Series Week I: Little Town on the Prairie

Little Town on the Prairie is the seventh book in the Little House series. It was first published in 1941. Laura is 14-15.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Children’s

Cover Art

Summary/Blurb:

“The long winter is over. With spring come socials, parties, and “Literaries.” There is also work to be done. Laura spends many hours each day sewing shirts to help send Mary to a college for the blind. But in the evenings, Laura makes time for a new caller, Almanzo Wilder.”

~Back Cover

Passages/Quotes:

“Quickly Laura multiplied in her head. That was a dollar and a half a week, a little more than six dollars a month. If she worked hard and pleased Mrs. White, maybe she could work all summer. She might earn fifteen dollars, maybe even twenty, to help send Mary to college.

She did not want to work in town, among strangers. But she couldn’t refuse a chance to earn maybe fifteen dollars, or ten, or five.”

~Wilder 37

“Going to school is lots of fun,

From laughing we have gained a ton,

We laugh until we have a pain,

At LAZY, LOUSY, LIZY JANE!”

~Wilder 174

Warnings: None.

Recommended Age Range: 10+

Rating: 5/5

Original Cover

What I Liked:

I love this book. At the end of this series I’ll make a post where I list my favorite books in order, but I’ll say right now that this is pretty high up on the list. There is so much activity in this book, so much entertainment. It contains several of my favorite scenes in the whole series: Laura rocking the school bench, Almanzo driving Laura to school, Almanzo seeing Laura home, the spelling bee, the “Literaries”…I could go on and on. And yet it’s not all fun and games—Mary goes to college and the void in the family is palpable. Laura must study to be a schoolteacher though she doesn’t want to be and struggles with her feelings on the matter.

Replica of claim shanty built on the actual claim

 I mentioned in Farmer Boy Wilder’s penchant for describing food; in these books she describes dresses a great deal. And they’re very pretty dresses!

Nellie Olson returns! She’s so deliciously catty.

This book also contains two instances of “illustrations” (though I hesitate to call them that, hence the quotations) where I believe the actual document was used. One is Ma’s poem in Laura’s autograph book (whereas all the others are simply written in the same font as the rest of the book, Ma’s has handwriting, date, and place, which gives it an air of authentication) and the other is Laura’s certificate of teaching. I don’t know about the poem, but from this site I learned that Wilder copied the information from the actual certificate.

Almanzo and Laura officially start “dating,” if you can call it that, in this book. I’ve always wanted to know his PoV on the matter—why did he start “seeing her home”? It’s not like he had much contact with her. Perhaps Eliza Jane’s stories about her “disrupting” the school endeared her to him.

The Ingalls’ house in town where they stayed in The Long Winter

What I Didn’t Like:

Nitpicky: The back cover reads, “But in the evenings, Laura makes time for a new caller, Almanzo Wilder.” This makes it sound as if this is ongoing through the book. LIES. Almanzo doesn’t actually see Laura home until page 278 (to put this in prospective, there are 307 pages in the whole novel). He is, however, a constant fixture in the book, mostly because Laura loves his horses and keeps noticing them.

Overall Review:

Another Newbery Honor richly deserved. Seriously, I don’t know why you wouldn’t read this book. It’s funny, it’s cute, it’s sad in all the right places. Simply speaking, it’s wonderful.

Coming Up Next: These Happy Golden Years

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