https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51yRrHfKYtL._SX339_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg This image shows the importance of Jethro (the boy) and how even though he lives on a farm, the war always seems to be in the background of what is going on around him. He is bigger in the picture showing that he is of more importance to the story. The pitchfork and the tall grass give readers and idea of what kind of farming the boy might be doing. The soldiers in the background with the mist around them infer that with the news of the war everything is still unclear.
Hunt, Irene, and Albert John Pucci. Across Five Aprils. Chicago: Follett Pub., 1964. Print.
When looking back at a children’s book as an adult your perspective can open. Every time you reread a book you learn something. In this case I had the opportunity to read a children’s book that, even as an adult, brought me out of my comfort zone. In the book Across Five Aprils by Irene Hunt, it takes a boy who lives on a farm and has him face tough choices in a world where war could break out at any moment. The story is focused through the eyes of the child and what he thinks of the situation around them.
After meeting and befriending a man with a bad family name, the boy, Jethro Creightons finds himself in a scary situation. Jethro and his family find out that men are trying to hunt them down and destroy their home because they befriended the man that the whole town hates. At this point, the war has taken over his home in Illinois. When a death has stricken the family Jethro gains more responsibility within the family. Since the war creates a dangerous world around the child, he moves to find peace and continue his studies.
In the beginning of the book, the reader’s eyes are opened to what farm life is like. It talks in depth about the imagery of everyday farm life. Miss Creightons is the mother of Jethro. Even in her old age she continues working in the field every day, from dawn to dusk, with her children in order to help provide for the family. She also shows a strong motherly role when she opens her door for strangers and gives them what food she has to offer. She treats friends as if they were her own children and is very wise. It’s also pointed out that at the time of the story illness was very common and lead to a high death rate. Jethro was seen as the favorite child because most of his relatives died of sickness before they reached his current age. With farming every moment of work counts and the faith in God is a strong subject to her. The children are taught to read and write properly by a school teacher with some college experience but for the older generations the only thing they know how to read is the paper and the bible. Mis Creightons makes several references to the bible such as “The Lord God created the earth and all upon it, Jeth. I don’t like to hear that His work waren’t of the best” [Hunt, Across Five Aprils,8].
Through a child’s eyes, curiosity is the biggest part of the world. Jethro is always looking up to those older than him and he also looks up to those he feels are wiser. Throughout the book he mentions that he looks up to his older brothers but at the same time knew his place as the youngest. It is amazing to see through the eyes of a child and one way to do that as an adult is to read children’s books. Through Jethro’s eyes, at only age 9 he could see that the world was troubled. To him, when the talk of war was on everybody’s lips he thinks, “Dread of war was a womanly weakness, he had discovered, evidenced by his mother’s melancholy and the tears of Jenny and his brother’s wife, Nancy” [Hunt, Across Five Aprils,6].
In Hunt’s writing it tells the opinions of multiple points of view. With the constant debate of the war and the wait for President Lincoln’s declaration of war, readers see the thoughts of those who live in the north and the south. It is pointed out by the cousin of Jethro that the south has strong opinions about the north. The southerners think that the north wants to interfere with the way of life in the south by trying to free they slaves and anyone who thinks against that should move up north with the industrialists. While the north believes that slavery is wrong and that it is not only taking away the slave’s bodies but their souls as well. It also slightly infers the President’s hesitancy of going to war which keeps everyone on edge. To me, I feel that this topic is still relevant in our society today. The talk of war always puts people on edge and slavery has always has been an issue.
The people of the small farms have to take a whole day to travel into the next town for the newspaper to stay up to date of the war at hand. She also shows it by having Jethro listen to the gossip and the opinion of the adults around him. This grabbed my attention because now we can just grab our phones, open social media and look for what is happening currently around us. It is so easy to get social media and computers that we don’t have to travel far to get the information. I believe that we often forget how hard it was to get information
Overall, this book was very insightful to a child’s point of view and what it was like to live on a farm during the civil war. It allows readers to show the true effect of adult’s actions and opinions on young children. I enjoyed how having the stress of the war on everyone’s minds was a topic that anyone care relate to. With all the different aspects of the book as a whole it made the book have more depth and it made the book more interesting. Children are like sponges and they watch the world with open eyes and ears. This book represents a childhood on the farm while the world around it is in distress.
Recently I have had my attention drawn to 4H, by friends and other people around me. For me and growing up in the city I have no idea what 4H even is or what is their purpose. On the 4H website one statement that is mentions is that “young people learn by doing.” The organization provides multiple programs for kids to get involved. The main purpose of 4H is to help kids to develop skills to succeed in life.
A little bit of history: the 4H club was started in Ohio in 1902. The start of 4h was after school clubs and fair to get kids involved. The 4H did not become official until 1912 after the creation of the logo in 1910. Since then 4H has spread throughout different communities other than strictly agriculture communities. There are more diverse programs other than animal science programs to reach out to more kids.
4H even has their own pledge:
I pledge my head to clearer thinking,
My heart to greater loyalty,
My hands to larger service,
and my health to better living,
for my club, my community, my country, and my world.
For me this sounds like Girl Scouts which is what I participated in growing up. Both provide the opportunity for youth to gain skills that they will use in years to come. While Girl Scouts focused more on the encouraging the girls to be a better version of themselves, 4H teaches skills such as farming and agriculture based skills. For me if I had the opportunity to do 4H I would have because in many of my classes the students who have taken 4H understand the material more than those who haven’t. Growing up I learned a lot from the camps and the different activities that I did taught me a lot. I also had a great community of friends through different Girl Scout events that I even talk to today. I can only imagine what 4H does for those kids who grow up in a small agriculture town and what it helps them accomplish. The purpose of 4H is to help kids learn by doing and I think that programs like this should be more popular in all areas to get kids outside more instead of staying inside and playing videogames. Kids have become less active in the past 10 years and the issue needs to be addressed. For kids in the city 4H will give them the opportunity to get the outdoors experience that is lacked when living in the city. For kids living on a farm setting, it gives them the chance to build upon the skills that they learn at home and to have a break from home life and to hang out with kids in similar situations.
In today’s culture movies are a pig part of everyday lives. If you are an equine enthusiast like me, then you have probably already seen the movie War Horse by Steven Spielberg. This time watching it, I paid more attention to the beginning of the movie where they focus on the lives of the farmers. In the beginning of the movie the poor farmer went to an auction and bought a horse to help plow his field. The importance of getting the horse was to help make farming easier on the old father. While the wife was furious because they could not afford the horse, the son kept him and trained the horse to plow. The farmers lived simply and did not have much. After reading the hierarchy of farming, I would consider them sharecroppers since someone else owns their house and the land. If the farmers did not have crop for that season they could lose the house. After a horrible storm the crops that were already planted were ruined. While the mother lost all hope, the father and son kept their faith. Since they couldn’t plant again in the same field they turned to a challenge of clearing a field with giant rocks. With the determination and hard work of both the horse and the son, they were able to accomplish the task.
After watching this movie it really put into perspective what goes into farming. It truly is not a simple task and anything can make or break the season. In the movie the rain was the reason they had to start all over. The soil was soaked and roots had not taken a hold of the ground. Farmer’s whole lives revolve around the production of crop for the entire year, without it they could lose everything. Even on the worst days these hard working people keep up their faith and see how everything goes. This movie showed what farmers might go through on an everyday basis. Other than the loss of crops the movie also gave me an idea of what challenges farmers need to overcome and the fears that they may have. During this time it was World War I, in Germany, where there was a lot of changes and most of the money and men were going towards the war. I can not even imagine living as a farmer during that time.