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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Laura Ingalls Wilder, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 48
1. These Happy Golden Years (1943)

These Happy Golden Years. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1943. HarperCollins. 289 pages. [Source: Library]

Why is it that reading These Happy Golden Years makes me giddy? Could it be my actual favorite of the series after all? Perhaps. It has been such a treat for me to reread these Little House books this past month. I've enjoyed visiting with Laura and her family. I've enjoyed watching 'the romance' unfold with Almanzo in Little Town on the Prairie and These Happy Golden Years.

In These Happy Golden Years Laura has accepted--for better or worse--that she is all grown up. In this book, she teaches several different schools. Each teaching term is short--a few months here, a few months there. Her first teaching position lasts eight weeks, and, it is mostly a nightmare for her. She's rooming with Mr. and Mrs. Brewster. And Mrs. Brewster must be suffering from some mental illness. I feel sorry for Mr. Brewster and their baby, Johnny. There's a helplessness in the situation. Laura realizes how blessed she's been for a happy home life. The opening chapters dwell on her homesickness and gratitude. And she owes much to Almanzo Wilder. For HE comes to "rescue" her from the Brewsters every single weekend no matter how cold the weather. And it all comes as such a surprise to her that she'll get to spend her weekends at home.

When she's not teaching school, she's attending it. Every few months, it seems, she receives an opportunity to teach and earn money, and she'll take a teacher's exam, and get another certificate. But teaching isn't the only way she's able to earn money. She really, truly wants to earn money, not for herself, but to help keep Mary in college.

Most of the book focuses on the courtship of Laura and Almanzo. How he comes to take her sledding or for buggy rides. Laura does love his horses.

I love this book! I do.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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2. Little Town on the Prairie

Little Town on the Prairie. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1941. 374 pages. [Source: Library]

 I enjoyed rereading Little Town on the Prairie. Is it completely perfect in every way? Probably not. (The idea of Pa joining in a minstrel show performance still doesn't sit well with me. Just like I don't like the dialogue of the Native American in The Long Winter--when he warns them of the winter ahead. But other than that, I don't have any real issue with the book). In this book:

  • The family moves back to their homestead for the summer and fall
  • The Ingalls get a cat AFTER Pa's hair is "cut" by mice in the night!
  • Laura gets a job assisting a seamstress
  • Laura and Carrie and Pa go to a fourth of July celebration; lemonade is involved
  • Blackbirds come and threaten numerous crops; some of the corn is saved and will be dried for winter consumption
  • Mary goes away to college
  • The family moves back to the town for the winter
  • Laura and Carrie attend school
  • Nellie Oleson is one of the 'country' girls attending school
  • Nellie becomes teacher's pet; the new teacher is Eliza Jane Wilder
  • Laura gets her first ride behind Almanzo's horses (she's running late for school, she had to order name cards)
  • A Literary Society (of sorts) is formed in town for the winter
  • The book actually covers TWO winters in town, but, we barely learn anything about the spring/summer/and fall in between the winters.
  • Laura attends several revival meetings and Almanzo asks to see her home each night!
  • Almanzo hints that he wants to take her sledding.
  • Laura gets her teaching certificate
Plenty of lovely things happen. I love the progression of the series. This book just makes me smile as I'm reading it. I often forget just how much I like this one since I love, love, love THE LONG WINTER, and I always associate These Happy Golden Years with having THE romance. I don't give this one enough credit for being OH-SO-GOOD.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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3. The Long Winter

The Long Winter. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Illustrated by Garth Williams. 1940. 335 pages. [Source: Library]

Out of all the Little House books, I probably reread the Long Winter most. There is just something about it that I love. The book opens with the Ingalls family preparing reasonably for the coming winter. Their plans don't take into account an early winter, a long winter, and a hard winter. Once there was a touch of winter in October, it was there to stay. The "good" weather being merely not-currently-in-a-four-day-blizzard. Some days the Ingalls and their neighbors are blessed with two days in between blizzards.

So, to begin back at the beginning, the Ingalls family moves to town after the first blizzard in October. It becoming obvious to Ma and Pa that they likely would not survive if they stayed at their claim. They take what provisions they've got, and everyone moves to town. But the provisions that they've got, that they've carefully planned and prepared won't be enough under these conditions. No one foresaw that there would be no trains coming to town during the winter months bringing food and fuel and such. Every person in town feels the stress of it. How will they survive? Will they survive?

This is the book where Laura and Almanzo first meet.

I love the intensity of this one. It's a book you experience. The cold. The hunger. The angst. 

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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4. I’ll show you WINTER.


by Watie White, http://watiewhite.com

Seasonally enough, last night I attended Blizzard of Voices, an oratorio by Paul Moravec (husband to your friend and mine Wendy Lamb). While you might have thought the warm and woody Jordan Hall would have been an oasis in Boston’s horrible weather, Moravec’s commemoration of the 1888 Schoolhouse Blizzard was terrible–in the exactest sense–in its evocation of the wind and cold and terror and death that swept over the Great Plains and killed more than two hundred people.

Taken from Ted Kooser‘s book of the same name, the work’s texts were beautifully shared shared among a chorus and six soloists:

We finally had to dig
Down into a drift, wrapping
the blanket around us. Billy
died in the night. I thought he
was only asleep. At dawn,
I dug out, finding that we
Were in the sight of the homeplace.

And with the orchestra thundering–and more ominously, insinuating–away, it really felt like voices from a storm, meteorological and otherwise.

Am I the only person who thought this was, historically, the same storm the Ingalls family endured in The Long Winter? Nope–Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book covers events of eight years earlier. Debbie Reese and I got into it a bit  a couple of weeks ago about that book, and while I take her point about the objectionable stereotyping of American Indians therein, I’m not ready to give The Long Winter up. The way it turns winter-wonderland fantasy into nightmare is unparalleled and as keenly evoked as what I heard last night.

After the concert was over, I discovered that my bus, which is supposed to show up every ten minutes, wasn’t due to arrive for at least half an hour. I started to think that the Boston winter of 2015 was Just Like Back Then, but then I slapped myself hard.



The post I’ll show you WINTER. appeared first on The Horn Book.

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5. Revisiting On the Banks of Plum Creek (1937)

On the Banks of Plum Creek. Laura Ingalls Wilder. 1937. 340 pages. [Source: Library]

I love Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House series. I do. And On the Banks of Plum Creek, while not my absolute favorite--that would be The Long Winter or possibly These Happy Golden Years--is worth rereading every few years. One thing I hadn't noticed until this last reread is that the Ingalls' family celebrates three Christmases in this one book!

Plenty of things happen in On The Banks of Plum Creek:
  • the family moves into a sod house
  • the family moves into a wooden house with real glass windows
  • the family gets oxen and horses
  • the girls start school
  • the family attends church
  • crops are planted and lost
  • Pa leaves the family behind twice to go in search of work
  • hard weather is endured
  • Laura gets in and out of trouble (she almost drowns in this one)
The book is enjoyable and satisfying. I love the illustrations by Garth Williams. I remember them just as well as I do the text itself.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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6. Laura Ingalls Wilder Gets a Google Doodle For Her Birthday

Laura Ingalls Wilder Google Doodle

Google has created a Doodle to celebrate Laura Ingalls Wilder’s 148th birthday. The image features Wilder and her older sister Mary Ingalls. Follow this link to learn more about the creative process behind this piece.

In the past, Google has crafted Doodles in honor of Pride & Prejudice author Jane Austenpoet Langston Hughes, Russian writer Leo Tolstoytwo-time Caldecott Medal winner Maurice Sendakscience-fiction novelist Douglas Adams, and more. Here’s a video from Google headquarters spotlighting the artists behind the doodles. Which authors would you suggest as future Doodle subjects? (via The Independent)

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7. 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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8. 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?


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9. 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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10. 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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11. 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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12. 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/

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13. Let’s hear it for My Naughty Little Sister! - by Emma Barnes

I’m always surprised when people compare my books to those by other authors. Not because I think I’m so dazzlingly original (in fact, when I go into schools, my answer to that question “But how do you get ideas?” is usually “I get ideas because over the years I’ve read a lot of books!”) but because the comparisons aren’t usually the authors or books I would have thought of. So when somebody mentioned to me that Wild Thing reminded them of Dorothy Hughes’s classic My Naughty Little Sister stories, first I was surprised, then I thought it was time to dig out a copy and see for myself. 

My Naughty Little Sister was first written for BBC Radio’s Children Hour. Perhaps this is why they are such wonderful read-alouds. I’ve heard some adults claim that the strong narrative voice is rather too cosy ("And what do you think My Naughty Little Sister did next...") and therefore annoying. Personally, I think this is what makes the stories so perfect for young children, guiding them through the stories (I’d recommend My Naughty Little Sister as a first read-aloud when moving onto chapter books). But then I do like a strong narrative voice (the Narnia books are another example where some find the narrator intrusive, but I find it confiding, and entertaining). 

There is a lovely nostalgia about My Naughty Little Sister, too. I think this is because not only do the stories now seem very quaint and long-ago, but even when Dorothy Edwards was writing them she was remembering a past time (her own childhood, and her own naughty little sister). So such details as washing day are lovingly portrayed, in a way they maybe wouldn’t be if they were contemporary to the reader, and therefore taken for granted. (In this way they remind me a little of Laura Ingall’s Wilder’s Little House books, in capturing the domestic details of a distant time.) 

I’m also envious, not only of the apparent safety of that long ago time, but also the freedom it gives a writer to give her child character adventures. My Naughty Little Sister is only four, but she can go on a train ride all by herself (with only the guard to keep an occasional eye on her). She can also travel from home under her own steam, and at one point is sent spontaneously to spend a day with her older sister at school. How much harder to construct real-life adventures now that young children always have to be supervised! 

Most all, though, the charm of the stories is in the character of My Naughty Little Sister herself. The stories may feel old fashioned, but they are never preachy or moralistic. My Naughty Little Sister thinks for herself. If the family has to look after a baby for the day, she really doesn’t see why she should pretend to like babies, just because it’s the done thing. And she makes friends with all kinds of unlikely people, grown up or child, because she responds to them honestly and directly. 

Her character, I think, is brilliantly portrayed in the illustrations by Shirley Hughes. 

So, even if I still don’t get the comparison with my own books, I certainly feel the compliment! And if you’re looking to escape into a young child’s world, in a gentler, cosier time, I’d recommend My Naughty Little Sister.

Emma's new series for 8+ Wild Thing about the naughtiest little sister ever (and her bottom-biting ways) is out now from Scholastic. 
"Hilarious and heart-warming" The Scotsman

 Wolfie is published by Strident.   Sometimes a Girl’s Best Friend is…a Wolf. 
"A real cracker of a book" Armadillo 
"Funny, clever and satisfying...thoroughly recommended" Books for Keeps

Emma's Website
Emma’s Facebook Fanpage
Emma on Twitter - @EmmaBarnesWrite

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14. Tough Stuff in Children’s Books

The Guardian recently published an article stating that Laura Ingalls Wilder’s book Pioneer Girl will be released soon. In the book, Wilder wrote about her childhood growing up in the 1800s on the frontier. Pioneer Girl was rejected by publishers, so Wilder rewrote it and sold the resulting stories as the now-famous Little House on the Prairie books. Publishers had deemed parts of Pioneer Girl unfit for children, such as the story of a drunken man who accidentally killed himself when trying to light a cigar and having the liquor on his breath catch fire and the story of a shopkeeper who dragged his wife around by the hair and set their bedroom on fire.

I’m sure Wilder really witnessed these horrific events and felt compelled to include them in Pioneer Girl when trying to accurately relate her life on the frontier. The reality is that children around the world face tough stuff like this. Those who make it to adulthood completely untouched by violence or other ugly behaviors must be few and far between. We can’t completely protect children, but should writers for children include such tough stuff in their stories?

I’m torn on this. For children who are living in tough situations, maybe it helps to read about other children in similar situations. They might be able to identify with characters more and feel more inclined to read about children who are struggling about bigger issues than finding a lost bike or securing a date for prom.

On the other hand, maybe a child in a tough situation would give anything to get away from that, even if it’s just the temporary escape of a light read.

I’ve written about both the tough stuff and the light and found the light stuff (especially humor) easier to sell. I think publishers are more receptive of the tough stuff (often even welcome it) in young adult books but are less receptive of it in books for younger children. A big part of the decision has to be about how the writer handles the topic and why. What is the point in exposing a child to ugliness or violence? I think a writer who chooses to tackle tough stuff in children’s books should offer hope to the reader or some possibility of resolution in the end.

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15. Little Author in the Big Woods by Yona Zeldis McDonough

little author“Once upon a time, sixty years ago, a little girl lived in the Big Woods of Wisconsin, in a little gray house made of logs.”  This sentence opens Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder, the first in a series of children’s books that gave middle grade readers a glimpse into the life of America’s pioneer families. And for some–like myself–this would be the start of a lifelong desire to learn more about the real life of Laura, her sisters Mary, Carrie, and Grace, and her parents Charles and Caroline Ingalls.

In a style similar to the  Little House books, author Yona Zeldis McDonough has created a biography of Laura Ingalls Wilder aimed toward middle grade readers that not only helps point out the fact and the fiction behind Wilder’s classic children’s books, but also celebrates the independent mind of the Quiner and Ingalls women along the way.

McDonough’s book opens not with Wilder, but with a brief prologue discussing the life of Caroline Lake Quiner, who would one day become Caroline Ingalls. This sets the tone for the rest of this biography, as it highlights how Caroline’s mother, Charlotte, believed in higher education for girls; something Ma Ingalls also wanted for her daughters.

Told in chronological order, Little Author in the Big Woods follows Wilder’s life and the journeys she took not only with her family, but later with her husband Almanzo and daughter Rose. It talks about the hardships the Wilders faced as a young married couple and of their leaving De Smet, South Dakota to settle in Mansfield, Missouri. Readers learn about the building of the dream house on Rocky Ridge Farm and Wilder’s early career writing for the Missouri Ruralist, before moving on to the creation of the Little House series. McDonough ends with an epilogue that discusses the longevity of Wilder’s work and Michael Landon’s classic television show, Little House on the Prairie, which is based upon the books. Readers are also treated to quotes from Laura Ingalls Wilder, details on some of the games that Laura played, crafts, and recipes. Also included is a list of other writings by Wilder and a list with some of the other books about her.

While I have to admit I learned little new about Laura Ingalls Wilder as a result, I believe middle grade readers will enjoy getting to know more about her real life and the independent nature of the women in the Quiner, Ingalls, and Wilder families. With a similar writing style and design to the Little House series, readers will feel right at home with this book. Jennifer Thermes did an excellent job in capturing the essence of McDonough’s book and Wilder’s life with her beautiful illustrations. I’m thrilled to add Little Author in the Big Woods to my Laura Ingalls Wilder collection.


Rating: :) :) :) :) :)

Age Range: 8 – 12 years
Grade Level: 3 – 7
Series: Christy Ottaviano Books
Hardcover: 176 pages
Publisher: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR); First Edition edition (September 16, 2014)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 080509542X
ISBN-13: 978-0805095425

I received a copy of this book from the author. This review contains my honest opinions, which I have not been compensated for in any way.

1 Comments on Little Author in the Big Woods by Yona Zeldis McDonough, last added: 10/27/2014
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16. Classic MG Readalong: Farmer Boy

Hello, friends! Welcome to this month’s classics readalong discussion, where we’ll be gleefully chatting about Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder. For those new to the series, this is a standalone historical fiction novel based on true people and events, written by the author about her husband’s boyhood on his family’s farm in the late 1800s. A reminder: You have ONE MONTH left to finish your classics readalong challenge for this year! Have you read and reviewed 8 books yet? Are you going to be able to? A little more on that below, plus info on the December/January books. We have so much pie to eat talk about, though, that we should just get started on our discussion! Wendy: I wanted to do this one for our readalong because it’s a nice standalone–plus it’s my favorite of the series! (Followed by The Long Winter, but for very different reasons–this one’s... Read more »

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17. Gayle Forman & Laura Ingalls Wilder Debut on the Indie Bestseller List

I Was HereWe’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending February 01, 2015–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.

(Debuted at #6 in Children’s Interest) I Was Here by Gayle Forman: “When her best friend, Meg, drinks a bottle of industrial-strength cleaner alone in a motel room, Cody is understandably shocked and devastated. She and Meg shared everything—so how was there no warning? But when Cody travels to Meg’s college town to pack up the belongings left behind, she discovers that there’s a lot that Meg never told her.” (January 2015)

(Debuted at #7 in Hardcover Nonfiction) Pioneer Girl by Laura Ingalls Wilder: “The Pa of Pioneer Girl is still a selfless provider, Ma is a skilled homemaker, Mary a prim playmate, and Laura a good-hearted tomboy. Their stories may have been tidied up on the path between nonfiction and fiction, but their characters remain reassuringly intact.” (December 2014)

(Debuted at #8 in Hardcover Fiction) Private Vegas by James Patterson & Maxine Paetro: “Las Vegas is a city of contradictions: seedy and glamorous, secretive and wild, Vegas attracts people of all kinds–especially those with a secret to hide, or a life to leave behind. It’s the perfect location for Lester Olsen’s lucrative business. He gets to treat gorgeous, young women to five-star restaurants, splashy shows, and limo rides–and then he teaches them how to kill.” (January 2015)

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18. Stereotypes in Wilder's THE LONG WINTER

Earlier today, I saw a post on Facebook in which a person said, of Wilder's The Long Winter, "this is the only book that can put what's happening in Boston in perspective. It could be worse, wicked worse."

The woman who wrote that post must think she's being clever, comparing the blizzard in Boston to the one in The Long Winter. 

If you care about accuracy in how Native peoples are depicted, or if you care about how derogatory depictions of Native people impact the growing minds of Native and non-Native children, then I think we'd agree that it is long past time to set aside that series.

Because of their status and 
place of nostalgia in the minds 
of so many Americans, 
few books for children are as wicked 
as those in the Little House on the Prairie series.

Ah---you say, 'there were Indians in The Long Winter?'

Yes. The chapter called "Indian Warning" has a very old Indian man in it. Here's from page 61:
"Heap big snow come," this Indian said.
As he gestured, the blanket he is wearing slides off his shoulder and his "naked brown arm" came out. He continues:
"Heap big snow, big wind," he said.
Pa asks him how long, and of course he says "Many moons" and holds up four, and then three fingers that mean seven months of blizzards.
"You white men," he said. "I tell-um you."
On page 186, the wind grows louder and louder. It reminds Laura of the "Indian war whoops" when Indians were doing "war dances" by the Verdigris River when she was younger.

See what I mean? Stereotypes. Set it aside.

0 Comments on Stereotypes in Wilder's THE LONG WINTER as of 2/14/2015 10:33:00 PM
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19. 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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20. 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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21. 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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22. 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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23. 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.”


New Career Opportunities Daily: The best jobs in media.

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24. 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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25. 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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