Little House in the Big Woods is the first book in the Little House series written by Laura Ingalls Wilder. It was first published in 1932. The story takes place when Laura is 4-5 years old. There is a Little House website that can be found here.
Genre: Historical Fiction, Children’s
“Meet Laura Ingalls, the little girl who would grow up to write the Little House books.
Wolves and panthers and bears roam the deep Wisconsin woods in the late 1870’s. In those same woods, Laura lives with Pa and Ma, and her sisters, Mary and Baby Carrie, in a snug little house built of logs. Pa hunts and traps. Ma makes her own cheese and butter. All night long, the wind howls lonesomely, but Pa plays the fiddle and sings, keeping the family safe and cozy.”
“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.”
“Ma was trembling, and she began to laugh a little. “To think,” she said, “I’ve slapped a bear!”
“Grandma stood by the brass kettle and with the big wooden spoon she poured hot syrup on each plate of snow. It cooled into soft candy, and as fast as it cooled they ate it.
They could eat all they wanted, for maple sugar never hurt anybody. There was plenty of syrup in the kettle, and plenty of snow outdoors. As soon as they ate one plateful, they filled their plates with snow again, and Grandma poured more syrup on it.”
“She [Laura] was glad that the cosy house, and Pa and Ma and the fire-light and the music, were now. They could not be forgotten, she thought, because now is now. It can never be a long time ago.”
Recommended Age Range: 10+
What I Liked:
What’s not to like? I love the 1800s and the pioneering period. I love Wilder’s descriptions. She explains how to churn butter and make cheese and maple syrup and hulled corn, among other things. She doesn’t just say “Pa built this,” she explains how he built it and with what materials. She doesn’t just say, “Ma cooked/made this,” she explains how and with what. It’s informational as well as entertaining.
I also love the attitudes/thought processes/way of life they had. “They could eat all they wanted, for maple sugar never hurt anybody” (Wilder 151). That’s not something we would say nowadays!
What I Didn’t Like:
Really, there’s nothing that I didn’t like. The writing is styled much more for younger children, but then Laura herself is young in this book. I have nothing to say against it.
This is a great book to read aloud to younger children. The writing is much more suited for children than for adults, but that doesn’t mean that adults can’t read it and enjoy it. It’s an age-old, ageless classic.
Coming Up Next: Little House on the Prairie