Revisiting Little Women on Louisa May Alcott's Birthday

November 29th marks the 191st birthday of American writer Louisa May Alcott. Born in 1832, Alcott was one of four sisters raised in Massachusetts by social worker Abigail Alcott and educator Amos Bronson Alcott. Her childhood and family became the basis of her most famous work - Little Women. It tells the tale of the Marches, four sisters navigating life during the Civil War while their father is away serving the Union Army. Their bond, which endured despite clashing personalities and changing lives, has captivated audiences for decades.

The story has been adapted into many forms - television shows, operas, and most recently a film directed by Greta Gerwig. Interestingly, it has also been adapted into new books. Over the years, authors have revisited Alcott's narrative, weaving new tales just as captivating as the original. They have all added their voices to the story, retelling, reimagining, and remixing the Marches in unique ways. The books listed below represent just a fraction of the adaptations that exist - and all are available with your Yonkers Public Library card.

More to the Story by Hena Khan
Juvenile Fiction
"This is the worst Eid ever!" begins this novel by author of the critically acclaimed Amina's Voice. In this reimagining, the Marches are the Mirzas, a Pakistani American Muslim family in 21st century Georgia. Our narrator is seventh grade journalist Jameela, a Jo March analogue looking to make her mark on the school newspaper. While limited to one sister's point of view, Khan writes a familiarly tight-knit, endearing family and includes some interesting twists on the typical Little Women story.

Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy written by Rey Terciero, illustrated by Bre Indigo
Juvenile Fiction
In this modern graphic novel retelling, the Marches are a blended family coming of age in New York City. Indigo's art brings the story to life in clean lines and vibrant hues as the girls face the trials and tribulations one would expect to find in a Little Women adaptation. That said, the narrative does not restrict itself to the original story beats, making good use of the change in time period. Terciero masterfully writes the Marches into the modern day, rendering this take on them both familiar and fresh.

So Many Beginnings: A Little Women Remix by Bethany C. Morrow
Young Adult Fiction
This remix retains the Civil War setting of the original novel while introducing a new set of March sisters. On Roanoke Island in North Carolina, recently emancipated families like the Marches work to build new lives for themselves as the war rages on. Though their circumstances differ greatly from those of the little women from the original novel, Morrow lovingly crafts a group of sisters just as vibrant as their Massachusetts counterparts, celebrating their hopes, fears and joys as they grow together.

Great or Nothing by Joy McCullough, Caroline Tung Richmond, Tess Sharpe, and Jessica Spotswood
Young Adult Fiction
This novel moves the March family's tale to the early 1940s as the United States enters World War II. It begins after Beth's illness, and finds the sisters grappling with the fallout. As they seek out their fortunes in a rapidly changing world, they try to cope with what has happened and what it means for them going forward. Each of the girls is written by one of the four authors - a unique choice that helps their individual voices come alive.

Marmee: A Novel of Little Women by Sarah Miller
Adult Fiction
Margaret, the March girls' steadfast mother, is the focus of this retelling. Written as a diary of her days managing the family's modest Concord estate, readers are given a glimpse into the struggles of raising four young women alone during the turmoil of the Civil War. With no change in time period or location, this is likely the narrative most faithful to the original on this list. That said, its lack of plot innovation is made up for in the depth Miller adds to an essential, often overlooked character.

Amanda Ospina is a Children's Librarian Trainee at the Riverfront Library. She loves books that revisit classic tales from a different point of view, like After the Fall by Dan Santat and Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine. Levine is one of her favorite authors - others include Emma Steinkellner and Oge Mora.

Information in this post was sourced from Encyclopedia BritannicaLouisa May Alcott's Orchard House, Kirkus Reviews, and Publisher's Weekly.

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