Book Review: Calico Bush

Calico Bush by Rachel Field
Calico Bush
by Rachel Field,  Gail Herman,  Allen Lewis (Illustrator)

5 out of 5 stars on GoodReads


In 1743, Marguerite is an indentured servant to a colonial family settling in the middle of Indian territory on the coast of Maine. Because she is French, she is scorned and ridiculed by her English employers, and is expected to work hard to tend to the children of the family. During their first winter on the small farm, Marguerite and the family struggle to survive in the harsh conditions, and face the threat of an attack from local tribes.

I was so enchanted with this book! The plot is interesting, the history is fascinating, and the characters feel wonderfully real and honest. It’s no wonder that this book won a Newbery Honor Award!
Marguerite is an excellent main character. Even though she is a simple servant girl, she has her own little dreams. She is incredibly brave and intelligent, proving her worth to her employers and winning the hearts of the children she cares for. And yet, she is quite humble and sweet.

The most heart-wrenching moments are when she is mocked for her French ways by the English people she serves. They are sometimes inclusive with her and praise her for her good deeds, but at other times, they ridicule her for having different manners and ways than they do. I have experienced this cultural difference for most of my life, feeling out of place among people from another culture. Marguerite’s experiences with culture shock felt real and true, and added a lot of depth to her story.

I loved the plot, which reminded me strongly on the Little House on the Prairie books, with hunting, fishing, building a log cabin, making maple syrup candy, spinning wool, and making quilts. For much of the book, they are just trying to survive each day, and then there are also bigger moments of action with threats from wildlife, storms, and the Indians. It definitely kept my interest through every page!

Trigger Warning: There is a scene where a baby is injured and dies. It’s heart-breaking, and might be too emotional for young readers.

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