Meet Kit

Published in 2000; author Valerie Tripp; illustrators Walter Raine and Susan McAliley


It's 1932 (although the cover of the book says 1934). Nine-year-old Margaret Mildred "Kit" Kittredge is an aspiring reporter living in Cincinnati, OH, with her parents and older brother Charlie. Her father has been fortunate enough to keep his job at a car dealership despite the Great Depression's toll on the country putting so many people out of work and out on the streets. For example, a neighbor hasn't been able to find a job for two years, but his wife says he's finally had success in Chicago, and that she and their son will join him even though he doesn't have a place to stay yet. Kit's mother correctly and discreetly guesses the truth: the family can't afford their home anymore. She suggests the mother and son--Mrs. Howard and nine-year-old Stirling--stay with the Kittredge family until Mr. Howard is settled.

Kit's excited. Her brother's going to be in college soon, and her best friend Ruthie is more into fairy tales than baseball. With Stirling around, Kit will have Ruthie for girl stuff and someone to play catch with. But when he arrives, it's clear he won't be doing much in the way of sports. He's small for his age, and sickly. Still, Kit finds a way to bond with him over his love of professional baseball. He can't play it, but he can appreciate it.

Then Kit finds out that she'll still be able to play ball with Charlie after all: their father has to shut down the car dealership, and can't afford to send Charlie to college. Kit comes up with some things she can sacrifice to save money, like supplies for the tree house she wanted to build, but she knows it won't be enough. Her mother comes up with a plan, almost by accident. Her miserly Uncle Hendrick visits and disparages what he sees as the myriad financial mistakes the family's made, and she defends their choices, saying they'll make money by taking in boarders. It's just to shut him up at first, but she likes the idea. There's no way to know how long it will take Mr. Kittredge to find work, and they need some sort of income. Kit will have to give up her room and sleep in the attic. She's upset with the unfairness of everything at first, but Stirling inspires her to make the space her own (her mother had recently re-decorated Kit's room in very nice, but very un-Kit frills and pink). Soon she's thrilled with her new space, and hopeful about her family's future in the uncertain times.

Looking Back

The Great Depression officially began with the Black Tuesday stock market crash on October 29, 1929, following a decade of lavish spending and buying on credit. People bought all sorts of things they couldn't really afford, among them stocks in various companies. They figured they'd sell the stocks when the prices went up, and make a profit they could use to pay the credit card bills. But the prices didn't go up as expected, and people started to tighten their belts. Fewer people bought goods, so companies began losing money and had to lay off employees to stay afloat. The newly-unemployed bought even fewer things. Finally, stock prices dropped dramatically, and businesses across the country went bankrupt overnight, including some banks. With no FDIC protecting invested money, people found themselves suddenly without jobs or savings accounts. Charities overflowed and were soon spread thinner than usual. The crisis peaked in 1932, when unemployment hit an all-time high. President Hoover's attempts to solve the financial mess were clearly ineffective, and Franklin Roosevelt won the presidency by a landslide that November. He created different work programs and instituted policies designed to prevent another collapse. The world economy also moved away from the gold standard, and by the latter half of the 1930s, most countries had recovered (the US hit another snag in 1937). World War II saw the end of the Depression.


This book is dedicated to "my aunt, Maxine Hansen Martin, with all my love."

Kit was the first character released after the Pleasant Company was bought by Mattel.

I've read these books once before, but I completely forgot that Kit had an older brother. I thought she was an only child.

Kit's father fought in World War I (referred to in the books, of course, as the Great War, since World War II hadn't happened yet).

Kit plays catcher, and appears to be right-handed.

My great-grandfather died in June 1930...when my great-grandmother was pregnant with their eleventh child. She took in boarders like Kit's family, and the older children helped out too (their oldest was almost 20).

This must be a first: Kit's books and Molly's books have the same president. FDR was elected four times, in 1932, 1936, 1940, and 1944 (he died in office in 1945; the twenty-second Amendment was ratified in 1951, limiting presidents to only two terms). Kit and Molly could both still be alive today, aged 91 and 80, respectively. My grandfather's alive, and he's only two years younger than Kit. Still in his home (with Grandma) with his wits about him, too. His mom lived to just shy of 103.

Other American Girls: in 2014, Kaya would turn 259, Felicity would turn 249, Caroline would turn 212, Cécile Rey and Marie-Grace would turn 171, Josefina would turn 199, Kirsten would turn 169, Addy would turn 159, Samantha would turn 119, Rebecca would turn 109, and Julie would turn 48. The oldest person in recorded history was 122 (and a half: Jeanne Calment, February 21, 1875-August 4, 1997).

The US stock market started its sharp decline in September 1929. The Black Tuesday crash made the Depression world-wide.

US unemployment peaked in 1933: twenty-five percent were without jobs. When the US entered World War II (thought to have accelerated if not been a major factor in the economic recovery), unemployment dropped below ten percent, and below five before the war ended.

Chile was hardest hit by the Great Depression. Its GDP was cut in half.

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