Because she desperately wants to have her picture taken, ten-year-old Amy finds a way to accumulate the necessary five dollars but then decides to spend it in another way.
NOTE TO TEACHERS
In the Classroom
The Portraits of Little Women collection is an exciting way to introduce young readers--both boys and girls--to the American historical period of the mid-19th century. Each story provides connections with the subject areas of language arts, history, social studies, and the arts and offers the chance to explore such themes as careers, customs and traditions, and making decisions.
Have students explore America in the 1860s by discussing some of the differences between the Southern and Northern ways of life. Encourage them to keep this information in mind as they read the Portraits of Little Women, imagining the time period in which the March family lives.
Ask students to research events from the Civil War to create a time line. Here are the first and last entries to start them off:
April 12, 1861--Confederate troops attack Fort Sumter
May 26, 1865--Confederate troops surrender
Did you know?
The Civil War was four years long and took place from 1861 to 1865.
Fought between the North, trying to abolish slavery, and the South, desperate to preserve slavery, it was also known as the War Between the States or the War of Secession.
More American soldiers lost their lives in the Civil War than in any other U.S. war.
Abraham Lincoln was President during the Civil War and his leadership led to the end of slavery.
Making Choices -- In all four Portraits of Little Women stories, the March girls are forced to make difficult decisions. Divide the class into four groups and have each group read one of the books. Then have students from each group identify the conflicts in each story and invite discussion using the questions below.
Meg decides to bring her sisters to her friend's picnic even though she is the only one invited. Did Meg do the right thing? Ask students what they would do in a similar situation.
Jo decides she must be the one to live with Aunt March. Ask students to explain how Jo's decision might be considered selfish or unselfish.
Discuss how the March girls reach their decision on who should accompany Father and Marmee to New York. Is their decision fair? Why or why not?
What is Amy's motivation to use her savings for a photograph of Marmee to give to Father? Ask students if they were ever torn between doing something for themselves or for another, and how they resolved it.
This activity can also be used as a springboard for a discussion on differences between the value of money then and now. Why is taking a photograph such a sacrifice for Amy? What made photos so expensive then? What might be important enough for students to consider spending their own
ABOUT THIS BOOK
Beautiful Amy March, the youngest March sister, is a talented artist. Everyone praises her lifelike portraits. The one person she can't draw is herself. So when a photographer's studio opens in town, Amy is thrilled. Now her pretty blond curls and piercing blue eyes can be captured forever in a photograph.
A photograph costs quite a bit of money--more than she has, and more than her parents can give her. Amy thinks of a clever way to come up with the money...and soon she has enough. But she decides to spend her savings on a gift for her father--a gift that will warm his heart when he's far away from home, and that ultimately gives Amy an unexpected gift in return.
The following books are also discussed in this guide:
Meg March is the perfect young lady. Her gracious manners and sweet personality make her very popular at school. And when she is invited to Mary Howe's fancy picnic, she wants to go badly. Nothing her tomboy sister, Jo, says against snobby Mary Howe changes Meg's mind. Meg claims Jo is just jealous that she wasn't invited too. But on the big day, the March parents are visiting friends, and the housekeeper is called away on an emergency. Meg knows she should stay home to watch over her younger sisters--even if it means not going to the picnic. Still...she doesn't want to miss the fun. And forgetting her manners, Meg does something that turns the picnic into an unforgettable afternoon.
Tomboy Jo March would rather die than spend time with wealthy, proper Aunt March. She'd much rather race against the boys at school or star in all the swashbuckling plays she writes. But when Aunt March offers to adopt one of the March sisters to help ease the family money problems, Jo decides to make the ultimate sacrifice. She'll tear herself away from her sisters and parents--the family she dearly loves--if it means they'll have a better life. She's determined to become the perfect lady. Now Jo has to convince her family that she's sincere about her decision by taking on a role that may be too difficult to act.
Painfully shy Beth March is excited to be visiting New York City with her parents. The theater, opera, symphony, museums--Beth loves every minute of her adventure. She even meets Abraham Lincoln, and has the courage to tell him that women deserve the right to vote.
But once she's back home in Massachusetts, none of Beth's schoolmates believe that she really spoke to Mr. Lincoln or that she even met him. They know Beth is shy--too shy to speak to a man running for President of the United States. Even Beth's younger sister, Amy, thinks she's lying. Now Beth wishes she'd never been to New York...until she's surprised by an unexpected visitor.
Meg Makes a Friend
Romantic Meg March is thrilled when she's asked to sing at Lily Prescott's wedding. She practices with extra care because she loves the bride and wants the celebration to be beautiful.
But as soon as Meg meets the groom's much younger sister, Julia Thorpe, the two girls clash. Meg can't believe that Julia dislikes Lily and is angry when Julia changes the wedding song seconds before the ceremony. What's worse, when the wedding couple takes off on their honeymoon, Julia comes to stay at the Marches! Meg watches as Julia charms all of her sisters--as she seems to take Meg's place in their hearts. It's time for a showdown that will make Meg and Julia enemies for life, or turn enemies into special friends.
Jo Makes a Friend
Exuberant Jo March never sits still. Whether she's racing against boys or scribbling and acting in her latest play, Jo is always active and creative. So when Aunt March asks her to befriend Pauline Wheeler, Jo can't believe that the girl spends every day cooped up in her bedroom. True, Pauline is blind and utterly dependent on her governess, but her fear of life exhausts Jo's patience. The two girls simply have nothing in common--until they're caught in a snow squall that changes their lives.
Each of the girls has a choice to make about the beautiful brooch.
Meg's Christmas Dream: Meg would gladly exchange it for a gift for her father....
Jo's Christmas Dream: Jo behaves like a total scrooge and must learn the true spirit of Christmas.
Beth's Christmas Dream: Beth discovers what her sisters' and parents' lives would have been like without her.
Amy's Christmas Dream: Always happy to receive presents, Amy surprises everyone when she bestows a gift to a poor little girl.
This quartet of Christmas stories captures the joyful spirit of the holiday season.
Amy's Story by Susan Beth Pfeffer[0-385-32529-0]
Bess's Log Cabin Quilt by Anne D. Love[0-440-41197-1]
Dakota Spring by D. Anne Love[0-440-41290-0]