October 07, 2011

Little Town on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I'm now starting to get into my favorite books of the Little House on the Prairie series. For those of you not familiar with the series, they were written by Laura Ingalls Wilder about her life growing up with her Ma, Pa, and sisters while traveling to different home sites. They traveled from the Big Woods of Wisconsin, to Indian Territory, to Minnesota and then finally to the town of De Smet further west. They encountered many hardships but stuck together as a family.

This book they are still in DeSmet and it is the summer after the hard winter in which there were blizzards for seven months. They have returned to their land and the claim shanty to begin farming their piece of land when Pa decides that they will go back to town for the winter. While the winter is much milder there is a new sadness for them. Mary will be moving away to go to a College for the blind and Laura must begin studying hard in order to go be a schoolteacher so she can help provide money to keep Mary in school. There are so many things to distract her though, parties, socials, literaries, and the handsome Almanzo Wilder has started taking an interest in her. On the flip side though, her old nemesis from Plum Creek, Nellie Oleson, has moved to the same town and continued to be her rotten self. With all this going on, its hard to say if Laura will be prepared to teach school when she turns sixteen.

The characters (I call them such since they are somewhat embellished) are well described. Laura really grows in this book and its nice to see her make the transition from child to young woman. Although I do have to say the descriptions of corsets and hoop skirts make me cringe. Mary is largely absent from the book since she's in college but they do give her mention and Carrie plays a small part. Poor Grace though is hardly mentioned. What I especially liked was that this was the book Almanzo started taking an interested in Laura and it was fun to see the courtship as it was in those times.

The writing is perfect for children but not too juvenile for adults to read. Wilder really makes you feel as if you are living in those times. However, I do have to note that there is potentially some offensive things in this book. Ma still doesn't like Indians, but what really stood out is a scene in which Laura describes a play put on at a literary function when they played "darkies" and danced around. I could be construing it the wrong way, but it definitely could offend. If this scene were removed though, the book would be near perfect.

I've always enjoyed reading these books as a child and adult and as I said before this book starts the favorite of my series because of the addition of Almanzo. I'm always a sucker for a romance, even in a kid's novel I guess.

Little Town on the Prairie
Copyright 1941
307 pages

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