They Loved to Laugh
post written by Emma Filbrun
Title: They Loved to Laugh
Author: Kathryn Worth
Major Themes: Quaker, Silkworms, Historical Fiction, Family Life
Synopsis: After her parents died, Martitia was taken to live with a family which included five practical jokers of boys.
A couple of years ago, my teenage son read They Loved to Laugh for his high school literature course. This year, when it was his turn once to choose a read-aloud, he chose it! He wanted to hear it read (I think I’ve created a family who want their stories out loud, with all the reading aloud I do!) and he wanted his brothers to hear it. Obviously, this was a winner.
Martitia had no idea what she was getting into when Doctor David took her home with him after her parents died. On arrival at his home, he suddenly pulled her down into the bottom of the buggy as apples started flying through the air at them—his five teenage sons were pelting them, just as he had predicted! Martitia, not being used to boys at all, was terrified, especially because she became the butt of their practical jokes (like the time they were all poisoned by her fresh-baked bread!). The Feast of the Dog was the worst, though.
As time went on, Martitia gradually grew to like the boys more and more, although she still struggled with their strait-laced sister whose favorite saying was, “Every tub ought to stand on its own bottom.” Her favorite member of the family was Grandfather Daniel, who, with Doctor David’s wife, held to the old Quaker beliefs the strongest of the family. Before long, Martitia felt such love from a few members of the family that she was horrified at the thought of being made to leave and go live with her mother’s family. Would Doctor David win the lawsuit to keep her with them, or would she have to go?
They Loved to Laugh is a wonderful book about family and friendship and love. It is an interesting glimpse into Quaker beliefs in the 1830s, as well as farm life at that time. Martitia learned about raising sheep and weaving cloth, baking bread and putting away ice for the winter, and raised silkworms to help the family out of a tight spot. But—what would it take for her to learn to laugh like the boys did? We loved this gentle story, and I would guess that most children would.
WARNING: In chapter 13, Eunice (the mother) tells her husband that he is thinking a swear word.
Read Aloud—Ages 10 – 13, Family Read Alouds
Reading Independently—Ages 12 – 15, 15 and Above
Keywords: Quaker, Silkworms, Family Read-Alouds, Historical Fiction, Family Life, US History 1783-1860, North Carolina