Meet Kit: An American Girl is the first book in the Kit series. It was included with the Kit doll when purchased until the release of BeForever and could be purchased separately; it is now part of Read All About It!.
- Kit Kittredge
- Margaret Kittredge
- Jack Kittredge
- Charles Kittredge
- Uncle Hendrick
- Stirling Howard
- Ruthie Smithens
- Louise Howard
Only in Meet Kit
Chapter by Chapter Summary
Chapter One: Good News
Kit is smiling as she's typing on her typewriter, enjoying the sound of the typewriter keys, the ping of the bell when she got to the end of the line, the smell of the typewriter ribbon, and the look of the letters on the page as they told a story the way Kit wanted it. It's a hot afternoon in August and Kit and Ruthie were in Kit's room writing a newspaper for Kit's Dad. Even though Kit isn't a good typist and makes lots of mistakes her Dad doesn't mind. When he came home from work, he was always pleased to get one of Kit's newspapers in return for a real newspaper.
Ruthie asks Kit to read what they had so far. Kit reads out what she typed, that Ruthie was now reading 'The Lilac Fairy' as she was interested in princesses and liked fairy tales. kit was reading 'The Adventures of Robin Hood and His Merry Men' and she liked how Robin tricked the sheriff and Nottingham and how he stole from the rich to give to the poor. Kit and Ruthie agree it was a good article, and Kit asks what they should write next. Ruthie suggests that she should write about Charlie and the cookies. Kit then types how Charlie ate a whole plate of ginger snaps meant for Mother's garden club and jokes that he should try out for the Eating Team when he goes to college in a few weeks. Ruthie giggles at what Kit had written and asks what they should write next. Kit suggests they could write about the heat and Ruthie nods her head quickly before slowing down and pretending to snore. Kit agrees that the weather was boring as there wasn't any people in it.
Ruthie suggests that Kit could write how her Mother redecorated her room. Ruthie comments it was as pretty as a princess's room and asks Kit what she thought. Kit answers it was a little too pink for her and would prefer sleeping in a tree house like Robin Hood. Ruthie shakes her head as she tells Kit she was crazy, and Kit happily agrees with her. She did know that Ruthie was right, that her room was pretty. Mother had redecorated her room earlier that summer as a surprise and as with every thing Mother did, it was lovely. The room was painted pink with a white trim, there was a white and fluffy canopy bed, and a while and spindly-legged desk that looked too delicate to hold Kit's big black typewriter. Mother had asked Kit to keep her typewriter in her closet when she wasn't using it, but Kit always forgot to. But she used her typewriter so often that it was always on her desk, despite it looking out of place. Kit squirmed on the poofy stool she was sitting on that replaced her old swivel chair. While Kit believed in telling the truth straight out, she hadn't told Mother she felt out of place in her new room. Mother was so pleased with the room and was so sure the room was a girl's dream. Kit admits to herself it probably was, but it wasn't her own dream. Kit tells Ruthie the redecorating story wouldn't work as her Dad already knew all about it.Kit sighs and wishes there was a dramatic change in the household so they would have an attention-grabbing headline like a real newspaper. Ruthie is unsure if they want that as nowadays when her parents read the newspaper, they get worried with the bad news of the Depression. Ruthie says they don't want their paper to be like that and Kit changes her wish to have good news. Kit knew there hadn't been much good news in a real newspaper for a long time and she recalled how her Dad explained the Depression to her. Kit was glad her Dad still had a job at a car dealership as she thought about the other kids at school whose fathers had lost their jobs and either sold apples on the street corner or moved away because they couldn't afford the rent. Kit's Dad said that the Depression was like a terrible slippery hole that once you fell in, was almost impossible to get out. Kit knew the Depression was getting worse from the newspaper headlines. but within Kit's house, nothing seemed worthy of a headline.
The girls were about to give up on finding any more news when Charlie popped his head through the door. He warned them to go downstairs if they wanted to eat as Mother's Garden Club arrived. Ruthie comments that maybe there would be some cake for them and Kit adds that maybe there would be some news for them. Kit grabs her notepad and pencil and the two thundered down the stairs. They slowed down in the hallway so they wouldn't, as Mother always said, sound like a herd of stampeding elephants. Mother always liked things 'just so' when the garden club ladies arrived and she would bring out her finest dishes for the moment. Kit and Ruthie step on the terrace and Kit has an urge to her her Mother, though she held back due to her ink-stained hands. Mother greets the girls to the club and offers them some refreshments. Kit and Ruthie filled their plates and retreated behind a potted plant to eat as they observed the ladies. The women first talked about gardening and Kit and Ruthie giggled when Mrs. Willmore said she had spots on her phlox. They discussed whose turn it was next to weed the flower bed at the hospital and Mrs. Howard says it was her turn, though she says she couldn't do it. She hesitates and blinks before announcing she wouldn't be part of the Garden Club anymore. Kit and Ruthie look at each other and raise their eyebrows. Kit thinks that there might be a story for her paper as the ladies murmured their apologies.
Mrs. Howard explains she and her son Stirling were moving to Chicago They were going to move in with Mr. Howard, who was already in Chicago to pursue a business opportunity. The ladies all say 'Ahh!' brightly, knowing what that meant. Kit knew that 'pursing a business opportunity' meant Mr. Howard was looking for a job. He hasn't had a job in two years. A woman asks where they will live in Chicago and Mrs. Howard says she doesn't know. She explains that Mr. Howard hasn't settled anywhere and they'll just be moving place to place for a while. The ladies smile and Kit notices lines of worry on their faces. Mrs. Howard's plan sounded fishy and Kit wondered why the Howards were leaving Cincinnati if they didn't have a home in Chicago. It then dawns on Kit that Mrs. Howard didn't have enough money to stay in their house anymore, and Mr. Howard didn't have a job or a house. Kit was sure this was the truth, and she was sure the ladies knew as well but weren't saying anything out loud out of politeness.
There was an awkward silence before Mother gets an idea and tells Mrs. Howard she and Stirling could stay in her guest room until Mr. Howard finds a home and sends for them. She adds that Stirling was Kit's age, and the two would get along great. Ruthie nudged Kit, but she signaled for Ruthie to keep quiet. The ladies turn to Mrs Howard and anxiously waited for her reply. Mrs. Howard accepts Mother's offer slowly and thanks her. The ladies begin to cheer up as Kit scribbled notes in her notepad Ruthie asked who Stirling was. Kit Shrugs and says he hasn't met him, though he was probably Mrs. Howard's son. Ruthie says Kit will meet him soon as he was going to live in her house.
Kit liked the idea of a boy staying at her house. Boys were always up to something, and he was sure to be a good source of newspaper stories. It would also be nice to have someone to play catch with and talk about the Cincinnati Reds with as Charlie would leave for college soon and Ruthie didn't care about baseball. He could also join in when she and Ruthie would act out stories they read, and Kit comments he could be Sheriff or Nottingham when they played Robin Hood as boys loved being the bad guy. Ruthie smiles as she suggests that Stirling may rather be Prince Charming and perform good deeds. Kit comments he already did a good deed and the two run back to Kit's room. Kit explains that Stirling had given them a headline as she shows Ruthie the words 'The Howards Are Coming!'
Chapter Two: Read All About ItKit was not a flouncy girl. That's why she preferred her nickname 'Kit' over her real name 'Margaret Mildred'. Kit was especially exasperated with flounces at the moment as she tried to get comfortable sitting on her too soft, too low stool. Kit continued writing her paper after the Garden Club Ladies and Ruthie had left. She pulled out her paper from the typewriter, still very pleased to have an attention-grabbing headline for her Dad. She reads what she had written: The Howards were going to stay with the Kittredges for a while, it was going to be fun because Stirling could play catch with Kit, and the Garden Club Trouble: Phlox spots put Mrs. Willmore beside herself.
Kit struggled with her two stick figure drawings of Mrs. Willmore to put in the paper when she heard her Dad's car honking. Kit snatched up her paper, flew downstairs, and burst out the door. She shouted "Extra! Extra! Read all about it!" as she ran into her Dad's arms. After their hug, Kit shows her newspaper. Her Dad smiles a broad smile as he exchanged a real newspaper for Kit's. He then read out loud 'The Howards are Coming!'in a booming voice. He asks Kit if they were coming for dinner. Kit tells her Dad to read the whole story and to her surprise, her Dad's smile faded as he read. Dad tells Kit her story was big news in a voice that was trying too hard to be hearty. He says he was lucky to have his own personal reporter to keep him up-to-date with the news and tells Kit to come with him to get all the details from Mother. Kit thinks how grownups are funny as she walked along with her Dad. They don't react the way one expects them to. Kit got the impression that her Dad wasn't pleased with the Howards staying, but why would he be?
Two days later, Kit and Ruthie were sitting on the front porch, reading as they waited for Stirling and Mrs. Howard to arrive. Or at least Ruthie read; Kit was too distracted so she studied the illustrations in her Robin Hood book. Kit's copy of Robin Hood had belonged to Charlie and Kit loved reading about the tree houses Robin and his men lived in. Kit longed to sleep in a tree house near the sky, and she had spent many hours drawing plans for tree houses she and Ruthie could build. But Kit wasn't a good sketcher, and her tree houses always ended up looking like dog houses stuck up in a tree. Kit comments that Stirling could help build their tree house and Ruthie agrees, slightly irritated Kit interrupted her reading.
It was a hot day and the girls were licking chunks of ice shipped off from the block of ice in the ice box. Kit had her catcher's mitt next to her, wanting to show Stirling right away that she was the type of girl interested in baseball and books, not baking and dresses. Kit's ice chunk was a sliver when a cab pulled up into the driveway. Kit and Ruthie stood up on the porch and waited politely. Mrs. Howard left the cab along with her son. When Kit saw Stirling, she felt like someone had dropped some ice down her back, she was that surprised. Ruthie whispers that she thought Kit's Mother said Stirling was their age, but he looked like he was in Kindergarten. Mother stepped onto the porch and Kit whispers indignantly to her that Stirling was a shrimp. Mother explains that Stirling was small for his age because he had delicate health, but she was sure he would be a pleasant fellow. She tells the two they'd better go and make the guests fell welcome and the three walk down to the driveway.
Mrs. Howard and the cab driver were taking out the luggage as Stirling just stood there. Mrs. Howard thanks Mother for keeping them when she sees her and she tells Stirling to say hello. Stirling shook hands with Mother and nodded at the girls. Kit thought he looked even worse close up. He had colorless hair and eyes, a red runny nose, and the two girls towered over him. Mrs. Howard fusses that all of this excitement wasn't good for Stirling, and he had to lie down right away and rest. Kit and Ruthie watch Mrs. Howard and Mother propel Stirling into the house as the cab driver followed with an armload of luggage. As soon as they were gone, Kit imitated Stirling by snuffling her nose and making her eyes wide and unblinking. Ruthie giggles but then says that in fairy tales you always learn not to judge by appearances as lots of times nice people are just under a spell. But over the next few days, Ruthie's theory didn't work for Stirling. He never said a word as Mrs. Howard did all the talking, and her sentences usually begun with "Stirling can't." When Kit invited Stirling to do something, Mrs. Howard would always say that Stirling couldn't because of his health. Kit and Ruthie soon gave up on inviting Stirling because the answer was always "Stirling can't."
Kit first thought Mrs. Howard was lying about Stirling's fragile health as Stirling didn't have any serious or interesting illness like the ones Kit read in her pirate books. But after a week, Stirling got truly sick. He only had a cold, but he had a terrible cough and a fever. Mrs. Howard said he had to stay in bed and have his meals brought to him on a tray. Kit could hear Stirling sniffling and coughing and blowing his nose all day. Everyone had to tiptoe past the guest room so they wouldn't disturb Stirling if he was napping. Whenever Kit passed by the guest room, she held her nose as the room smelt strongly of Vicks VapoRub.
One day, Kit noticed that the guest room's door was open, and Kit snuck a look inside. Stirling was sitting up in his bed, propped up by his pillows. Mrs. Howard was gone and the window shades were pulled down. Kit comments it was stuffy in the room and asks if he wanted her to open the window. Stirling nods, and Kit opens the window a crack, letting in some air and a bit of light. Kit was about to leave the room when she noticed a photo next to Stirling's bed. Kit asks if that was a photo of Ernie Lombardi from the Reds. Stirling looked at Kit with unblinking eyes. Due to his stuffed nose, his voice sounded low and husky when he answered "Schnozz." Kit didn't understand for a second, but then laughed. She comments Schnozz was Ernie Lombardi's nickname because he had a big nose. In response, Stirling blew his nose and made a nice honking sound. Kit laughs again and tells Stirling Ernie was her favorite player on the Reds. He was her inspiration to become a catcher, as well as her Dad who was the star catcher on his college team. She asks Stirling if he knew he was the tallest player in the Reds and Stirling whispers he was six foot three, two hundred and thirty pounds. Kit, delighted that Stirling knew, rattles on that it was funny Stirling liked him because he was so tall and Stirling was so little. Stirling simply said "That's why," not sounding the least offended, even though Kit just realized she said something she shouldn't had.Kit suddenly gets inspired and tells Stirling she used to keep an article with a picture of Ernie Lombardi on her wall before her room was painted pink and Mother wouldn't let her put it back up. She asks if Stirling wanted to see it. He nods vigorously, and Kit notices his eyes weren't' colorless, they were gray. Kit dashes back to her room and rummaged through her desk. She found the article in the bottom drawer and races back to Stirling's room and shouts that she found it. Kit flung Stirling's door open, hitting Mrs. Howard who was holding a silver tray. Mrs. Howard lurched forward and the tray was sent flying as well as Mother's favorite teacup. The teacup breaks on the ground and Mrs Howard starts fussing at the mess. At the same time, Stirling started to cough loudly. Kit tried to apologize louder than Stirling's couching, and Charlie came in and added to the commotion as he asked what happened. They were all talking at once when Mother came in an asked what happened. Everyone stopped talking and Mother repeats her question, not sounding like her serene self. Everyone looked at Kit. Kit knew her Mother didn't like messes, so she tried to explain how it was an accident and she didn't know Mrs. Howard was behind the door. mother held up her hand to stop Kit, saying she could imagine the rest. She shakes her head as she reminds Kit she had to slow down and watch where she was going. Kit apologizes. Mother picked up the pieces of the broken cup and tells her to look at what she did. Kit was shocked, it wasn't like Mother to scold her like this. Kit protests it was an accident and it wasn't anyone's fault. Mother says it was nobody's fault, yet they were still stuck in this mess. She asks Kit to leave, explaining she'll help Mrs. Howard clean up. She also asks Kit not to barge into Stirling's room anymore and make a mess. Kit tries to protest, but Mother repeats her request for Kit to leave. Kit gives up and storms back to her room.
Kit was angry Mother thought it was all Kit's fault when it wasn't. She didn't mean to knock into Mrs. Howard. Kit felt it was more of Stirling's fault than hers. If he wasn't sick, his mother wouldn't be bringing him hot tea in the afternoon. Kit flings herself and looks at the crumpled article in her hands. She didn't care it was crumpled as she couldn't put it up on her new pink walls, and she sure wasn't going to show Stirling it. Kit decides that she wasn't going to try to be nice to 'old sniffle-nose' Stirling if it brought her this much trouble. Nothing made Kit more angry than being unjustly accused, and she thought how if characters in books were unjustly accused, people like Nancy Drew or Dick Tracy would come around and help. But in this case, Kit knew she would have to speak for herself and she decides to make a special newspaper for her Dad. that way, at least one person would know her side of the story. Kit rolls a piece of paper into the typewriter and types in capital letters 'IT'S NOT FAIR!'
Chapter Three: It's Not Fair
Kit started to feel better as she pounded the typewriter keys as hard as she could. The good thing about writing was that she got to tell the story without anyone interrupting or contradicting her. When she was done, Kit was pleased with her article. At the end, she wrote that if something bad happened at it wasn't anyone's fault, no one should be blamed.Kit pulled out her article and waited outside on the steps for her father to come home. She had brought a book about Robin Hood to read as she waited. She had not read much when she heard the screen door behind her open and close. Kit kept on reading, but heard Charlie say hi as he sat next to her. Kit didn't answer him, feeling a little put out with him for adding to the trouble in Stirling's room. Charlie asks Kit what was eating her and Kit huffily replies "Nothing." Charlie picks up Kit's article and reads out the headline. He asks what it was about and Kit tells him it was about what happened earlier. Charlie tells her she shouldn't make a big deal out of it, but Kit tells him that was easy for him to say. Charlie took a deep breath and in a suddenly serious tone, he tells Kit she shouldn't bother Dad with her newspaper today.
Kit slams her book shut and asks why not. Charlie looked over his shoulder, making sure no one except Kit could hear him. He asks Kit if she knew how lots of people lost their job due to the Depression and Kit says yes, citing Mr. Howard as an example. Charlie then explains that yesterday Dad told him and Mother that he was closing down the car dealership and going out of business. Kit was horrified as she asked why. Charlie says "What do you think?" as he explains nobody had the money to buy a car for a long time now. Kit asks why Dad didn't say anything about this before. Charlie explains he didn't want them, the family, to worry and he hoped that things would improve if he just hung on. He didn't even fire any of his salesmen, paying their salaries with his own savings. Kit asks what he was going to do now and Carlie admits he didn't know. Dad would even have to return his car as he couldn't afford it. Charlie guesses that their Dad would just have to look for a new job, despite it being hopeless these days. Kit, feeling so sure that Charlie was wrong, tell shim that plenty of people would be happy to hire him, either remembering him from college or seeing how smart and hard working he was. Charlie shrugs and explains that there simply wasn't any jobs to be had, hence why people were going away.
Struck by a terrible thought, Kit asks if Dad would have to leave like Mr. Howard. After having another terrible thought, Kit asks if they would lose their house like the Howards did. Charlie says he didn't know and Kit struggled to breathe. Charlie explains that it would be a struggle to keep the house as their parents still had to pay the mortgage for it. If they didn't pay it, then the bank would literally throw them and their belongings out of the house. Kit fiercely states that won't happen and Charlie says he hopes not. Kit asks why Dad told other and him about the job, but not her. Charlie sighs a huge, sad sigh and explains Dad told him because it meant he wouldn't be able to go to college. Kit, knowing just how much Charlie had been looking forward to college, says "That's terrible! That's awful! It's not fair." Charlie grins a cheerless grin as he points out that was her headline. Charlie tells her that a lot of unfair things happened lately, and there was no one to blame and nothing they could do about it. Charlie sounded tired, as if he grew old all of a sudden. He tells Kit that life wasn't like books with a clear good and bad guy, and sometimes there was no happily ever after. Kit felt an odd combination of fear and anger. Things were happening so fast! Kit asks what was going to happen to them and Charlie says he didn't know.
He stood up to go, but Kit asks him to wait. She asks why he told her about Dad. She asks if he told her so she wouldn't give the paper to Dad, but Charlie tells her she was a part of the family and she deserved to know. Kit thanks Charlie, grateful he treated her like an adult. After Charlie left, Kit sat on the step thinking. She realized why her Dad was upset when he heard the Howards were coming; he had more mouths to feed. Kit also understood why her Mother was so short-tempered today she must have been thinking about the situation they were in. It wasn't their fault they fell into the hold of the Depression, but yet they had.
As the sun started to set, Kit saw her Dad like she never saw him before. He looked hot and tired, and now he had a discouraged droop in his shoulders. kit's hear twisted with sorrow and for a second, she didn't want to ace her Dad. If she did, then she would have to face the news Charlie told her. but then Kit decided that while everything in the whole world might change for her Dad, she wouldn't. Kit ran straight for her Dad and hugged him like always. After the hug, Kit tells him Charlie told her and asks if it was true. Mr. Kittredge knelt down so he could look at Kit at eye level and tells her it was true. She asks if they were going to be alright, and he admits he didn't know. Kit hugged her Dad again, crumpling her article behind his back. Kit's article seemed silly and babyish now. Her Dad didn't need to read it; he already knew all about things that weren't fair.Kit was practical. She considered worrying about a problem a waste of time when she could do something to fix it. But Kit and her family had never had a problem so serious before. Unable to go to sleep due to her worrying, Kit decided to write. She walked to her desk and pulled out a pencil and notepad. Kit then wrote a list of what she could give up to save her family money. She wries 'no dancing lessons, no fancy dresses for dancing lessons,' then scolds herself. She didn't mind giving up the things she wanted, but Kit knew she had to add the things she did want as well. Sadly, Kit added 'no lumber for a tree house, no new books, no tickets to baseball games, no sweets' to her list. Kit decided to show her Dad the list but the next morning, Dad had already left. Mother told Kit he had left to meet a business friend and Kit comments it would be great if he was offered a job. Mother said it would as she smiles, but Kit could tell it wasn't one of her real smiles.
Kit felt restless and jumpy and she wanted to be alone so she could work on her list. Kit, after wandering around the yard, found a good hideaway under the back porch. Kit thought that no one would find her there, but Kit had not been hidden long before Ruthie crawled in. Kit asks how she always found her and Ruthie shrugs, saying she just thinks where she would be if she was Kit. She asks Kit why she was hiding and Kit simply says her Dad lost his job. Ruthie softly apologizes and the two sit together in silence. That's what Kit liked about Ruthie: she would sit and think with Kit. She didn't need to talk all the time. Ruthie breaks the silence as she asks Kit was she was going to do. Kit shows her the list she made and Ruthie reads through it. She mentioned her ideas were good, but she sounded doubtful. Kit sighed. She admits that she never gave money much thought before and Ruthie says she hasn't either. Kit tells Ruthie that her Dad had used most of his savings to pay his salesmen, and soon there wouldn't be any money left. She asks what they will do then and Ruthie comments she read lots of books about people who lived with no money. Kit points out those characters lived in a farm or a forest where at least they had a source of food while she lived in a modern city. Kit wonders if they will move to a farm, but Ruthie doubted Mrs. Kittredge would like the idea. Kit agrees with her, adding that her family knew nothing about farming. Ruthie says she thinks they were just going to have to hope her Dad gets a new job. Kit agrees, then turns to Ruthie as she comments that would be a great headline.
Chapter Four: Mother's Brainstorm
Kit's Dad did not find a job that day, or any other day after that, despite his efforts. Everyday he would put on a good suit and ride downtown with the intent to have lunch with a friend or a business acquaintance. Everyday Kit hoped her Dad would bring good news but he always came back home tired and discouraged. One afternoon after a week had passed, Kit and Mother were shelling peas on the back porch when a black car pulled up in the driveway. Mother sighs "Oh no," and Kit asks if it was Uncle Hendrick. Mother nods and tells Kit to put the peas inside the kitchen and get some ice tea for them. Mother then smoothed her hair, adjusted her smile, and walked gracefully to the car. Kit was glad to escape to the house. Uncle Hendrick was Mother's uncle and her oldest relative, and he was always in a bad mood. Kit thinks that the last thing her Uncle needed was a lemon as she puts lemon slices in the glasses, as he was already a sourpuss.
Kit carried the iced tea to the terrace where Mother was in a chair and Uncle Hendrick was pacing back and forth. Uncle Hendrick stops when he sees Kit and Kit thinks "Here it comes." He barks at her "What's the capital of North Dakota?" Kit answers Bismarck, used to such questions from her Uncle. He asked about capitals, multiplication, and worse of all, word problems. He asks her "I have two bushels of Brussels sprouts I'm selling for five cents a peck. How much do you pay me?" Kit, who always mixed up bushels and pecks, guesses fifty cents. Uncle Hendrick tells her she was wrong and tells her she may go. Mother gave Kit a sympathetic smile, but Kit felt sorrier for Mother.
Kit went back inside but stayed in the dining room where she could hear the two talk. Uncle Hendrick sighs that he warned them it would be a bad idea to throw all of their money into the car dealership. He says that if they had listened, they wouldn't be in this mess, and he states he won't help them as he doesn't want to throw good money after bad. Mother assures her Uncle they'll be fine, sure that Mr. Kittedge would fin a job soon. Uncle Hendrick snorts and says a man like him wouldn't find a job, especially during these hard times. Kit realized her fists were clenched as she felt the urge to punch Uncle Hendrick. She hated it when Uncle Hendrick talked poorly about her Dad, but other didn't say anything. Uncle Hendrick asks Mother what they will do in the meantime. He suggests they sell their home, though he doubted anyone would buy it. He tells her the house was a foolish extravagant buy and they must owe the bank thousands of dollars. Mother responds this was their house and they would do anything to keep it. Uncle Hendrick asks how they will keep it, but Mother doesn't reply.
He starts to act smug,saying there was nothing they could do to keep the house. Mother slowly says they could take in boarders, and Kit felt as surprised as Uncle Hendrick sounded. Mother goes on and says they could take in nurses and teachers, and Kit admires her Mother's words. Uncle Hendrick, having heard enough, tells Mrs. Kittredge that if his sister, Mrs. Kittredge's own mother, could see her today, it would break her heart. He then strode back to his car and drove away. Kit walked onto the terrace and asks her Mother if they were really going to take in boarders. Mother smiles one of her real smiles and admits she surprised herself by saying that. She only intended to shock Uncle Hendrick, but she did like her idea very much. Kit asks how Dad was going to respond and Mrs. Kittrdge says that was a good question.
Kit wasn't sure if she liked her Mother's idea, not excited at the idea of sharing her house with strangers after Stirling had ended badly for her. Kit could tell her Dad wasn't crazy about it either. At the dinner table, whom Mrs. Howard and Stirling were absent from, Mother explained their house had lots of rooms that could be put to use. Dad explained he felt the idea was necessary as he was making an effort to find a job, but Mother interrupts him and says this would be a way to earn money in the meantime. He sighs he hated the idea of Mother waiting on other people in her own home, but Mother says the whole family would chip in and help, stating it as if the boarders idea was settled. Kit wasn't surprised; it was hard to dissuade her Mother when she made up her mind. Kit asks where the boarders would stay and Mother explains Charlie could move to the sleeping porch and have someone in his room. Charlie shrugs and says he was all right with the plan, and Mother thanks him. She then explains her plan to find two teachers or nurses to share the guest room. Kit perks up and asks if that meant Stirling and his mother would be leaving. Mother explains they would stay as paying guests and Kit asks where they would stay. Mother calmly says they will stay in Kit's room and Kit is shocked. Mother explains they need the Howards if they want to pay the mortgage, and she already calculated i all out. Kit asks where she would sleep and Mother says she thought of moving Kit to the attic where there was plenty of room. Kit was angry that she was going to exiled to the attic while Stirling moved into her room. In her head, Kit envisioned her headline 'It's Not Fair!'
The next day, Kit and Ruthie were inspecting the attic, which smelt of moth balls and had windows so dusty the sun couldn't get through. Ruthie points out that Kit didn't even like her old room that much as it was too pink and asks why she was so mad about moving out of it. Kit answers she was mad because it was hers, well aware she sounded peevish. The fact that Ruthie was right only made Kit more angry. Kit says that room had belonged to her since she was a baby, and was upset Stirling was going to have it Kit asks why Stirling didn't have to move up t o the attic and Ruthie calmly guesses that it was because his mother paid the rent now. Ruthie looks around and says the attic didn't look so bad. It reminded her of the room Sara Crewe had to move into after she lost all of her money in 'The Little Princess'. Kit, feeling impatient with Ruthie's princesses, says that Sara Crewe's room was made beautiful by a practically magical Indian guy. Ruthie says that Mrs. Kittredge was also practically magic and could help improve Kit's new room. Kit tells Ruthie she was sure her Mother would help her, but she was wrong. That afternoon, as Kit helped Mother make the beds, she asked how they were going to fix up the attic. Mother tells Kit she wouldn't be able to help as she carried the sheets for Stirling's cot in Kit's room. She explains that she was too busy preparing for the boarders and suggests that after helping her out it could poke around up in the attic and see what she could find. Kit was hurt by her Mother's distracted manner; she had paid so much attention to Kit's pink room, but didn't seem to give a hoot about Kit's attic.Afterwards, Kit slowly climbed the attic stairs and looked around the dusty, lumpy piles. Kit noticed her old desk and chair hidden under a bumpy mattress, along with some boxes. Kit knelt by one of the boxes and thinks how if this were a book, she would find something wonderful. But Kit only found junk in the box: a broken camera, a pair of binoculars, a compass that must have belonged to her Dad in the war, a goose neck lamp, and an old-fashioned telephone. Kit thinks they're old and useless as she takes out her Dad's compass and hangs it around her neck. Kit sank to the floor, overwhelmed by sadness. When Kit wished for a change that would make a dramatic headline, Kit never imagined getting so many terrible changes. Her Dad lost his job, Kit lost her room, and in a way, they were going to lose their house as it would be filled with strangers and nothing would ever be the same.
Kit almost never cried, but she was fighting back tears when Stirling's head popped up from the stairs. Kit asks what he was doing out of bed as she roughly brushed away her tears. She could tell he knew she was crying, but Stirling only said he was bringing up Kit's stuff from her room. As he hands Kit a box, Kit notices the smoothed-out article about Ernie Lombardi on top of it. Kit thanks him and Stirling also gives a Kit a tack for her article. He looks around the attic and comments she could put up her article anywhere where wanted to before leaving. After Stirling left, Kit looked at the article and felt oddly cheered by the photograph. She figured that Stirling was right. She could put anything anywhere she wanted to in the attic. Kit looked around the long narrow attic. There were regular windows at both ends of the room, and there were dormer windows along the alcoves. Kit opened one of the windows, knelt down, stuck her head out and came face to face with a tree branch. Kit got a funny, excited feeling as she suddenly knew exactly what she wanted to do.
Over the next few days, Kit was glad no on e seemed to care what she was doing in the attic. After helping Mother with chores, Kit would go to the attic where she cleaned the windows swept the floor, and moved junk to the other half of the attic. After the cleaning was done, Kit got to the fun part. In one alcove Kit put her old desk and chair, along with the goose neck lamp, telephone, broken camera, and her typewriter to make a newspaper office alcove. In another alcove Kit tacked up her Ernie Lombardi article and hung up her baseball glove and binoculars figuring they would be handy if she ever went to a Red's game. That was her baseball alcove. Kit made bookshelves out of old boards and arranged her books on them in the third alcove and shoved an old chair that was losing its stuffing over there to make her reading alcove. The last alcove was Kit's favorite as she put the mattress on an old bed frame and pushed it into the alcove with a pillow next to the window. She then surrounded the bed with some of Mother's potted plants. This was her tree house alcove.
On the first night Kit slept in her tree house alcove, Mother came up to say good night. As she sat on Kit's bed and surveyed the room Kit looked at her Mother's expression. She knew this room was a far cry from Mother's idea of a girl's room. Mother comments there was a place for every interest and she was proud that Kit worked hard to make the attic her room. Kit thanks her, and Mother apologizes for not having the time to help her, but Kit says it was okay. Mother picks up the book Kit was reading and asks if she was still reading Robin Hood. Kit says yes, admitting it was Robin Hood that inspired her to make a tree house alcove. Kit also had plans to make a swinging bridge that connected from the window to the nearby tree, but she didn't tell Mother as it would be a secret escape. Mother comments that 'good old Robin Hood' stole from the rich to give to the poor and Kit comments it was a shame there wasn't a modern Robin hood. If he stole from the rich to give to the poor, it would make the Depression better. Mother says it would help, but wouldn't end the Depression. Kit asks what will end it and Mother figures a lot of things would be necessary. People would have to work hard, use what they have, face challenges, and stay hopeful. Mother looks around Kit's attic and smiles as she says that people would have to do sort of like Kit had to do in her attic. They would have to make change and realize that changes can be good. Mother kisses Kit good night, telling her not to read too late, and leaves. Kit looked out the window to see the tree branches against the starry night sky as she thinks that 'Changes Can Be Good' sounded like a headline to her.
Looking Back: America in 1934
Discusses America before and during the Great Depression. Topics covered:
- Ways Americans were affected by the Depression, with businesses having to close and people who couldn't pay their rent or buy food.
- Creative ideas people used to cope with the hard times, and families who moved in with other families to save money.
- The severity of the Great Depression used to compare with past financial crises, with the Depression's causes being built up in years in advance.
- The prosperity America had during the 1920s, with many people turning to the stock market to support business growth by buying stock.
- Investors that used credit in hopes of repaying their debt later on, and the various debts people collected with buying everyday things on credit.
- Lack of business growth due to the lack of consumers, forcing many companies to close and the value of stock to plummet dramatically.
- The Wall Street Crash of 1929, a day commonly known as Black Tuesday, and it's affects on those who invested in the stock market.
- People who had lost all of their money after the stock market crash, forcing many to rely on charities and neighbors for survival.
- Lack of leadership and government help the Hoover administration gave due to their belief that the Depression would end if business was left alone.
- The International Apple Shippers Association's plan to help the unemployed by selling them apples and a crate for them to sell on the streets.
- Ways people tried to forget their troubles, such as listening to popular shows on the radio or visiting movie theaters to escape reality.
- Americans who were desperate for change and believed that president Franklin Delano Roosevelt would lead them out of the Depression.