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Publisher's Summary

Debut author Mildred Armstrong Kalish, a retired English professor, records her childhood recollections in clear, concise prose. Voted one of the 10 Best Books of 2007 by the New York Times Book Review, Kalish's Little Heathens is a compelling memoir of her hardscrabble life on an Iowa farm during the Great Depression. As foreclosure fragments her family, five-year-old Mildred and her three siblings find refuge with her grandparents - God-fearing farmers, enjoying a modest retirement. When the "little heathens" flush the seniors and their child-rearing skills out of retirement, the grandparents deploy tough but loving bedtime schedules, Bible and prayer routines, and plenty of character-building chores. Having no electricity or indoor plumbing and with little heat or money on the farm, Mildred learns to find joy in the priceless blessings of life.
©2007 Mildred Armstrong Kalish (P)2008 Recorded Books,LLC

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What listeners say about Little Heathens

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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  • Susan
  • 11-03-2011

Makes you appreciate today's living

Love this story! Only reason I didn't give a 5 star is because some parts are better in the written forum. Recipes are hard to write down while I'm driving!! If people had grown up in this way of living, I believe the world would be a better place.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Kathleen McKinney
  • 08-03-2013

A glimpse of simpler times on an Iowa farm...

What made the experience of listening to Little Heathens the most enjoyable?

The narrator is perfection & really gets you involved in the story, a true re-telling of a girl growing up with her 3 siblings & her mother on her grandparent's farm in Iowa-along with a large extended family in the Great Depression. How they all 'made do' and had happy lives even through privation is amazing. Until late in the 30s, they had no electricity, no indoor plumbing, survived on food they raised/grew on the farm with the exception of coffee, sugar & salt. This is truly a case of the author passing through the fire and coming out 'refined to gold'. She takes us through to her marriage, her training as a teacher (she taught in a university for a while) and her thankfulness for the lessons she learned growing up in hard times.Very rewarding, interesting book.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Mildred, the author of the story. She always made the best of the hand she was dealt, without grumbling. I felt as though I had found a new friend. The author must have been in her 80s when it was written & her memory is amazing. I doubt if I had been thrust into her life that I could have made such a success of it as she did. She discusses just about every facet of her life, which fascinated me, since I love social history, the little things that make up people's daily life. This is a social history that the younger generation would do well to listen to, since it is so different to the way we live today-like day and night. The people who survived the Great Depression are leaving us daily, so we should ask questions of our grandparents about this period in history before it is too late.

Which scene was your favorite?

Hard to decide, but I think when the whole family got together to cook for a holiday or some special occasion & everyone helped, even the small children-the way they shared the work. There were chores for all but the smallest kids on the farm every day so everyone felt they were of help & had self-worth. There was such a feeling of family unity & love.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

If this isn't inappropriate, when Mildred began to develop a woman's shape at age 11 and when she had her first menstrual period, she was terrified for no one had prepared her for this. Finally she told her mother, who never explained why it happened or even that it would happen every month, but showed her how to use what passed for sanitary napkins when it happened again. Parents did not tell their kids the facts of life, they were left to get it 'behind the barn' and they were also taught to be ashamed of their bodies. How sad. We have gone to the opposite now where nothing much is kept secret, but this was very affecting.

Any additional comments?

I treasure this book. Since it has so many 'layers', I will certainly listen to it again & again finding details that I may have missed. I will look for other books narrated by this same fine lady, Ruth Ann Phimister. It will probably be one of my 'comfort food' books that I listen to when I am feeling blue. Anyone who is interested in how life used to be mustn't miss this book.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Dixie
  • 31-03-2012

A must, whatever your generation!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Nostalgia for older folks & Boomers remembering the old stories. Eye-opening for younger generations.

What other book might you compare Little Heathens to and why?

Any wry memoir about the good & bad old days.

Which scene was your favorite?

Halloween outhouse incident?

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Too many to mention.

Any additional comments?

Kids in the 30s were mature; kids today are worldly, What a difference!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Twang
  • 17-06-2020

An absolute treasure!

This story, and its superb telling, deserves to be recognized as an American classic. Highly recommend.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Andy
  • 23-03-2019

Rose-tinted and realistic

The narrator is perfect for the subject matter.
Expect a smattering of recipes, sad and happy stories, and even some actionable farm medicine. Heart-warming and real.
If you like All Creatures Great and Small, you'll probably like it.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Sally
  • 05-07-2012

Check other listing for this book

For some reason there are two listings for this book, one at the regular price and one at the 5$ price. I have not finished this book, only 3 more hours to go. I am finding it boring and slow. I am not interested in recipes when they are read step by step, other folks are. There is no story, no drama, just a memoir, as advertised. Anyway, just wanted to point out the need to check all the reviews for this book. Maybe they'll consolidate them.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Flaming Yawn
  • 12-05-2021

a favorite

I really love this book. I think everyone should read it. it teaches principles and skills long forgotten.

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  • Pernell McGuire
  • 14-04-2021

Required reading

This should be on the required reading list for teenagers today. Excellent description of an excellent childhood.

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  • Iread
  • 09-10-2020

So sweet! Truly enjoyed this book!!

This book was like sitting down with your grandma or great-grandma! I loved listening!! I thought the narrator’s voice was perfectly in keeping with the story and didn’t find it at all grating, as some did. I felt such nostalgia for simple times of self-sufficiency. There ARE written recipes in the story, and I can see where some would enjoy having a hard copy of these, but it’s not a cookbook, and I didn’t feel as if the recipes took away from the story at all. Overall, a sheer delight!!

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Profile Image for T. Perkins
  • T. Perkins
  • 21-09-2019

Down home, feel good, long for simpler times...

loved every word, every tale, and surprisingly, every delicious recipe! buying the print edition too!

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