Through the Looking Glass Children's Book Reviews

What Katy Did Next

What Katy Did Next

Susan Coolidge
For ages 9 to 12
Virago, 2018   ISBN: 978-0349009636

Katy Carr is full of good intentions. She means to help take care of her sisters and her brother, and she means to “set a good example” for them. And yet, all too often Katy forgets her many grand resolutions. With a flurry of skirts and with her long brown hair in a mess, Katy is soon off making up and playing all kinds of wild games, tearing her dresses, making holes in her stockings, and getting into all kinds of scrapes. Try as she might she cannot seem to stay out of trouble.

One day Katy wakes up in a cross mood. Nothing seems to go right, and when Katy’s grumpy and stiff Aunt Izzie tells the children that they cannot use the new swing yet, Katy chooses to ignore her aunt’s words. Katy is sure that Aunt Izzie is saying this just to spoil her fun, and she is determined to try the swing for herself. Perhaps a good swing will blow away her bad and fretful temper.

Alas for Katy. The swing truly is not ready to be used and just as she is swinging at the highest possible point, the swing breaks and Katy falls to the earth. When she comes to, Katy discovers that she has injured herself very badly indeed. If only she had listened to Aunt Izzie; if only she had not been so reckless.

What follows are many months of misery and pain. Katy has hurt her back in some way and she is not going to be able to walk for a long time. Indeed her recovery may take years. For bright and active Katy this state of affairs is heartbreaking and she gives herself up to despair. Then, just when she needs it most, Katy gets some help and she begins to learn some very valuable truths that help her find her way to back.

This wonderful story is now a classic, and though it could be said to be old-fashioned in some ways, it is still a joy to read. Many young girls will recognize that they are rather like Katy - well meaning, impetuous, and full of dreams and ideas. Readers will find that the story that Katy’s Papa tells her about “For the want of a nail the battle was lost” is just as relevant today as it was when the book was first published.

Wonderfully rich descriptions of places, events, and colorful characters contribute to making this a book that readers will want to read again and again