Shaking the Nickel Bush
post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: Shaking the Nickel Bush
Author: Ralph Moody
Series: Little Britches Book 6
Major Themes: Artists, Sculpture, Arizona, Family Read-Alouds, Memoirs, US History 1900-1950, Books for Boys
Synopsis: After a diagnosis of diabetes, Ralph needed a warm climate and sunshine—but he also needed to make a living for himself.
It’s a lot of fun to read the Little Britches series aloud again! I really like these stories, even though I know what happens next. Ralph Moody did a superb job of recounting the stories of his younger years. One of my older boys remembered Shaking the Nickel Bush in great detail, even though it has been ten years since we last read it, but he was very much interested in hearing from his little brothers about the story each day, anyway.
Just after World War I ended, Ralph was diagnosed with diabetes. In 1918, there was no cure for the disease, and he was given six months to live. His family doctor, however, told him that if he went to the West again to work, got as much sunshine as possible, and ate the right diet, he would have no problems. So, off he went to Arizona to find work as a cowhand. However, as soon as a prospective employer learned that he hadn’t been in the service, there was no chance of a job. What was he to do?
After a stint at doing horse falls for a movie producer, Ralph was beaten up pretty badly—but had enough money to live awhile, anyway. He and his new buddy, Lonnie, decided to buy a flivver and go through the back country to find a job. What an adventure that turned out to be—and not just the traveling around! Just getting Shiftless, the flivver, driveable so they could go had my mechanic son looking aghast. Then there was the day they roped a cow from the car, and the day the half-moon key sheared on the side of a mountain….
You’ll have to read the book yourself to know what Ralph finally hit on (one clue: sculpture) to make his fortune…and what happened to the fortune! Shaking the Nickel Bush isn’t my favorite book in the series, but it’s a great story of a young man using his ingenuity to make his way in the world—and doing well at it, while taking care of someone who needed taking care of, in the process. You’ll be shaking your head in disbelief, and laughing, all the way through the book.
WARNING: Lonnie’s favorite expression was Jeepers Creepers. This appears in most chapters, sometimes several times on a page. Chapter 2: Lonnie cussed twice, and stole a chicken. Chapter 4: where the devil you been. Chapter 6: shot to the devil. Chapter 7: shot to the dickens, daggone, mad as the dickens. Chapter 8: this daggone sand, dang near brained me. Chapter 10: pretty dang sure, a durned good one. Chapter 12: what the devil is it. Chapter 14: doggoned. Chapter 16: that durned plaster face
Read Aloud—Ages 5 – 8, 8 – 12, 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above, Adults
Links to buy this book:
Keywords: Artists, Sculpture, Arizona, Family Read-Alouds, Memoirs, US History 1900-1950, Books for Boys