Saturday, May 7, 2011

Little Town on the Prairie - Laura Ingalls Wilder

Summary:  The long hard winter was over.  The people of De Smet, South Dakota, came outdoors and began to live again.  They held church socials, dances, and "literaries."  In the summer, Laura took a grueling job -- making shirts, through long hard hours.  She wanted the money to help send Mary to the college for the blind in Vinton, Iowa.  Suddenly, Laura was a young lady.  And who but the dashing Almanzo Wilder escorted her home in the evenings!  (Summary from book - Image from www.littlehouse.wikia )

My Review:  After the long winter, the Ingalls family moves back out onto their claim for the summer and Laura spends the time studying for her teachers certificate and working in town to help pay for Mary's education.  In the fall, a plague of blackbird plagues leads to lost crops but ample blackbird pie. 

When winter rolls around again, the claim shanty isn't ready to weather the storm, so the family moves back to town and the girls become "city girls".  Laura is growing up.  Before long, she gets invited to parties and sociables,  and even begins paying attention to fads, fashion, and (gasp) boys.  My girls were particularly interested in the reappearance of mean-spirited Nellie Oleson, and the problems with the new school teacher (who also happens to be Almanzo Wilder's sister).  My eldest thought it was hysterical that Laura got to ride in Almanzo's buggy instead of a certain snobby schoolmate who shall remain nameless.

Despite my love for this series, there were a few things that I didn't like about this book.  Because Laura is more interested in clothing and looking fashionable, there were many times that clothing was described down to the most minute detail.  Bo-ring.  My kids couldn't picture it and didn't much care.   Also, towards the end of the book, the Ingalls family attends a literary where several men paint their faces black, dress up as "darkies" and put on a show.  Definitely not the most P.C. moment in Little House history, as the word "darkies" was used a number of times.  I just substituted the word "performers" and read quickly.  My children also didn't understand the church revival at all and I think were a little distressed by all the yelling. 

My five-year-old has all but detached herself from this series now, choosing instead to look at other books while I read to her older sister.  I suppose that Laura has grown up too fast for her, but my seven-year-old still begs me to read and dissolves into giggles the moment Almanzo's name is mentioned.  When we finished this one (without her sister) she gleefully ran downstairs to get "These Happy Golden Year" proclaiming that "Laura and Almanzo are going to get married in this one."  Should I be worried?  I mean, she's seven.

My Rating: 3.75 Stars

Sum it up:  A welcome reprieve from The Long Winter, with some interesting description of town life.

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