What Katy Did
- What Katy Did is a children's book written by Susan Coolidge, the pen name of Sarah Chauncey Woolsey, which was published in 1872. It follows the adventures of a twelve-year-old American girl, Katy Carr, and her family who live in the fictional lakeside Ohio town of Burnet in the 1860s. Katy is a tall untidy tomboy, forever getting into scrapes but wishing to be beautiful and beloved. When a terrible accident makes her an invalid, her illness and four-year recovery gradually teach her to be as good and kind as she has always wanted. Two sequels follow Katy as she grows up - What Katy Did at School and What Katy Did Next. Two further sequels relate the adventures of Katy's younger siblings, Clover and In the High Valley. Twelve-year-old Katy Carr lives with her widowed father and her five brothers and sisters in a small midwestern town called Burnet. Her father, a doctor, is very busy and works long hours. The children are mostly cared for by their paternal Aunt Izzie, who is very particular, and something of a scold. Under these circumstances Katy, a bright, headstrong, hasty girl, can hardly avoid getting into mischief almost daily; however, she is unfailingly remorseful afterward. She dreams of someday doing something "grand" with her life - painting famous pictures, saving the lives of drowning people or leading a crusade on a white horse. At the same time, she wants to be "beautiful, of course, and good if I can". When her mother died four years earlier, Katy promised to be a little mother to her siblings; however, she leads them into all sorts of exciting adventures and is sometimes impatient and cross with them. When her Cousin Helen, an invalid, comes to visit, Katy is so enchanted by her beauty and kindness that on the day of Helen's departure she resolves to model herself on Helen ever afterward. The very next day, however, Katy wakes in an ill humor, quarrels with her aunt and pushes her little sister so hard that she falls down half a dozen steps. Afterwards, sulky and miserable, Katy decides to try out the new swing in the woodshed although Aunt Izzie has, for some reason, forbidden it. The swing is unsafe because one of the staples supporting it is cracked. Had Aunt Izzie explained this, "all would have been right," but she believes that children should obey their elders without question. Katy swings as high as she can and, as she tries to graze the roof with her toes, the staple gives way. She falls hard, bruising her spine. The lively Katy is now bedridden, suffering terrible pain and bitterness. Her room is dark, dreary and cluttered with medicine bottles; when her brothers and sisters try to comfort her, she usually drives them away. However, a visit from Cousin Helen shows her that she must either learn to make the best of her situation or risk losing the love of her family. Helen tells Katy that she is now a student in the "School of Pain" where she will learn lessons in patience, cheerfulness, hopefulness, neatness and making the best of things. With Cousin Helen's help she makes her room tidy and nice to visit and gradually all the children gravitate to it, always coming in to see Katy whenever they can. She becomes the heart of the home, beloved by her family for her unfailing kindness and good cheer. After two years Aunt Izzie dies and Katy takes over the running of the household. At the end of four years, in a chapter called "At Last", she learns to walk again.