Sunday, February 13, 2011

By the Shores of Silver Lake - Laura Ingalls Wilder

Summary:  The Ingalls family had fared badly in Plum Creek, Minnesota.  They were in debt.  Mary was blind now.  So Pa went West to work at a railroad camp in Dakota Territory where he could make as much as fifty dollars a month!  Then he sent for his wife and four children, and they became the first settlers in the new town of De Smet.  But the railroad brought hordes of land-hungry people from the East.  Had Pa waited too long to file his homestead claim?  (Summary from book - Image from wikipedia.org )

My Review:  By the Shores of Silver Lake starts on a sad note with the news that Mary has gone blind from scarlet fever. My daughters had barely had time to process this tragedy before the family’s beloved dog Jack died, and they did not bear the news well. There were many tears and a few declarations of “I (sob) HATE this book!” Despite the rocky start, it wasn’t long before my eldest was stumbling around the house with her eyes closed (pretending to be Mary) and they were begging me to read to them again. It helped that there was a new addition to the family, in the form of baby Grace, and that the Ingalls family soon left Plum Creek for another adventure in Dakota Territory.

In this section of the Little House series, Laura, a young lady of thirteen, moves with her family a record total of five times as they leave Plum Creek and all around the Dakota Territory, finally settling on a claim outside the town of De Smet. These environmental changes, ranging from a temporary shanty to an unfinished shop, kept the story moving and always provided a new area for my children’s imaginations. They loved reading about life in a railroad camp, thrilled at Laura’s adventures on the shores of Silver Lake, and marveled when the Ingalls family woke up in a half-finished building with a foot of snow on their beds. Throw in a few angry mobs and you’ve got a story that will captivate both young and old.

My Rating: 4.5 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There were a few small paragraphs that conveyed negative stereotypes of Native Americans, but I managed to gloss over them without incident

Sum it up:  Best read within the context of the series, By the Shores of Silver Lake tells the fascinating tale of one family’s adventures as they journey from Minnesota to Dakota Territory. Each location offered a variety of new experiences that kept my young readers interested.

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