October 07, 2011

By the Shores of Silver Lake by Laura Ingalls Wilder

The Ingalls have moved west in this next edition of the Little House on the Prairie series. Its just as charming as the other books and its always a pleasure to read Wilder's telling of her life growing up.

When they haven't had a good crop in a few years, Mary going blind, and other bad luck, they decide to travel West to seek better land. First though, they stop off near where a railroad grade is being done and Pa becomes the storekeeper and payroll administrator. They live in a shanty where Laura gets to spend some time with cousins also in the area. When winter sets in, they become the only ones in the area and are fortunate enough to live in the Surveyor's house with tons of provisions set in for winter. They are joined later by friends and eventually Paul goes to make a claim on some land in the area so they can build a house and settle, hopefully for good this time.

The characters in this book, although based on real life, are sometimes too good to be real people. Lots of virtue and hardly any flaws. But I can imagine that Laura chose to remember her family in the best light that she could. Ma was a little more warm in this book which was nice to see. I think that as Laura got older she developed a better relationship with her mother. She still describes Pa as being a wonderful guy in this book as well.

Wilder has a nice writing style. Its easy for kids to read but appeals to all ages. She describes the time well and its easy to see the type of life they led. There are some offensive parts in this book though. Ma is not a big fan of Native Americans and doesn't mind saying so in this book. Despite it being the times where this was widely accepted, it could definitely be offensive for some people.

This is a wonderful series that I enjoy reading many times over. This book especially is a great one because it shows Laura a little older and growing up as opposed to being younger and more child-like. It could really resonate with kids who are also at this age. Overall this is just a great book for family reading time and a classic in its own right.

By the Shores of Silver Lake
Copyright 1939
291 pages + pictures

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