumental obstacles - isolation, hostile native populations, harsh winters, etc. Thankfully, it's not all trial and hardship, however. Maggie proves to be an invaluable resource to the Sargent family. Not only is she an upbeat and skilled worker, but she is also brave and loyal and forges deep and lasting connections in her new home.

Through out this Newbery undertaking there have been (sadly) very few novels worth mentioning, much less crowing about. This, however, is one such novel. It is totally absorbing and feels like a very authentic representation of both Colonial America and the pioneer/immigrant experience. What's more, I think it's totally relevant for today's young (and old!) reader. As of now I rank Calico Bush among my top five of this project so far. (Downright Dencey is still first!) I even liked this one quite a bit better than Field's other more famous Newbery winner - Hitty Her First Hundred Years.