Little Britches was recommended to me by three close friends, and it didn’t even take an entire chapter to understand its appeal.

This autobiography by Ralph Moody is a coming-of-age story that shares how his experience as an eight-year-old boy on a Colorado ranch in the early 1900s turns him into a man.

It is refreshing to read a secular story that portrays boyhood in its natural light, honours the place of a good father in the home, and distinguishes between men and women in a way that is neither chauvinistic, nor patriarchal (different roles, equal value).

Little Britches has been referred to as “Little House on the Prairie for Boys,” and I’d say that’s a pretty accurate description. Both stories are set in similar places and time periods, and both are filled with the extreme adventures of pioneer living, life lessons learned in the context of a loving family, a lot of hard work, trials, and setbacks that help shape the characters of each individual in the book.

I found Little Britches to be funnier than the Little House Books, as Ralph discloses one hilarious mishap after another, often brought on by his desire to be seen as a hardworking, honest man like his Dad, whom he deeply admires and respects.

It is through his father’s quiet but wise instruction that Ralph is equipped to become “man of the family” at 11 years old when tragedy strikes near the end of the book.

This is a story of endurance, perseverance, ingenuity, and hope. It’ll make you laugh and cry, and one would be hard pressed to find a person, young or old, who could not find enjoyment in Ralph’s wonderfully told experience of ranching in the early 20th century.

Unfortunately, there are several instances of regrettable “cowboy language” in this book. It would have my whole-hearted recommendation if it weren’t for that. As a read aloud, you have the ability to edit out profanities as they arise, which is what Brad is currently doing.

Still, I think Little Britches is a “keeper,” not a “borrower.”