Books Read in 2016: ‘Little House in the Big Woods’ by Laura Ingalls Wilder #amreading
Book Summary from Goodreads:
The first book in Laura Ingalls Wilder’s treasured Little House series—now available as an ebook! This digital version features Garth Williams’s classic illustrations, which appear in vibrant full color on a full-color device and in rich black-and-white on all other devices.
This beloved story of a pioneer girl and her family begins in 1871 in a log cabin on the edge of the Big Woods of Wisconsin. Four-year-old Laura lives in the little house with her Pa, her Ma, her sisters Mary and Carrie, and their dog, Jack. Pioneer life is sometimes hard for the family, but it is also exciting as they celebrate Christmas with homemade toys and treats, do the spring planting, bring in the harvest, and make their first trip into town. And every night Laura and her family are safe and warm in their little house, with the happy sound of Pa’s fiddle to send them off to sleep.
The nine Little House books are inspired by Laura’s own childhood and have been cherished by generations of readers as both a unique glimpse into America’s frontier history and as heartwarming, unforgettable stories.
As mentioned yesterday, I decided it was high time for me to do a re-read of the Little House on the Prairie books this year. It’s something I used to do every year . . . but recently that tradition has been replaced with re-reading most, if not all, of the Harry Potter books (on audio, usually as I’m going to sleep to give my brain something to focus on instead of being scattered and keeping me awake.) I have the original 1971 set (yes, it’s the same age I am) that we had growing up—the paperbacks with the yellow covers—but they’re so old and brittle that I’m afraid of damaging them further from their well-loved, well-read state. So I decided to go ahead and purchase the series (minus Farmer Boy and The First Four Years—neither of which I enjoy reading) as ebooks.
Little House in the Big Woods is set in 1871–2, opening when LIW was four, about to turn five, years old. As such, it’s much more of a conglomeration of disjointed memories rather than a narrative with a storyline, as we get in the more mature, subsequent books.
And that works fine. This was originally written with young children in mind; and, much like J. K. Rowling did many decades later, the books and their tone and subject matter mature right along with the main character as she ages through the series.That said, I did find myself skimming quite a bit of this book—the lyrics to all the songs, Pa’s stories that didn’t really go anywhere, the descriptions of all of the settings/food. While on a first or second reading these things might be fascinating (and especially to young readers/listeners who’ve never been exposed to descriptions of this way of life), in a book I’ve read umpteen times in my life, it was more of a matter of wanting to get through this one, which is not a favorite, so that I can move on to the other books in the series. (These Happy Golden Years is my favorite, so it will take me a while to get to that one.)
Still, this is a classic providing a glimpse into a bygone era which, yes, is romanticized both in this book and now, but which still holds both fascination and lessons for us in the 21st century.
If I had to pick a favorite anecdote from the book (and this will sound odd), it’s when Laura and Mary are picking up wood chips after their aunt’s visit and Mary tells Laura that everyone knows golden hair is prettier than brown hair—and Laura slaps her. Yes, she gets in trouble/disciplined for it, but then Pa takes her on his knee afterward. And when Laura asks him if he prefers golden curls to brown, he points out that he, too, has brown hair.
As a younger child with an older sister (whose hair was also “golden” as a child, and who was also very much like Mary) to whom I felt like I was compared all my life, I think this is where, even as a small child before I could really remember or figure out the reason why, I immediately identified and became lifelong “friends” with Laura “Half-Pint” Ingalls.
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