Little Lord Fauntleroy by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a classic for good reason. It captures the spirit of a time now gone. The characters are interesting and the plot is intriguing. The ending satisfies the reader. And through it all, goodness prevails.

The story opens with Cedric, a boy living in a run-down house in New York City with his mother, whom he calls “Dearest,” because his father called her that before he died. He is great friends with the local children; the grocery store owner, Mr. Hobbs; the bootblack, Dick; and the elderly apple seller.

Then comes a great revelation. Cedric’s grandfather, the Earl of Dorincourt, sends word that since all his sons have passed away without producing heirs, the little American boy must travel to the land of his father’s birth and be trained to take over the family estate.

Although the Earl banished Cedric’s father for marrying an American, his mother cannot refute the fact that the Earl will provide well for her son, nor that her husband loved his old home and would be glad that Cedric should inherit it.

So Cedric and his mother cross an ocean to meet the crotchety, old grandfather. The Earl has a reputation for selfishness and greed. He loved by neither tenants nor neighbors. Due to the care Cedric’s mother takes in preparing him for this meeting, Cedric believes his grandfather to be the best of men. Soon the old man becomes sincerely attached to the boy and begins to reform his character just to please his grandson.

When all seems set for their future happiness, another claimant for the title of Lord Fauntleroy appears. Will Cedric remain at his grandfather’s side or be ousted by this newcomer? From the other side of the Atlantic, Dick and Mr. Hobbs make plans to stop such a disaster.

The book is full of humor, kindness and redemption. There are excellent examples of people working in community and of beautiful intergenerational relationships.

One difficulty for younger readers is that whole paragraphs of dialog are written in dialect. Near the beginning, the dialects are of Irish immigrants and New Yorkers; near the end of the book there are various British dialects. Parents may need to read and ‘translate’ these for children. There is also a running gag about misspelling, with examples. Your child may not pick up on it because it is brief. One character implies that Italians are hot-tempered. Some vocabulary is old-fashioned or may mean something else in current English. Such words might require explanation

The book runs about 240 pages and is intended for elementary school aged children. It has been republished numerous times and formats include print, e-book and audiobook. Little Lord Fauntleroy is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, libraries, and book stores.

If you have seen the black and white movie of this title starring Freddie Bartholomew and Mickey Rooney, you have an excellent representation of the book. I hope your family enjoys it as mine has.

Donna Fujimoto is a graduate of Alliance Theological Seminary. She has published both devotionals for adults and short stories for teens. Her children love to read.

Mrs. Fujimoto has a collection of short stories, 9 Slightly Strange Stories with an Uplifting Edge, available as an e-reader at Amazon. Find our review under “N” in the alphabetical listing: Titles We’ve Reviewed.

 

 

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