Saturday, 31 December 2011

Ingalls Wilder, Laura "Little House Books"

Ingalls Wilder, Laura "Little House Books" 1932-1971
Little House in the Big Woods (1932)
Farmer Boy (1933)
Little House on the Prairie (1935)
On the Banks of Plum Creek (1937)
By the Shores of Silver Lake (1939)
The Long Winter (1940)
Little Town on the Prairie (1941)
These Happy Golden Years (1943)
On the Way Home (1962, published posthumously)
The First Four Years (1971)

"Laura Ingalls's story begins in 1871 in a little log cabin on the edge of the Big Woods of Wisconsin. Four-year-old Laura lives in the little house with her Pa, her Ma, her sisters Mary and Carrie, and their trusty dog, Jack.
Pioneer life is sometimes hard, since the family must grow or catch all their own food as they get ready for the cold winter. But it is also exciting as Laura and her folks celebrate Christmas with homemade toys and treats, do the spring planting, bring in the harvest, and make their first trip into town. And every night they are safe and warm in their little house, with the happy sound of Pa's fiddle sending Laura and her sisters off to sleep.
And so begins Laura Ingalls Wilder's beloved story of a pioneer girl and her family. The nine Little House books have been cherished by generations of readers as both a unique glimpse into America's frontier past and a heartwarming, unforgettable story."


What can I say about the "Little House" stories that hasn't been said already? What a wonderful story (not only) for children about how it was growing up in the pioneer years. Laura and her sisters moved around North America from one unsettled piece of land to the next. We learn what it means to really stand on your own, having to produce all the food and shelter for your family. Amazing. In her later books, Laura tells us more about her struggles of her later years but the first ones seem all so happy.

My favourites among her novels, definitely "The Long Winter" and "Farmer Boy" about her husband's childhood on a farm in New York. But they are all great. All kids should read it and if you haven't done so as a kid, you should do so now. I read them as an adult because they were not very well known in Germany when I was little and they were among the first books I read in English (besides those I had to read when in school).

From the back cover: "Little House in the Big Woods
Wolves and panthers and bears roam the deep Wisconsin woods in the late 1870's. In those same woods, Laura lives with Pa and Ma, and her sisters, Mary and Baby Carrie, in a snug little house built of logs. Pa hunts and traps. Ma makes her own cheese and butter. All night long, the wind howls lonesomely, but Pa plays the fiddle and sings, keeping the family safe and cozy.


Little House on the Prairie

Pa Ingalls decides to sell the little log house, and the family sets out for Indian country! They travel from Wisconsin to Kansas, and there, finally, Pa builds their little house on the prairie. Sometimes farm life is difficult, even dangerous, but Laura and her family are kept busy and are happy with the promise of their new life on the prairie.

Farmer Boy

While Laura Ingalls grows up in a little house on the western prairie, Almanzo Wilder is living on a big farm in New York State. Almanzo and his brother and sisters work at their chores from dawn to supper most days -- no matter what the weather. There is still time for fun, though, especially with the horses, which Almanzo loves more than anything.

On the Banks of Plum Creek

Laura's family's first home in Minnesota is made of sod, but Pa builds a clean new house made of sawed lumber beside Plum Creek. The money for materials will come from their first wheat crop. Then, just before the wheat is ready to harvest, a strange glittering cloud fills the sky, blocking out the sun. Soon millions of grasshoppers cover the field and everything on the farm. In a week's time, there is no wheat crop left at all.

By the Shores of Silver Lake

Pa Ingalls heads west to the unsettled wilderness of the Dakota Territory. When Ma, Mary, Laura, Carrie, and baby Grace join him, they become the first settlers in the town of De Smet. And Pa begins work on the first building in what will soon be a brand-new town on the shores of Silver Lake.

The Long Winter

The first terrible storm comes to the barren prairie in October. Then it snows almost without stopping until April. Snow has reached the rooftops, and no trains can get through with food or coal. The people of De Smet are starving, including Laura's family, who wonder how they're going to make it through this terrible winter. It is young Almanzo Wilder who finally understands what needs to be done. He must save the town, even if it means risking his own life.

Little Town on the Prairie
The long winter is over. With spring come socials, parties, and "Literaries." There is also work to be done. Laura spends many hours each day sewing shirts to help send Mary to a college for the blind. But in the evenings, Laura makes time for a new caller, Almanzo Wilder.


These Happy Golden Years
Laura is teaching school, and it's terrifying! Most of the students are taller than she is, and she must sleep away from home for the first time. Laura is miserable, but the money is needed to keep Mary in a college for the blind. And every Friday -- no matter what the weather -- Almanzo Wilder arrives to take Laura home to her family for the weekend. Laura and Almanzo are courting, and even though she's not yet sixteen, she knows that this is a time for new beginnings.


The First Four Years
Laura and Almanzo Wilder have just been married! Their life on a small prairie homestead begins with high hopes. But each year seems to bring unexpected disasters -- storms, sickness, fire, and unpaid debts. These first four years call for courage, strength, and a great deal of determination. Always, though, there is love, especially for the newest member of the family -- baby Rose.
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There are some wonderful pages on the web that are worth visiting:
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Laura Ingalls Wilder - Frontier Girl
The Little House Book

If you like her stories, you might want to read the "sequel", based on her memoirs, as well:
Old Town in the Green Groves: Laura Ingalls Wilder's Lost Little House Years” by Cynthia Rylant

If you want a more grown-up version, try "These is my words" and "Sarah's Quilt" by Nancy E. Turner. If you enjoyed the "Little House" stories, you will love these, too.

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