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Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, with eBook

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Mrs. Pepper, a widow, and her five children lived in a plain little brown house where she struggled to feed and clothe her lively brood. The family had little in the way of luxury and hardly any of the things that many of us today take for granted. But they had such fun and good times together and loved one another so dearly that when a very rich little boy discovered the Mrs. Pepper, a widow, and her five children lived in a plain little brown house where she struggled to feed and clothe her lively brood. The family had little in the way of luxury and hardly any of the things that many of us today take for granted. But they had such fun and good times together and loved one another so dearly that when a very rich little boy discovered the warmth and happiness that flooded the little brown house he felt himself lucky to be in it. And as it turned out, his coming brought luck to the Five Little Peppers too. The adventures of this poor but loving Pepper family—Ben, Polly, Joel, Davie, and the adored youngest, Phronsie—have charmed young audiences for more than a century. Overflowing with warmth, suspense, and many delightful surprises, this classic remains as compelling as ever.


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Mrs. Pepper, a widow, and her five children lived in a plain little brown house where she struggled to feed and clothe her lively brood. The family had little in the way of luxury and hardly any of the things that many of us today take for granted. But they had such fun and good times together and loved one another so dearly that when a very rich little boy discovered the Mrs. Pepper, a widow, and her five children lived in a plain little brown house where she struggled to feed and clothe her lively brood. The family had little in the way of luxury and hardly any of the things that many of us today take for granted. But they had such fun and good times together and loved one another so dearly that when a very rich little boy discovered the warmth and happiness that flooded the little brown house he felt himself lucky to be in it. And as it turned out, his coming brought luck to the Five Little Peppers too. The adventures of this poor but loving Pepper family—Ben, Polly, Joel, Davie, and the adored youngest, Phronsie—have charmed young audiences for more than a century. Overflowing with warmth, suspense, and many delightful surprises, this classic remains as compelling as ever.

30 review for Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, with eBook

  1. 5 out of 5

    Manybooks

    The first of a series, Margaret Sidney's Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (first published in 1881) tells the story of the Pepper family (five siblings and their widowed mother), their joys, their struggles, their love for one another. Rather episodic in nature, and definitely of its time (there are elements of religious preachiness, strict gender roles and definite social stratification present), the chapters, while generally readable and at least mildly enjoyable, are also at times rather The first of a series, Margaret Sidney's Five Little Peppers and How They Grew (first published in 1881) tells the story of the Pepper family (five siblings and their widowed mother), their joys, their struggles, their love for one another. Rather episodic in nature, and definitely of its time (there are elements of religious preachiness, strict gender roles and definite social stratification present), the chapters, while generally readable and at least mildly enjoyable, are also at times rather majorly far fetched, with some rather too obvious coincidences (so much so, that there at least sometimes seems to be an almost fairy-tale like aura of disbelief encountered, which can be a bit disconcerting, as Five Little Peppers and How They Grew seems to have been primarily written as a piece of realistic fiction). Especially the serendipity presented at the end of the novel (when Percy, Van and Dick's father returns and is revealed to be Mrs. Pepper's cousin) does tend to feel more than a bit artificial and forced (and while I know that this was often part and parcel to family type children's stories of the 19th and early 20th century, I do wonder whether modern children reading or attempting to read Five Little Peppers and How They Grew might not feel as though they are being force or spoon fed, that they are being told a story that kind of defies belief and one that assumes innocence and even a degree of naiveté on the part of the reader). However, even more of an issue (for me personally at least) is the presented writing style, the narrative flow of Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, the words used/encountered, and the way many of the characters act (or rather, emotionally, extremely act out). I find Margaret Sidney's narrative style at best slightly scattered, unorganised and also often seriously overly emotional, with especially the Pepper children regularly screaming, laughing loudly, crying, on their knees praying (and constantly disclaiming or proclaiming their love, their fear, their pain, their joy). Of course, a novel where the characters are described as being mostly devoid of emotion would also not be natural, but in Five Little Peppers and How They Grew , the constant emotional outbursts actually make many of the characters seem rather exaggerated and even perhaps slightly strange and unnatural, almost as though they are defined primarily by their emotions (or rather by their excess of the same). I would still somewhat recommend Five Little Peppers and How They Grew, especially to those who are interested in what I call vintage girls' fiction or vintage family stories, but I do much wonder whether modern children would really enjoy this novel, or wether they would also be (like I was and remain) more than slightly put off by the obvious and heavy-handed coincidences and especially the overly exaggerated emotionality of much of the printed text. And consequently, while I will likely end up reading the rest of the series at some time in the future, this will be more due to academic interest and not necessarily because I expect to in any ways greatly enjoy reading the sequels. 2.5 stars (but not willing to consider 3 stars)!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Hannah

    Let's just say that I loved this book so much that I own three copies of it! An old one that matches the rest of the Five Little Peppers series, a 50's era one with color illustrations, and this pocket edition. (Of course, small books have their own charm, but when I found this edition I really didn't have to try hard to find an excuse to buy it also.)

  3. 5 out of 5

    Julia

    I have an old "antique" (well, just really, really used) edition of this book that my grandmother handed down to me when I was a kid which I suspect added to the feeling that it took me back in time. I loved it. If you liked Alcott's An Old Fashioned Girl, you will like this. If you think those old novels for children about families overcoming hardship and learning to appreciate one another despite lack of material goods, etc., etc. are painfully cheesy you will not like this.

  4. 5 out of 5

    J. Boo

    I remembered this very fondly, but on re-read I discovered that the second part was entirely blocked out of my memory. No recollection of reading it at all. Perhaps I had to return the book to the library before finishing? A dog -- or younger sibling -- chewed the last half into shreds? The start, with the Peppers in their Little Brown House and doing their best to make ends meet, is excellent. This is the part I recalled. But then prosperity strikes, and the two girls of the family are surround I remembered this very fondly, but on re-read I discovered that the second part was entirely blocked out of my memory. No recollection of reading it at all. Perhaps I had to return the book to the library before finishing? A dog -- or younger sibling -- chewed the last half into shreds? The start, with the Peppers in their Little Brown House and doing their best to make ends meet, is excellent. This is the part I recalled. But then prosperity strikes, and the two girls of the family are surrounded by kindly, loving people who continually discuss how wonderful the aforesaid girls are and "gentle reader fwowed up". 4.5/5 for before fortune smiles on the Peppers, 2/5 for the aftermath. I'll average it out to a "3". Available on Gutenberg.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Obsidian

    This book took me forever to finish and I finished it in starts and fits. I was supposed to read this a few months ago for Dead Writers Society genre challenge and never got back to it in time. So I don't count this book towards the genre challenge since I didn't finish it in the month I was supposed to, but dang I want something for finishing this. "Five Little Peppers" is about Mrs. Pepper and her five children, Ben, Polly, Joel, Davie, and Phronsie. The family is not doing very well since Mr. This book took me forever to finish and I finished it in starts and fits. I was supposed to read this a few months ago for Dead Writers Society genre challenge and never got back to it in time. So I don't count this book towards the genre challenge since I didn't finish it in the month I was supposed to, but dang I want something for finishing this. "Five Little Peppers" is about Mrs. Pepper and her five children, Ben, Polly, Joel, Davie, and Phronsie. The family is not doing very well since Mr. Pepper has died. Mrs. Pepper is a seamstress of some sort and is doing what she can to keep her family fed and under one roof. Too bad her kids ask repeatedly for things that they have to know their mother can't afford and just at times act like jerks. I really couldn't get a handle on everyone. The book really doesn't flow together very well. This whole thing felt like a collection that was than wrapped up into one book. Some chapters work well together, and others do not. I didn't really care for the writing probably because Ms. Sidney chose to write the book in the way that some young kids speak at certain ages. It drove me crazy sometimes to work out what someone like Davie or Phronsie was trying to say. The flow was not great because once again not all chapters flowed into each other naturally. And there was a bigger problem as I said that the book as a whole did not feel as cohesive as it should have.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Pewterbreath

    When I was little I was known as the kid who read. People in our town would give me books just because I was the kid who read. (I've read since I was three). This was one such book--a neighbor woman gave the book to me. I never liked it very much because it's like a honey, chocolate, and jam sandwich. Hooo-boy!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Drebbles

    "The Five Little Peppers" are Ben, Polly, Joel, Davie, and Phronsie. Their father died when Phronsie was a baby and Mrs. Pepper struggles to earn enough money to support the family. Despite their poverty, they are a loving family, full of spirit and adventure. Ben and Polly do what they can to support the family, but a bout with measles threatens the well being of the entire Pepper clan, especially Joel and Polly. The family has other adventures and befriend Jasper King during one of them. This "The Five Little Peppers" are Ben, Polly, Joel, Davie, and Phronsie. Their father died when Phronsie was a baby and Mrs. Pepper struggles to earn enough money to support the family. Despite their poverty, they are a loving family, full of spirit and adventure. Ben and Polly do what they can to support the family, but a bout with measles threatens the well being of the entire Pepper clan, especially Joel and Polly. The family has other adventures and befriend Jasper King during one of them. This friendship will enrich their lives in ways they never thought would be possible. It's always interesting as an adult to reread a book that I loved as a child. When I was young I thought how much fun the Peppers had and longed to belong to a large family. As an adult, I realize how poor the family really was and how quickly the children had to grow up. As a child I thought how terrible it was that Polly couldn't read for days on end because of the measles; as an adult I realize the Peppers couldn't even afford to buy books. First published in 1881, "The Five Little Peppers and How They Grew" is old-fashioned (the doctor even makes house calls!), but still enjoyable. The Peppers are all delightful children, with Joel being the most honest of the bunch as he complains about having to eat the same food every day. Margaret Sidney was a talented author, who could make even inanimate objects, such as the stove, seem alive. The children's adventures may seem simple to today's young readers, who are used to Harry Potter and the like, but it's a refreshing change.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    There are some children's books I reread and still love. Books like this on the other hand, make me wonder how I thought it was interesting as a child.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Erik Graff

    There being no library in the nearest town, my early reading during summers with Mother and my paternal grandmother in the latter's cottage near Lake Michigan was severely limited by what was on hand, mostly books belonging to "Nanny", my grandmother. Fortunately, she was quite a reader. Mikey Spillance novels not being of much interest yet, I picked up her old copy of the first Little Peppers novel because it was clearly a children's book. Indeed, the edition had been published when she was just There being no library in the nearest town, my early reading during summers with Mother and my paternal grandmother in the latter's cottage near Lake Michigan was severely limited by what was on hand, mostly books belonging to "Nanny", my grandmother. Fortunately, she was quite a reader. Mikey Spillance novels not being of much interest yet, I picked up her old copy of the first Little Peppers novel because it was clearly a children's book. Indeed, the edition had been published when she was just about my age. Unfortunately, it was really boring and really long, perhaps the longest books I'd read on my own by that time. The late Victorian sentimentality of the author struck me, even then, as cloying, as all-too-precious. Dark thoughts were evoked as I began imagining disasters escalating into absurdity rather than always being happily resolved. Still, I finished the thing and do have one clear, rather pleasant memory of laying on my stomach on my parents' big bed downstairs on a particular sunny afternoon, book opened on their green corduroy spread. The memory of that brings to mind another of the same bed in an earlier summer. It was custom going back as far as memory for me to run downstairs upon Nanny's daily announcement that she was intending to straighten up the rooms. There was just enough time for me to unzip their quilt cover and crawl in before she, with much advance warning, hobbled down the stairs to confront the notoriously lumpy bedclothes. One lump--me!--was always especially recalcitrant, requiring much poking and proding before breaking up into giggles and laughter. I auppose I may have perservered through Nanny's kid book partly out of respect for her. She was a wonderful grandmother. That old steel bedframe, said to have come from a hotel originally, is the one in my room to this day, Nanny and Mother being dead and the cottage in Michigan in ruins.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Brenda

    This is a real classic. The story of the Little Peppers was one of the first books I read as a child and made such an imprint on me. The story became alive at that age. I wish there were more stories like that written today.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Diane Mueller

    This was my all time favorite book when I was a child. I must of read it four or five times. I just wanted to be part of the Pepper family.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Michele

    A sweet, wholesome story of five children meeting poverty with cheerfulness and creativity. Probably a bit saccharine to modern eyes, but I loved it as a child and still do.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Laurel Hicks

    I've loved this sweet story since childhood. The children are very real, mostly, and the adults supportive and thoughtful.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Mitchell

    This was my favorite book as a kid. I found it in one of my old boxes the other day and realized that I haven't thought about it for years. It was amazing... I think.. haha.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Billie

    This is one of my favorite books from childhood and, in a fit of readerly nostalgia, I decided to re-read it for the first time in decades. You can't go home again. I could see why I loved this book as a child but, oh does it have some issues. There are two single-parent households with no explanation as to what happened to the missing parents. Characters drop into the story with no introduction, just all of a sudden "Bob" is there and you're wondering who the hell "Bob" is. My largest issue with This is one of my favorite books from childhood and, in a fit of readerly nostalgia, I decided to re-read it for the first time in decades. You can't go home again. I could see why I loved this book as a child but, oh does it have some issues. There are two single-parent households with no explanation as to what happened to the missing parents. Characters drop into the story with no introduction, just all of a sudden "Bob" is there and you're wondering who the hell "Bob" is. My largest issue with this book, though, lies in the idea of the rich older man swooping in and "rescuing" the Peppers from their poor-but-happy existence because he has a deep affection for a four-year-old. (I'm not sure if he offers to marry Mrs. Pepper or hire her as his housekeeper. Maybe they're one and the same to him. And I really don't want to think too deeply about his deep, immediate affection for Phronsie.) I'm not giving this a star rating because grade school me gives it five stars with sparkles and rainbows and adult me would be feeling generous to give it two stars.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bambi Moore

    Enjoyed this much more when I read it 15+ years ago. The vocabulary is certainly great. But overall it’s just too sweet to be believable.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Ruth

    I read this because the Gilbreth children in Cheaper by the Dozen liked it, but I was disappointed. It seems like a lot of the plot and characters are ripped off from Louisa May Alcott's books Little Women and An Old Fashioned Girl, down to the oldest girl being named Polly! I checked, and both of these were published before the Five Little Peppers. Margaret Sidney even lived in the same area as Louisa May Alcott: Concord. Or maybe it's just that all of these books use common themes of 19th cent I read this because the Gilbreth children in Cheaper by the Dozen liked it, but I was disappointed. It seems like a lot of the plot and characters are ripped off from Louisa May Alcott's books Little Women and An Old Fashioned Girl, down to the oldest girl being named Polly! I checked, and both of these were published before the Five Little Peppers. Margaret Sidney even lived in the same area as Louisa May Alcott: Concord. Or maybe it's just that all of these books use common themes of 19th century literature for children. In any case, Louisa May Alcott is a much better writer than Margaret Sidney. The Pepper children are just too perfectly good to be true, and none of the characters is particularly well-drawn. That said, it gives a realistic description of Polly as a "parentified child" who feels that her main purpose in life is to help her mother support the family. She is only persuaded to pursue her own education when she is convinced that her mother will be more distressed by her failure to do so than by the loss of her practical and emotional support.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lynne

    Another wonderful story from my childhood that has remained in my memory all these years. I also shared this one with Makayla. It is the story of hardship, love, & perserverence after the 5 Little Peppers lose their father. In late 1800 America it was very hard on their mother to keep this close-knit family together but she managed to.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Maureen

    The five little Peppers are the sweetest, most responsible and helpful children in the world who are always happy even though they are very poor. The perfection of the Pepper children gets a little corny, but the stories about them are cute and fun to read, and there is a surprising plot twist at the end!

  20. 5 out of 5

    Janel

    My grandmother gave me a copy of this when I was a girl, and it wasn't a complete edition. When I read the complete book to my children, I wondered why all children's literature isn't this sweet. We love it!

  21. 5 out of 5

    CLM

    First in another great orphan series - Ben, Polly, Joel, Davie, and Phronsie actually have a mother, who is bravely bringing them up on virtually nothing. If only their deceased father's family hadn't turned their backs on the young Pepper family!

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jan C

    I remember reading this book with my mother - and it was her copy! So I think that is why I gave it four stars - it brings good memories of growing up. I no longer know what the story was about - but I think they were very poor.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    Good book for kids. Seeing the happiness from a family living in poverty. Teaches us to have a good attitude regardless of our circumstances...krb 2/10/16

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alice

    Read this aloud over many months to my granddaughter. It was a childhood favorite of mine and still holds charm. Definitely rather wordy. Styles have changed!

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sara

    This is definitely an older book and it shows. With little details like the gas lighter was coming around because dusk had just started, are one of the reasons why I keep reading this book.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Jeanette McCulloh

    A sweet tale of a poor family who worked together and sacrificed for each other. I enjoyed this book when I read it as a child. The first and second books were the best in the series.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Amy

    My oldest enjoyed this book! We started reading this aloud and it fell by the wayside, but she picked it up and finished it out! :)

  28. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Vegan

    I read this whole series and really enjoyed it; I still have 5 or 6 of the books I had when I was a kid. I haven’t perused them lately, but I’m not convinced they’d hold up for today’s young readers.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer

    So many wonderful messages about happiness and contentment and love--all of them independent of material wealth. Great family read aloud.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Joann

    I bought this book because I remember my Mom talking about reading it as a child. Oh dear. I would say that books have changed and Five Little Peppers is just a product of its time, except that the book was written AFTER Little Women. (And, Five Little Peppers, published in 1881, seems to have many, many similarities to Little Women, published in 1868. However, the author of FLP couldn’t seem to copy the warmth, complex characters, and rich detail of LW.)

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