Saturday, July 29, 2017

Let's Not Forget - Make-Do Stories

One of the things I loved about Robbie Branscum's stories is that the main characters were well-versed at making-do.   Not a single Robbie Branscum title can be found in the four libraries in my area consortium.  I'm not surprised.  Her work was geographically specific to the folks living in the woods of Arkansas. Her last book was published decades ago.  I hope we don't forget her.

Making-do stories - books about poorer people who manage to create what they need from what they have - appeal on so many levels.

1. Lots of modern families are secret make-do families. The obsession with "life hacks" is experiential proof of that. Think of left-overs, hand-me-downs, re-engineered bicycles and toys.  The books show modern readers families who have to make-do with less. 

2.  We learn from them.  Who knew you could make a sling from thread scraps and a stick?  I'm sure I'll never need to know how to do that but what if?  Right?

3.  Make-do stories are on a par with the survival shows that are so popular on reality TV.  We read and wonder, how will they fix that?  How will they survive?

4.  These stories inspire us.  When the Five Little Peppers manage to surprise their mother with a birthday cake and decorations made from scrap paper, it makes the reader wonder why she ever made a fuss over not getting a new whatever on HER birthday.  And if the reader is a child, he might also wonder if his own mother would like a birthday surprise.  Surprise!

5. Make-do stories encourage pride in being inventive!  They also encourage perseverance and independence.

Here are some of my favorite "making-do" stories.  (I don't think that making-do is an actual subject heading, btw.)

Ike and Mama series by Carol Snyder.  In the tenements of New York, during the early 1900s, Isaac lives with his mother and father and faces the difficulties that come with making-do.  The stories reflect the diversity of the tenements and the untrammeled hope that immigrants had.

Five Little Peppers
The Moffats
Little Women
A Certain Small Shepherd

I will add more when I run across them.

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