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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Most Recent at Top [Help]
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1. My Laura Ingalls Wilder Adventure

little house

 

Perhaps you didn’t know exactly how nerdy I am, but once I tell you what I am doing you will know for sure. I leave Tuesday for a Laura Ingalls Wilder adventure. I am flying to Wisconsin, where I will meet an Ingalls relative and a Wilder relative. We, along with three other Laura Ingalls Wilder and Little House on the Prairie (television show) fans, will be spending the following eight days visiting some Laura Ingalls Wilder sites and attending a 40th Anniversary Little House on the Prairie Cast Reunion taking place in Walnut Grove, Minnesota over the weekend.

Told you. Total nerd.

This will be the only time I do something like this. My girls aren’t into my whole obsession, so I knew if I planned this it would have to be just me and my friends. I’m not bringing much technology, so I won’t be blogging or posting pictures online until we get back. I’ll be sharing my adventures when we return at my Laura Ingalls Wilder blog: http://lauralittlehouseontheprairie.blogspot.com/


2 Comments on My Laura Ingalls Wilder Adventure, last added: 7/20/2014
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2. Grosset & Dunlap’s “Who Was?” Series | Women’s History Book Giveaway

Enter to win a Who Was? book from Grosset & Dunlap's leading biography series. Giveaway begins March 21, 2014, at 12:01 A.M. PST and ends April 20, 2014, at 11:59 P.M. PST.

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3. The Five Series I Most Look Forward to Reading with My Daughter

FiveSeriesI wrote a couple of weeks ago about my three-year-old daughter's newly expressed interest in being read chapter books, in addition to her regular diet of picture books and early readers. I asked people on the post and on Facebook to share titles that they had read with their children while were still pre-readers. I collected a number of titles, and was especially pleased to be reminded of a post that Melissa Wiley wrote a couple of years on this very topic (Chapter book suggestions for a four-year-old). Out of these suggestions, and my own opinions, I've come up with a list of the top five series I most look forward to reading with my daughter. They are (in approximate age order):

1. The Clementine Books by Sara Pennypacker (ill. Marla Frazee). I absolutely adore Clementine. I think she is a wonderful character, and that the books are spot on in terms of both realism and humor. Frazee's illustrations perfectly capture Clementine for me, too. And there are enough illustrations that I think Baby Bookworm will be ready for the first book soon. In fact I just ordered a new copy, because I apparently gave mine away (back in the days before I knew that I'd have a daughter to read it to, I suspect). And as a bonus, the books are set in Boston, where my family's pro sports loyalties will forever lie. 

2. The Pippi Longstocking Books by Astrid Lindgren. My daughter has a 3-year-old's love of the ridiculous. I think that she'll be as charmed by the irrepressible Pippi as I was. And perhaps she'll be inspired by the way that Pippi solves her own problems. Pippi gives new meaning to the term "strong girl." My second grade class did Pippi as a class play, with my friend Holly as Pippi (her real braids manipulated out to the sides with a coat hanger or something). I was Annika, and I'll never forget it. 

I also splurged on the DVD boxed set of the four Pippi movies from the 1970s. This was more for me than for Baby Bookworm, in truth (though she adores movies), because I have fond memories of my dad taking my siblings and I (or probably just my next-youngest brother and I) to see them in the theater. Pippi in the South Seas was my favorite of the movies, and I look forward to seeing it again (after we read the book). 

3. The Little House Books by Laura Ingalls Wilder (ill. Garth Williams). This was the first series that I remember reading on my own, devouring book after book. Little House in the Big Woods will forever be the first middle grade title that Baby Bookworm expressed a serious interest in reading (admittedly inspired by Little House in the Big Woods paper dolls). So it is naturally on our Top 5 list. But as we've progressed in attempting to read the first book, it's become clear that she's more interested in hearing the stories associated with some of the pictures than in actually listening to the whole book right now. No worries. The books will wait. 

4. The Penderwicks Books by Jeanne Birdsall. I adore The Penderwicks. To me these books are modern classics, with the characterization and emotional resonance of the Elizabeth Enright books (childhood favorites of mine), but with a more up-to-date feel. Clearly 4-year-old Batty will be Baby Bookworm's favorite character, if we read the books any time within the next few years, but I imagine that one day she will identify with Jane or Skye or eventually Rosalind. These are books I'd like to read with her while she's in elementary school, when she's old enough to discuss Rosalind's crush, and Jeffrey's loneliness. But young enough to feel the endless potential of summer in the first book. 

5. The Harry Potter Books by J.K. Rowling (ill. Mary GrandPre). OK, this one is a bit of a cliche. But really, who doesn't look forward to reading the Harry Potter books with their child? I did, in fact, read Baby Bookworm the first book when she was an infant, but I look forward to her being old enough to appreciate the story. I don't want to start too soon, because the later books are pretty dark, and I know that once we start we're likely to want to keep going. But I do look forward to spending time with my daughter in Harry Potter's world. In fact, I think this one will be a family affair, because I can't imagine my husband not wanting to participate, too. 

There are lots of other books that I hope to read with my Baby Bookworm when the time is right. I hope that she will be as captivated by the work of Elizabeth Enright and Zilpha Keatley Snyder as I was, and am. I imagine that she'll love The Borrowers. I hope that she doesn't find A Little Princess or The Secret Garden dated. I hope that we are able to read book after book after book together. I think that there are some books that she'll enjoy more if she discovers them on her own (though I can't say which ones off the top of my head). But the above five are the series that I am most looking forward to sharing with her. Perhaps in a future post I'll look at some standalone titles (Matilda, perhaps?).

What books do you look forward to reading aloud with your children? What books did you enjoy when they were younger? If you've already been through it, don't you kind of envy me, having all of these books still ahead of us? An unintentional upside to having a child late in life. Thanks for reading!

© 2013 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved. You can also follow me @JensBookPage or at my Growing Bookworms page on Facebook. This site is an Amazon affiliate. 

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4. Books About Girls | Five Family Favorites with Claudia Mills

Claudia Mills is the author of many chapter and middle-grade books, including 7 x 9=Trouble!; How Oliver Olson Changed the World; Kelsey Green, Reading Queen; and, most recently, Zero Tolerance. Mills shares a wonderful list of her family's favorite books that feature girl protagonists—she encourages you to share them with both boys and girls, alike.

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5. Required reading - Lily Hyde

There’s only one book to get me through the present icy weather, and that’s Laura Ingalls Wilder’s The Long Winter.

There something to be said for escapist books full of sunshine and palm trees and cocktails for cold times. But I find burying myself in the blizzards and hardship endured by the indomitable Ingalls family in their 1880s Dakota frontier town both puts our present disastrous weather into perspective and does that most comforting thing – makes it into a childhood story.

I’ve been a huge fan of the Little House on the Prairie books since I was about seven and my aunt gave me the first one – I promptly wrote her a letter asking if she could give me the next six forthwith. I loved rebellious Laura, the sense of independence and adventure, and also all the practical and at the same time (to me) exotic details, about how to build a log house or collect maple syrup or trap gophers (I still don’t really know what a gopher is; as a child I somehow got the idea that it was a sort of big furry spider). I loved the close-knit family, Pa’s fiddle music, their poor but deliriously happy Christmases.

So rereading The Long Winter is a nostalgic trip back into the comfort of childhood, when all I did was sit curled up with a book, living other people’s adventures in my head and dreaming up my own. I’m still struck by the adventurousness, and by the reassuringly calm heroics of Ma and Pa Ingalls keeping the family together. I’m more appalled by the hardship now; and suspect that in truth they survived seven months of awful claustrophobia and boredom on top of hunger and weakness and cold with a lot more than just one temper tantrum from Laura... And I find the story of Almanzo’s brave trip into a blizzard to find corn to feed the starving townspeople (when in fact he has a load of his own corn squirreled away in town that he’s saving to plant in spring) a lot more morally interesting as an adult.

In the years since, I’ve read many more winter books, and lived through quite a few seven-month Ukrainian winters of my own. Now, even while I’m commiserating with my poor parents up in the north-west, I’m worrying about Ukrainian and Russian friends stuck with record snow-drifts this year. But The Long Winter is still my paradigm of wintry hardship endured and overcome.

(Although if we really have a whole month of this coming up, I may have to turn to The Worst Journey in the World, Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s account of Scott’s last trip to the Antarctic. Several hours thawing out a sleeping bag just enough to actually be able to get inside it, every night, for weeks... Now that puts our weather into perspective.)

What books are getting you through the cold?

www.lilyhyde.com


7 Comments on Required reading - Lily Hyde, last added: 4/9/2013
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6. On the Shelf with Librarian April Hayley

Librarian Spotlight #1

By Bianca Schulze, The Children’s Book Review
Published: August 17, 2012

April Hayley, MLIS

To kick off TCBR’s new column “On the Shelf,” which shines a spotlight on brilliant children’s librarians, April Hayley, MLIS, graciously  talked to us about becoming a librarian— among other great topics. Do you think you can guess which is the most checked out children’s book at San Anslemo Public Library in California? Read on!

Bianca Schulze: Why did you choose to become a librarian?

April Hayley: I was fortunate enough to discover the magic of reading at a young age, probably before I was out of the cradle. My mother, a librarian, read me stories and sang to me every night before bed and my father made up fairy tales for me. I didn’t discover my calling as a librarian until college one summer, working for the Chicago Public Library (my hometown). My job was to provide library services to children in some of the city’s most neglected and poverty-stricken neighborhoods. Instead of working inside the library, I brought books and literacy activities directly to the young people who needed it most. I visited three playgrounds a day, equipped only with a trunk full of picture books and a quilt to sit on. Once the kids figured out why I was coming around, they always ran over to join me, so eager to read stories, sing songs, and learn something new.Reading opened up new worlds for the kids I met. I could see it as they linked their eyes with mine, and for me that was a powerful, life-changing experience.

Most of the precious children I met that summer had never been exposed to the pleasures of reading, and none of them had ever visited a public library. When I witnessed the joy and curiosity that reading sparked in them, I understood the transformative effect of reading on young minds and I knew I wanted to be a Children’s Librarian. Once I entered graduate school to earn my Masters in Library Science, I had the opportunity to intern in the Children’s Room of the beautiful Mill Valley Library, and I knew I was on the right path; delivering traditional library services within the walls of a suburban public library could be just as fun and rewarding as literacy outreach in the inner city.

BS: Librarians are the ultimate evangelists for reading. How do you encourage students and children to read?

AH: Now that I work at the San Anselmo Library, I am lucky that many of the kids I meet already love to read. There is a culture of reading in San Anselmo that simply does not exist in places whose inhabitants must spend their time dealing with the dispiriting effects of poverty. Of course, I do a lot of work to promote reading for the children, babies, caregivers, and teenagers of our community. I lead several weekly storytimes for toddlers and preschoolers, which are designed to nourish a love of reading that will last a lifetime. It’s important to reach out to new parents and their babies as early as possible to show them how fun reading, sharing nursery rhymes, learning fingerplays, and singing can be. I also lead a book discussion group for elementary school students called the Bookworms, and a poetry club for yo

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7. Dear Genius

Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula NordstromA book of letters I ought to have included in my ode to epistles and epistolaries the other day: Dear Genius: The Letters of Ursula Nordstrom. Miss Nordstrom, the pioneering editor behind Harper’s Department of Books for Boys and Girls from 1940 to 1973, was something of a genius herself. The list of children’s classics she was responsible for publishing is staggeringly long and awesome: Little Bear, Where the Wild Things Are, Goodnight Moon, Danny and the Dinosaur, Where the Sidewalk ends, Harold and the Purple Crayon, oh and a little thing called Charlotte’s Web—to name a very few.

Dear Genius is a collection of letters she wrote to authors, illustrators, reviewers, even parents and children who had written with responses to her books. She is unfailingly poised, charming, and insightful, even when responding to criticism. And her voice, oh her wonderful voice! Her letters are simply crammed with personality—she is wry, teasing, incisive, direct, and altogether brilliant.

Her editorial letters provide a fascinating look at the history of children’s publishing in America, both on the grand scale of publishing trends and literary vision, and on the micro scale of word choices for a single line of a specific book. For instance, in a 1957 letter to Syd Hoff about Danny and the Dinosaur, an early “I Can Read” book for beginning readers:Danny and the Dinosaur by Syd Hoff

I think you should just say “One day Danny went to the museum.” (He didn’t actually want to “see how the world looked a long, long time ago,” as you put it, do you think? Very unchildlike. He might have wanted to go to see the dead mummies, or other specific things in a museum, but I wouldn’t mention that here because you mention it on following pages. So just have a simple statement on this first page. “One day Danny went to the museum.”) It is pretty short and if you can think of one more short sentence for this page by all means add it. I can’t come up with any suggestion myself. Page 8: You’ll have to simplify what he saw on this page. NOT THAT I WANT YOU TO GET SELF-CONSCIOUS ABOUT “I CAN READ.” I told you I wanted you to let me worry about that aspect and that’s all I’m doing now. You could just say “He saw Indians. He saw bears. He saw…” I haven’t been in a museum in 150 years and can’t think of anything else, but you can.

Or, in September 1963:

Maurice, before I sent the paste-up I went through it, rereading the words, and looking at the pictures again. It is MOST MAGNIFICENT, and we’re so proud to have it on our list. When you were much younger, and had done only a couple of books, I remember I used to write you letters when the books were finished, and thank you for “another beautiful” job—or some such dopiness. Now you’re rich and famous and need no words of wonder from me. But I must send them, anyhow, when I look through Where the Wild Things Are. I think it is utterly magnificent, and the words are beautiful and meaningful, and it does just wan

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8. Yona Zeldis McDonough: From Madame Alexander to Marilyn Monroe

By Nicki Richesin, The Children’s Book Review
Published: December 5, 2011

Yona Zeldis McDonough

Yona Zeldis McDonough is the talented author of many books for readers of all ages: fiction and non-fiction for adults and award-winning children’s books. She has most recently written the highly anticipated second book in her Doll Shop series, The Cats in the Doll Shop. Although a prolific writer, Yona still makes time for school visits and readings. She lives in Brooklyn with her family.

Nicki Richesin: It’s a great pleasure to interview you. You have proved a prolific writer of both fiction and nonfiction for adults, in addition to your award-winning children’s books. My daughter adored The Doll Shop Downstairs and The Cats in the Doll Shop. Could you explain how you first discovered Beatrice Alexander, or Madame Alexander as she’s known, and how her story inspired you to write about the resourceful Breittlemann family?

Yona Zeldis McDonough: I remember Madame Alexander dolls from my own childhood. I longed for them though I never had one back then.  As an adult, I started collecting dolls and bought a few of Mme. Alexander’s creations for my collection. When I was reading about her early life, I found out that her father owned and operated America’s first doll hospital.  It was on the Lower East Side and the family lived in an apartment above the shop.  Beatrice (she was Bertha in those days) and her sisters were allowed to play in the doll hospital sometimes and when I learned that, I just knew: here was a perfect setting for a children’s story.

Many of your books are set in Brooklyn, where you live with your family. Why has this area of New York proved such a “fertile ground” as you put it in your work?

YZM: I love Brooklyn. It’s so vast and filled with its own history, character and even mysteries. It is both a part of New York, and yet retains a separate identity.  I grew up in Brooklyn and so it holds many associations for me

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9. Folding Laundry? Walking the Dog?

Consider passing the time by listening in on the recent interview I did with Barry Eva of A Book and a Chat. Download the podcast here.

Here are some highlights and where to find them in the interview:

2:00 -- Magic tricks with Caroline the Great
3:25 -- Laura Ingalls Wilder's influence on my writing
5:40 -- Deserts: Saudi Arabia and New Mexico
9:20 -- Marmite, Vegemite, and Promite

11:00 -- Poetry in the classroom
17:40 -- Reflections on the word "poet"
19:00 -- How MAY B. came to be a verse novel
20:30 -- Emily Dickinson's poems and Gilligan's Island

23:35 -- Books I wrote before MAY B.
24:20 -- Roald Dahl's writing advice
26:20 -- Inspiration behind MAY B.
29:30 -- MAY B. and dyslexia
34:15 -- Mail order brides
36:05 -- MAY B. overview
37:03 -- sod houses

41:05 -- more on MAY as a verse novel
43:40 -- A little secret about my exposure to verse novels
44:47 -- My publication journey
49:00 -- The amazing Karen Cushman
49:35 -- The Classes of 2k11 and 2k12

53:50 -- Future projects

5 Comments on Folding Laundry? Walking the Dog?, last added: 12/7/2011
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10. Favorite Little House Moments

Whenever I hear the name Laura Ingalls Wilder, or even just think it, a warm homey feeling comes over me like being covered in my grandma's quilt.  Today I'm getting that feeling a lot, since February 7th is Laura Ingalls Wilder's birthday (born in 1867) and she is very much on my mind.

It's been said that Wilder wrote the Little House books to preserve the stories of her childhood for today's children, to help them to understand how much America had changed during her lifetime.  Thanks to her foresight, generations of children have vicariously lived the pioneer experience and gained an appreciation of the difficulties the early homesteaders faced in a way that no history book or adult recitation of "how good we have it" could ever accomplish.

The Little House books have also given readers an opportunity to bond across generations, when the books are lovingly passed along from a parent or grandparent who fell in love with the series during their own childhood. Personally, I read my mother's set--which didn't include The First Four Years, discovered many years after Wilder's death--with their odd square shape and cloth covers, purchased during a time when the author was still alive (Wilder died in 1957 at the age of 90). I have warm memories of reading those old books, pretending I was living in the Ingalls cabin alongside Laura and Mary, and I can't wait to share the series with my own daughter.  Reading even a fraction of the hundreds of customer reviews tells me that the Little House bond is shared by many, and one of the beautiful things about these books is that they are loved by boys and girls alike.

Wilder was 65 in 1932 when her first book, Little House in the Big Woods, was published and her books have remained in print ever since.   In 1954 the American Library Association founded the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, the first one given to its namesake, and now awarded every two years to "an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children." The current winner is Tomie dePaola, who received the award in 2011.  Besides the children's book award, there are museums, elementary schools (including one in my hometown), countless books, blogs, and websites--even a crater on Venus named for Laura Ingalls Wilder. And then, of course, there was the wildly popular television show that brought Laura, most notably in the form of Melissa Gilbert, into the homes of millions every week (along with Nellie Olesen, the quintessential mean girl).  It's quite a legacy.

Please join me in some Little House nostalgia, as I reminisce about maple syrup candy and falling asleep to the sound of fiddle playing--what are some of your favorite Little House moments? --Seira

The nine books in the Little House series:

11. Favorite Little House Moments

Whenever I hear the name Laura Ingalls Wilder, or even just think it, a warm homey feeling comes over me like being covered in my grandma's quilt.  Today I'm getting that feeling a lot, since February 7th is Laura Ingalls Wilder's birthday (born in 1867) and she is very much on my mind.

It's been said that Wilder wrote the Little House books to preserve the stories of her childhood for today's children, to help them to understand how much America had changed during her lifetime.  Thanks to her foresight, generations of children have vicariously lived the pioneer experience and gained an appreciation of the difficulties the early homesteaders faced in a way that no history book or adult recitation of "how good we have it" could ever accomplish.

The Little House books have also given readers an opportunity to bond across generations, when the books are lovingly passed along from a parent or grandparent who fell in love with the series during their own childhood. Personally, I read my mother's set--which didn't include The First Four Years, discovered many years after Wilder's death--with their odd square shape and cloth covers, purchased during a time when the author was still alive (Wilder died in 1957 at the age of 90). I have warm memories of reading those old books, pretending I was living in the Ingalls cabin alongside Laura and Mary, and I can't wait to share the series with my own daughter.  Reading even a fraction of the hundreds of customer reviews tells me that the Little House bond is shared by many, and one of the beautiful things about these books is that they are loved by boys and girls alike.

Wilder was 65 in 1932 when her first book, Little House in the Big Woods, was published and her books have remained in print ever since.   In 1954 the American Library Association founded the Laura Ingalls Wilder Award, the first one given to its namesake, and now awarded every two years to "an author or illustrator whose books, published in the United States, have made, over a period of years, a substantial and lasting contribution to literature for children." The current winner is Tomie dePaola, who received the award in 2011.  Besides the children's book award, there are museums, elementary schools (including one in my hometown), countless books, blogs, and websites--even a crater on Venus named for Laura Ingalls Wilder. And then, of course, there was the wildly popular television show that brought Laura, most notably in the form of Melissa Gilbert, into the homes of millions every week (along with Nellie Olesen, the quintessential mean girl).  It's quite a legacy.

Please join me in some Little House nostalgia, as I reminisce about maple syrup candy and falling asleep to the sound of fiddle playing--what are some of your favorite Little House moments? --Seira

The nine books in the Little House series:

12. THE WILDER LIFE by Wendy McClure


For those of you who've followed here a while (and even for those who are rather new), you might have caught that I'm a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan. My book, MAY B., was partially inspired by my desire to create my own strong pioneer girl who would feel, in the spirit of Laura Ingalls, both familiar and brave.

If you, too, are a Laura fan, you have to get a hold of Wendy McClure's THE WILDER LIFE: MY ADVENTURES IN THE LOST WORLD OF LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE. As an adult, Wendy rekindles her Laura love and determines she'll learn as much as she can about the Ingalls and their world. Wendy embarks on a butter-churning, midwestern-prairie trekking adventure, where she visits all of Laura's homesites (excluding the Wilders brief stay in Florida), experiments with homesteading techniques (sourdough starter, anyone?), and digs deep into what is real, what is fiction, and what is memory.

Those of us who grew up loving Laura Ingalls have memories of our own. For me, I remember Laura being the first author I "knew." Sure, I'd been exposed to plenty of books before the Little House series, but it was while listening to my father read that I came to understand Laura the girl and Laura the writer were the same person. I was convinced that Laura had actually typed each page in my book, stuck everything together, and sent it to the bookstore.

 Wendy's book covers a lot -- the television series fans vs. the book fans (some of us are both, but lean more one way or the other), the way Laura's books are more fictitious than many realize (For example, LITTLE HOUSE IN THE BIG WOODS actually covers the time before and after LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE; the Ingalls, like many pioneers, had to backtrack before being able to move west again), and the expectation -- and disappointment -- a fan might experience while visiting, as Wendy calls it, Laura World. How much of the books comes from true events? How much of our memories of the Ingalls were partially formed by our own childhood impressions? Where is a fan left in the midst of it all? And why did TV Pa solve so many problems by throwing punches?

For this Laura fan, this book was incredibly satisfying. Wendy, like it or not, you've made a new friend.

Has anyone else read THE WILDER LIFE? What were your impressions? If your name happens to be Stephanie and you babysat me as a girl, don't buy your o

9 Comments on THE WILDER LIFE by Wendy McClure, last added: 2/14/2012
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13. LauraPalooza 2012: Register Now!

The second-ever LauraPalooza—a conference for Laura Ingalls Wilder scholars and fans—will be held in Mankato, MN this July 12-14th. Details at the site:

The theme of LauraPalooza 2012 is “What Would Laura Do?” and will include a mix of scholarly research and Little House fandom. More information, including the full schedule and registration form, can be found by visiting Beyond Little House. Look for the heading “LauraPalooza 2012″. All information that you need can be found there in the pull-down menu.

Events include:

• Special performance by Alison “Nellie Oleson” Arngrim
• LIW biographer William Anderson
Little House Cookbook author Barbara Walker
• Authors’ reception including Barbara Walker, The Wilder Life author Wendy McClure, My Life As Laura author Kelly Ferguson, and others
• The return of the National Weather Service’s Barbara Mayes Boustead and physics teacher/Laura fan Jim Hicks
• Original research and insight on Laura, her life, and her books
• Conference-ending Spelling Bee and Silent Auction
• Special post-conference field trip to Walnut Grove, Minnesota — the setting for On the Banks of Plum Creek!
• A special presentation by Dean “Almanzo Wilder” Butler and Dale Cockrell of Pa’s Fiddle Recordings about the PBS Little House music special filmed last January in Nashville.

There’s also going to be a camp—Camp Laura—for kids grades K-6 (while parents are attending the conference).

Registration is open through May 31st.

I sooo wish I could go! Alas, it coincides with Comic-Con, a busy, busy weekend for us Bonny Glen folks. One of these years I am determined to get to LauraPalooza, though. If you can make it this year, you absolutely should! And then send me pictures. :)

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14. May B. Book Club in Action


Remember the May B. Book Club Kit Giveaway? Here's a story from one of the runners-up. Sarah Baldwin teaches at the Batam Island International School in Batam, Indonesia. Her students (first through seventh grade) have just finished reading May B. I couldn't resist posting her lovely email and the pictures that accompanied it:

Our classroom journey through the world of May B has been an enlightening adventure!
Marking out the dimensions of a soddy
The children excelled at writing up and presenting reports on the flora and fauna native to Kansas. They really enjoyed marking out the inside of a soddy home and felt cramped just imagining the dirt walls, ceiling and seemingly endless snow outside.
Your vocabulary words were accessible and insightful, especially to those who have never seen the Midwest of the United States. Most of all, the students enjoyed the short video clips of you describing soddy homes and poetry. Thank you for preparing those for us!
Thank you for providing a wonderful Study Guide on which we could hang all our ideas and questions surrounding May B. As a teacher, I was gratified to read the students' responses to the the KWL Chart: Life on the Prairie. They definitely remembered the fact that buffalo chips weren't like Dorritos and teachers could be as young as 15 years old! I really enjoyed hearing students' insights into the discussion questions.
May B was just as much a gift to me as it was to my students. I grew up wanting to be La

8 Comments on May B. Book Club in Action, last added: 5/11/2012
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15. John Updike’s Childhood Home to Be Museum

The John Updike Society has finalized a contract to purchase John Updike‘s home for $200,000.

Located in the Pennsylvania town of Shillington, Updike lived in the home for thirteen years as a child. John Updike Society president James Plath announced that the organization plans to make the house a historic site and convert it into an operational museum.

Here’s more from Reading Eagle: “Out of respect for the residential neighborhood, Plath said, he expects the historic site to be open only by appointment and not list regular hours. Plath said he has researched the operations of similar historic sites that were once authors’ homes, including the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians in Columbus, Ga., and the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum in Montgomery, Ala.”

continued…

New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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16. John Updike’s Childhood Home to Be Museum

The John Updike Society has finalized a contract to purchase John Updike‘s home for $200,000.

Located in the Pennsylvania town of Shillington, Updike lived in the home for thirteen years as a child. John Updike Society president James Plath announced that the organization plans to make the house a historic site and convert it into an operational museum.

Here’s more from Reading Eagle: “Out of respect for the residential neighborhood, Plath said, he expects the historic site to be open only by appointment and not list regular hours. Plath said he has researched the operations of similar historic sites that were once authors’ homes, including the Carson McCullers Center for Writers and Musicians in Columbus, Ga., and the Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald Museum in Montgomery, Ala.”

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17. Top 100 Children’s Novels #19: Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

#19 Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder (1932)
81 points

Again with the food – I always want a slice of pie, maple syrup on snow, or a stack of pancakes after reading Wilder. - Jessalynn Gale

My inclusion of this one even surprises me a bit. I admit to being bored out of my wits by Little House on the Prairie, but I also remember devouring Big Woods in a truly bonnet-head (see The Wilder Life by Wendy McClure) fashion, and being a bookseller taught me the unbridled love kids have for this series. They transport you. Curled up in a blanket reading this I fantasized what it would be like to be barricaded inside that little cabin, playing with corn husk dolls instead of Barbies. A story that will always be fascinating in the way it details a past way of life in America while at the same time being a sweet and funny tale of family life. There are few examples of historical fiction (or nonfiction) that have turned so many kids on. - Nicole Johnston Wroblewski

The standard story of the books’ creation is that when Laura was in her 60s her daughter Rose urged her to write down her stories of her youth. According to American Writers for Children, 1900-1960: “From 1924 to 1931, Rose Wilder Lane spent a good deal of time in Mansfield and probably offered her mother encouragement and editorial assistance. Rose first conducted negotiations with the children’s editor at Alfred A. Knopf for them to publish the manuscript ‘When Grandma was a Little Girl’.”

Be sure to check out Debbie Reese’s reaction to this book the last time it appeared on this poll, including a problematic section regarding American Indians in the book.  There is another piece following the book’s inclusion on the Children’s Book-a-Day Almanac.  The book is also mentioned in conjunction with the Common Core Standards for English Language Arts.

Anita Silvey’s 100 Best Books for Children picks it up from there.  “She [Rose] then prepared a twenty-page third-person narrative, ‘When Grandma Was a Little Girl,’ that she and her mother saw as picture-book text. They sent that book to a children’s editor at Knopf, Marian Fiery.  Fiery, however, wanted the book expanded to 25,000 words and filled with details of pioneer life.  Rose instructed her mother, ‘If you find it easier to write in the first person, write it that way.  I will change it into the third person later’.”

Said the August 10, 2009 New Yorker article Wilder Women, “The book business, hard hit by the Depression, was cutting back drastically, and a first draft of Wilder’s memoir, ‘Pioneer Girl,’ was passed over by several agents and publishers, who felt that it lacked drama. But she persisted—less interested, she later said, in the money than in the prestige of authorship—and when Virginia Kirkus, an editor of children’s books at Harper & Brothers, received a new version of the material, now recast as a novel aimed at readers between the ages of eight and twelve, she bought it.”

That same editor, Virginia Kirkus, when recalling the book said, “the

3 Comments on Top 100 Children’s Novels #19: Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, last added: 6/12/2012
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18. No library on the Prairie ...... Miriam Halahmy

I've just come back from a visit to California and suprise surprise - its not just the UK public libraries under threat of cuts. Pomona Public Library  according to the L.A. Times two weeks ago, could be facing its 'final chapter'. To add insult to injury, this is the library which stores the original handwritten manuscript of "Little Town on the Prairie" donated by the author herself, Laura Ingalls Wilder.


"You make good use of your library I am sure," Laura wrote in May 1950. "How I would have loved it when I was young but I was far from a library in those days." One of America's most beloved author's began corresponding with the Pomona Public Library's children's librarian, who was a fan of her books and this is how the manuscript came to be donated. There is even a room named in the author's honour in the library. Yet none of this may be enough to save it from closure. The library currently has a budget of $1.6 million  and is open 26 hours a week. They have been offered a chance to stay open if they can cut the budget to $400,000. I have no idea how these figures compare to UK library budgets but anyone can see that the cut is just too much. "Any book you haven't read is a new book," is the library's slogan and it is truly heartbreaking to hear that they might close.

However it is not all doom and gloom. One hour up the coast from L.A. is the city of Oxnard where my 95 year old aunt, Stella lives with her husband Bob. Stella was born in London in 1916, the year of the Somme. Her father, my grandpa, Joe Hyams, was a gunner at the front. He's the one with the cross next to him.



Stella has lived in California since the 1960s. For the past 20 years she has volunteered at the Oxnard Public Library and is still a very valued member of the team. Here she is at her work station. She catalogues the CDs.





It was great to have a chance to look round a local library in the States and I was enormously impressed. The children's library which occupies only part of the ground floor is absolutely vast - about twice the size of the entire public library in Golders Green near me.

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19. happy birthday, laura ingalls wilder!



"The wind was blowing, but not too hard, and everyone was so happy and gay for it was only twenty degrees below zero and the sun shone." ~ Laura Ingalls Wilder


I didn't realize until the other day that Charles Dickens and Laura Ingalls Wilder were both born on February 7th. Definitely must give Laura a little equal time today! (Anyone who says "only twenty degrees below zero" deserves 100 birthday cakes.)

Enjoy this 10-minute video about Laura's life. It was done for a school project and is narrated by a very articulate young lady.



Wishing for something new to read about Laura? A very special book is coming!

               

On March 16th, Borrowed Names by Jeannine Atkins (Henry Holt, 2010), will be officially released! It features poems about three notable mother-daughter pairs: Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane, Madam C.J. Walker and A'Lelia Walker, and Marie Curie and Irène Joliot-Curie. The book has already received starred reviews from Booklist and School Library Journal. Pre-order your copy now! To whet your appetite, click here to read a nice excerpt.

Now, let's celebrate Laura's birthday with a nice piece of apple pie!
   
      photo by forkableblog.

Have a lovely Sunday!

More Pajama Party posts here.

Related posts about LIW on alphabet soup:

My interview with Sidney Greenbush, who played Carrie Ingalls on the TV series, "Little House on the Prairie." (It gets the most hits on this blog!)

"Laura for a Day" (with her gingerbread recipe).

"A Heapin' Helpin' of Almanzo's Fried Apples 'n Onions."

Copyright © 2010 Jama Rattigan of jama rattigan's alphabet soup. All rights reserved.

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20. Little House in the Big Woods - Johnny-cake

"Laura always wondered why bread made of corn-meal was called johnny-cake. It wasn't cake."  - Little House in the Big Woods, Laura Ingalls Wilder

Shortly after beginning to read chapter books independently, my mother suggested I read the first of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books, Little House in the Big Woods. It was the summer I turned seven and I tore through the series (with breaks in between some of the books to read various books in the Beverly Cleary and Judy Blume canons) with fervor until I finished the last book during Christmas vacation six months later. I have particularly fond memories of reading The Long Winter during an overnight stay at my grandfather's house. I always, always knew that I would read these books with my kids. One of my first thoughts upon learning my first child would be a boy--I am not kidding--was that there went my dreams of being able to bond over the Little House books. Then I heard--from teachers and other parents--that their boys loved these books. And my visions of reading them with my children were restored.

My boys and I began reading Laura Ingalls Wilder's "Little House" series last summer, when I thought they were both old enough to appreciate Little House in the Big Woods as a read aloud. They didn't just love it; they clamored for more. Good thing Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote eight more books in the series. (Though I tend to dismiss the last book, The First Four Years, on the grounds that it is disturbing and has a different tone from the rest of the series. A fact I picked up on even at the age of seven, though a recent New Yorker article shed some additional light onto this topic.)

We are now in the middle of On the Banks of Plum Creek, my favorite of the Little House books. To me, this book has more action and character development than Little House in the Big Woods and Little House on the Prairie (the first two titles we read), which are heavy on the long descriptive passages. It is in this book that the individual personalities of Laura and her sister Mary become more defined--Mary as the gentle, obedient daughter and Laura as the spitfire tomboy (my older son always gets upset when Laura does something wrong and gets scolded by Pa)--and we see them in the world around them instead of just at home. Who can forget that house in the ground, or mean Nellie Oleson and her town party, or the locusts, or--most disturbing to my seven-year old mind--Laura losing her beloved rag doll, Charlotte? Oh, there is action and plenty to love in the earlier books: the image of Laura and Mary playing with a pic's bladder balloon in Little House in the Big Woods is forever burned into my brain because it just seemed so weird to me the first time I read it. And my boys don't tire of hearing about Pa and his hunting escapades, or the way they built their homes, or the various animals the the Ingalls family kept as pets and working farm animals.

Food figures prominently in Wilder's descriptions of the (often harsh) pioneer life. So much so, in fact, that Barbara M. Walker collected many of the foods mentioned throughout the course of the series in The Little House Cookbook. It is in this book that we found the recipe for johnny-cake, a bread that was a staple in Laura's childhood home. Walker describes it as, "a crusty slab of cooked cornmeal that was mostly a vehicle for syrup or gravy." The name "johnny-cake" comes from New England pronunciation of "journey cake"--a staple of colonial travelers.

Johnny-cake (adapted from The Little House Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker)

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21. Creating little outdoor homes in our not so big garden

Last month M and I finished reading Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. Although I’m sure very many of you will know the book, for those of you that don’t, Little House in the Big Woods is the first book in a series of essentially autobiographical novels about a young girl growing up in rural America in second half of the 19th century.

This first book details her family’s life over the course of a year in the woods of Wisconsin and is full of descriptions of many homesteading skills, such as making butter and maple syrup, preserving food for the winter, and hunting. Such a synopsis does not do the book justice! The fact that Little House in the Big Woods came in at no. 23 in Fuse 8’s Top 100 Children’s Novel Poll should tell you that this is a special book that is definitely worth reading!

Photo: Resedabear

I was thrilled to be able to read Little House in the Big Woods to M as it was one of my favourite books as a child. To my great delight she was as inspired and enthusiastic about it as I was (and still am!). As we read the book together there were lots of new words for M – some new because of the American setting, some new because of the historical setting – and because of this, combined with the fact that she clearly loved the story and wanted to listen to it again straight away, we treated ourselves to the audiobook version of Little House in the Big Woods.

To my surprise there seems to be only version of Little House in the Big Woods available. It is an unabridged recording, comprising 4 CDs, read by Cherry Jones, an American actress who was in Erin Brockovich among other films and also starred in the TV series 24. Cherry Jones reads the novel with great conviction and her American accent certainly helped set the scene for us as we listened along.

Occasionally she is accompanied by Paul Woodiel on the violin, playing short excerpts of the fiddle music that appears throughout the novel, as played by Pa, the head of the family. What there is of the fiddle music is wonderful – adding another layer of authenticity to the story, but time and time again I felt that the producers of this audiobook had missed a trick by not letting the fiddle music really shine. For example, when there is a jig competition between two family members the dancing and the music are vividly described in the book and yet there is no music at all at this point in the CD. I don’t think this bothered M at all, but I’m sure these CDs are listened to by almost as many adults as children, and for us a bit more wonderful music would not have gone amiss!

Photo: Mhowry

I wondered if M might be surprised by the American accent, especially as some words are pronounced so differently as to be somewhat confusing (eg “herbs”), but she didn’t bat an eyelid

3 Comments on Creating little outdoor homes in our not so big garden, last added: 4/29/2010
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22. Laurapalooza!

This coming weekend, Laura Ingalls Wilder fans and scholars from all over the country will gather in Mankato, MN, for the first-ever Laurapalooza Conference. I was invited to attend, but alas, I couldn’t swing a weekend away the week before Comic-Con. When your hubby’s a comic-book editor in San Diego, July is ALL ABOUT Comic-Con.

I’ll be LauraPaloozing in spirit, though, and eagerly following news of the conference on Twitter and at the Beyond Little House site.

Mankato, as you may know, is not only rich in LIW history, it’s the town on which Maud Hart Lovelace based the Deep Valley of her Betsy-Tacy books. As you can imagine, Mankato is high on my list of Places I Absolutely Must Visit Someday.

Laurapalooza speakers include LIW biographers John Miller, William Anderson, and Pamela Smith Hill. Visit Beyond Little House for more information.

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23. July is classic books month on TTLG - Day twelve

When I was about eight or so, my American grandmother sent me a boxed set of the Little House books. As soon as I began to read Little House in the Big Woods I became a devotee of Laura Ingalls Wilder's books, and I have read everything she wrote - I think. 


Little House in the Big Woods
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Illustrator:   Garth Williams 
Nonfiction
For ages 8 and up
HarperCollins, 1971   ISBN: 978-0064400015
   Laura is a little girl who lives in a log cabin in the woods of Wisconsin with her Ma, Pa, her sisters Mary and Carrie, and the brindled bulldog Jack. The family is so isolated that Laura has never seen a town, and she rarely gets to play with other children, but she loves her life and enjoys all the new activities that come with the changing seasons.
   With Laura we are going to see what it would have been like to live in the north woods in the late 1800’s. We are going to share the special events that mark the year; Christmas, Laura’s birthday, cheese making time, maple sugar time, harvest time and more. We are going to laugh at Pa’s wonderful stories, and sympathize with Laura when she is punished for being a naughty girl on a Sunday. We are going to discover what it must have felt like to see a town for the first time when Laura and her family go to the lake town of Pepin, and we are going to feel a sense of loss when Pa decides that it is time to leave the Big Woods.
   This first title in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s famous autobiographical books, will get readers of all ages well and truly hooked on the Little House series. Readers will long to know what happens next to this hardworking and loving family. Children will be amazed to read about how people like the Ingalls family had to manage with what they were able to grow, make, or hunt. They will be fascinated to read about how people in Laura’s world made their own cheese, got their “everyday” sugar from maple trees, and how children were not allowed to play or shout on Sundays.
   Garth Williams has created some wonderful black and white illustrations for this book, which capture the essence of Laura’s north woods life, and which give the reader a real sense of what it might have been like to live in a tiny cabin in an enormous forest.

0 Comments on July is classic books month on TTLG - Day twelve as of 1/1/1900
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24. Charlotte’s Web Cover Fetches High Price at Auction

Garth Williams‘ original graphite-and-ink cover for the E.B. White classic, Charlotte’s Web sold for $155k at auction. Altogether, 17 bids were made via internet, phone, and mail on the Heritage Auctions item.

Besides the original cover, another three items were included in the lot: “a 14 x 16.5 in. ink drawing of a web that was used to create the decorative end paper design for the book, and two 9 x 8 in. watercolors of the cover design.”

According to The Washington Post, the auction organizers originally estimated it would go for $30,000, but it exceeded expectations by more than 500 percent. 42 of Williams’ art pieces were sold in the same auction and in total, the collection grossed more than $780,000. The New York buyer for Charlotte’s Web preferred to remain anonymous.

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25. happy birthday, laura ingalls wilder!





Over the fence to the farmhouse,
With laughter and repartee gay,
It's almost time to be eating again
And we're rather too far away.
There's chicken and dumplings for dinner,
With salad and vegetables fine
And fruits just fresh from the orchard
Oh who wouldn't love to dine!
Over the fence to the farmhouse
We're afraid they will not wait
And with chicken and dumplings for dinner
Twould never do to be late.

~ Laura Ingalls Wilder


If ever a writer comes to mind when I think about "comfort and joy," it's Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Her Little House books provide lifetime nourishment with their ample stores of hope, optimism, familial love, strength, and enduring pioneer spirit. I'm quite certain at least 90% of you reading this post wanted to be Laura after reading her stories -- wanted to be the kind of girl who never compromised who she was, who possessed a singular determination and always ventured forth with a brave heart.

To celebrate her 144th birthday, I decided to try two of the recipes Laura often prepared while living at Rocky Ridge Farm in Mansfield, Missouri. They come from The Laura Ingalls Wilder Country Cookbook, a collection of 73 recipes adapted from the ones Laura pasted in a recycled scrapbook during the 30's and 40's. Besides recipes, notes, and meal ideas, she also saved clippings from newspaper food columns and cooking advice from both her mother, Caroline Ingalls, and her daughter, Rose Wilder Lane.

        
             Laura and Almanzo, 1885

Laura's cookbook is comfort personified -- old fashioned favorites which called for "foods gleaned from her kitchen garden and staples she kept in her cupboards: cornmeal, brown sugar, white sugar, spices, whole wheat flour, and white flour." Do Macaroni Casserole, Meat Loaf Supreme, Pork Pie with Sweet Potato Biscuits, Orange Nut Bread, Applesauce Cake, and Molasses Cookies conjure up visions of a wholly satisfying meal cooked in a wood-burning stove in a cozy farmhouse? Suffice to say, many of us today crave this brand of farm-to-table goodness, and experimenting with some of these old recipes might be the closest we'll ever get.

When I scanned the list of 19 Main Dishes, "Chicken and Dumplings" caught my eye. I admit a teensy obsession with dumplings in general, but I did want to try Laura's version for two primary reasons: 1) I never had this kind of dumplings growing up in Hawai'i, and 2) I wanted to compare her recipe with another I'm quite fond of. Besides, this was supposedly a favorite Sunday dinner for Laura and Almanzo. So yes, I made it on a Sunday to get the full effect ☺.



OLD-FASHIONED CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS
(6-8 servings)

1 large roasting or stewing chicken, cut in pieces
1 rib celery with leaves, cut fine
1 or 2 carrots, sliced thin
3 tsp. salt (divided use)
1/2 tsp. freshly grated pepper
1/2 tsp. mace
2 eggs
2/3 cup milk

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