Series Week I: Wrap-Up of Little House

Series Rating: 5/5

And so the first ever Series Week draws to a close!

First of all, I have to say that I appreciate Wilder’s writing style a lot more than I did when I was little. I found that it very skillfully wrapped up the reader into the storyline and it matured with the characters. The difference between Big Woods and Golden Years is quite noticeable. Wilder became more experienced with writing and used that experience to improve the series. Usually when I read a series, I’ve noticed that it takes a downward plunge; the first book is usually the best. However, the opposite is true in this case. Little House is an upward slope, each book significantly better than the last. That’s what I love about the series. Each book just gets better and better.

As I promised, here is how I rank the books, from most favorite to least:

1.) Little Town on the Prairie

2.) These Happy Golden Years

3.) Farmer Boy

4.) The Long Winter

5.) By the Shores of Silver Lake

6.) On the Banks of Plum Creek

7.) Little House in the Big Woods

8.) Little House on the Prairie

Little Town and Golden Years are very close, but Little Town wins out because almost all of my favorite scenes are in it.

I hope all of you enjoyed my reviews of the Little House books; I know I enjoyed reading and writing about them! I’m returning to my regular schedule (Tuesdays and Fridays) starting on Tuesday with The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley. See you then!

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Series Week I: These Happy Golden Years

 These Happy Golden Years is the eighth book in the Little House series. It’s not technically the last book because of The First Four Years, but as I mentioned in the very first blog post, I will not be reviewing The First Four Years. These Happy Golden Years was first published in 1943. Laura is 15-19.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Children’s

Cover Art

Summary/Blurb:

“Laura is teaching school, and it’s terrifying! Most of the students are taller than she is, and she must sleep away from home for the first time. Laura is miserable, but the money is needed to keep Mary in a college for the blind. And every Friday—no matter what the weather—Almanzo Wilder arrives to take Laura home to her family for the weekend. Laura and Almanzo are courting, and even though she’s not yet sixteen, she knows that this is a time for new beginnings.”

~Back Cover

Passages/Quotes:

“To tell you the whole truth,” he [Almanzo] said, “I was in two minds about risking that trip. I figured all week I’d drive out for you, but when I looked at the thermometer I came pretty near deciding against it.”

“Why didn’t you?” Laura asked.

“Well, I was starting out in the cutter, and I pulled up in front of Fuller’s to look at the thermometer. The mercury was all down in the bulb, below forty, and the wind blowing colder every minute. Just then Cap Garland came by. He saw me there, ready to go out to Brewster’s for you, and looking at the thermometer. So he looked at it, and you know how he grins? Well, as he was going on into Fuller’s, he just said to me over his shoulder, ‘God hates a coward.’”

“So you came because you wouldn’t take a dare?” Laura asked.

“No, it wasn’t a dare,” Almanzo said. “I just figured he was right.”

~Wilder 77

Replica of the first school Laura taught

“I never rode in a lazy-back buggy before. The back isn’t quite as high as the plain wooden ones, is it?”

“Maybe this will make it better,” Almanzo said, laying his arm along the top of the back. He was not exactly hugging Laura, but his arm was against her shoulders. She shrugged, but his arm did not move away. So she leaned forward, and shook the buggy whip where it stood in the whipsocket on the dashboard. The colts jumped forward and broke into a run.

“You little devil!” Almanzo exclaimed, as he closed his hands on the lines and braced his feet. He needed both hands to control those colts.”

~Wilder 166

Warnings: None.

Recommended Age Range: 10+

Rating: 5/5

Original Cover

What I Liked:

Almanzo Wilder. Almanzo Wilder. Almanzo Wilder. I would love for somebody to write a book/fanfiction/whatever exploring his POV throughout his courtship with Laura. If someone did it for Pride & Prejudice, then someone can jolly well do it for Little House (although P&P is a fictional novel and Little House is based on actual events).

I love Laura in this book. She’s grown and matured so much. I especially love the scene with Nellie Olson and Laura in the buggy with Almanzo. Laura is just so deliciously sneaky. But she shows a great deal of growth in her conversations and even her thoughts. This is still very much a book for children, but it has an adult flavor to it since Laura is now an adult. This is perhaps why these last few books are among my favorites, because the tone has shifted slightly to include a broader audience and to match the characters themselves. Laura and Mary and all the rest are growing up and moving on, and the book shows that. That, I believe, is Wilder’s strong point: that parallel of writing style and character.

The dress descriptions are fantastic. Wilder describes everything from bustles to hoops to petticoats, and all of it sounds very pretty and very complicated.

What I Didn’t Like:

I wish there was a bit more to it. More emotion, more…something. I think I’m just used to reading 21st century books. Also, time flies in this book; it covers about 4 years in 289 pages, which probably explains why I felt like more.

The book ended. Now I am sad because there’s no more left to read. But it’s a fulfilling sadness, so this is perhaps a “Like” as well.

Laura & Almanzo Wilder

Overall Review:

Wilder finishes up the series with a book that once again shows her ability to make a story like its characters. These Happy Golden Years is Wilder’s fourth Newbery Honor book and it is richly deserved with a happy, fulfilling end for the series.

Coming Up Next: I wrap up the series!

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

Series Week I: The Long Winter

The Long Winter is the sixth book in the Little House series. It was first published in 1940. Laura is 13-14.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Children’s

Cover Art

Summary/Blurb:

“The first terrible storm comes to the barren prairie in October. Then it snows almost without stopping until April. Snow has reached the rooftops, and no trains can get through with food or coal. The people of De Smet are starving, including Laura’s family, who wonder how they’re going to make it through this terrible winter. It is young Almanzo Wilder who finally understands what needs to be done. He must save the town, even if it means risking his own life.”

~Back Cover

Passages/Quotes:

“Pa was shaking his head. “We’re going to have a hard winter,” he said, not liking the prospect.

“Why, how do you know?” Laura asked in surprise.

“The colder the winter will be, the thicker the muskrats build the walls of their houses,” Pa told her. “I never saw a heavier-built muskrats’ house than that one.”

~Wilder 12

“Laura took the coffee mill from Carrie. It worried her to see how thin and white Carrie was, and so exhausted from grinding. But even worry was dull and farther away than the hateful ceaseless pounding of the storm. The coffee mill’s handle ground round and round, it must not stop. It seemed to make her part of the whirling winds driving the snow round and round over the earth and in the air, whirling and beating at Pa on his way to the stable, whirling and shrieking at the lonely houses, whirling the snow between them and up to the sky and far away, whirling forever over the endless prairie.”

~Wilder 254

Warnings: None.

Recommended Age Range: 10+

Rating: 4/5

Original Cover

What I Liked:

I am torn about this book. Sometimes I see it as boring and repetitive and other times I am in awe of Wilder’s continual growth as a writer. It is a little dull in some parts—but that’s the point! Imagine how dull it must be to sit day after day in a house with a blizzard raging outside, with nothing to do but twist hay into firewood and grind wheat in a coffee mill and be continually cold, with one day of freezing rest in between the storms. Wilder created a work of genius here. The reader feeling a bit bored by the Ingalls’ sitting in their room perfectly mirrors what the Ingalls’ themselves felt.

3-day blizzards=lots of snow

There is so much crammed into this book. Pa’s astuteness in getting more wheat for his family, Almanzo and Cap Garland’s daring and suspenseful (a great move by Wilder) trip to save the town, the Ingalls’ determination to survive and to not give up, their celebration in April when the snow finally stops…these are only a few of the great moments in this book. It’s another Newbery Honor, and The Long Winter fully deserves it. As I think I’ve said before, the last three books are by far the best in the series.

Oh, and Laura meets Almanzo for the first time in this book. I’ll discuss their relationship more in the last two books when it becomes more pronounced.

What I Didn’t Like:

Like I mentioned above, it can be a bit dull in places.

The trains got stuck in the drifts and couldn’t get through; thus, no food

Overall Review:

The Long Winter is, in my opinion, a work of literary genius and a promise for even more good things to come. Wilder once again shows her skill in drawing the reader into the story. There are some great moments that happen despite the occasional dullness.

Coming Up Next: Little Town on the Prairie

Series Week I: By the Shores of Silver Lake

By the Shores of Silver Lake is the fifth book in the Little House series. It was first published in 1939. Laura is 12. There is a three-year gap between Plum Creek and Silver Lake, the events of which are described in Old Town in the Green Groves by Cynthia Rylant.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Children’s

Cover Art

Summary/Blurb:

“Pa Ingalls heads west to the unsettled wilderness of the Dakota Territory. When Ma, Mary, Laura, Carrie, and baby Grace join him, they become the first settlers in the town of De Smet. And Pa begins work on the first building in what will soon be a brand-new town on the shores of Silver Lake.”

~Back Cover

Passages/Quotes:

“The brakeman helped unfasten the engine from the train. The fireman, all red and smeared with soot, leaned out of the engine to watch. Then he yanked a bell rope. The engine went on by itself, puffing and chuffing under the bell’s clanging. It went only a little way, then it stopped, and Laura could not believe what she saw. The steel rails under the engine, and the wooden ties between them, turned right around. They turned around in a circle there on the ground till the ends of the rails fitted together again, and the engine was facing backwards.

Laura was so amazed that she could not tell Mary what was happening. The engine went clanging and puffing on another track beside the train. It passed the train and went a little way beyond. The bell clanged, men shouted and made motions with their arms, and the engine came backing, bump! into the rear end of the rain. All the cars slam-banged against each other. And there stood the train and the engine, facing back towards the east.”

~Wilder 29-30

“Oh, what beautiful horses!” Laura cried. “Look, Pa! Look!” She turned her head to watch them as long as she could. They drew a light wagon. A young man stood up in the wagon, driving, and a taller man stood behind him with a hand on his shoulder. In a moment the backs of the men and the wagon loomed up so that Laura could no longer see the horses.

Pa had turned around in the seat to watch them too. “Those are the Wilder boys,” he said. “Almanzo’s driving, and that’s his brother Royal with him. They’ve taken up claims north of town, and they’ve got the finest horses in this whole country. By George, you seldom see a team like that.”

With all her heart Laura wished for such horses. She supposed she could never have them.”

~Wilder 262

Original Cover

Warnings: None.

Recommended Age Range: 10+

Rating: 4/5

What I Liked:

The second half of this book I like much better than the first half. Once they reach the surveyor’s house, the book is much better in my opinion (in fact, once the Ingalls reach De Smet the whole series really picks up) as Pa worries about his claim, the town of De Smet starts to grow, the Boasts are introduced, and the Ingalls must deal with numerous boarders. We get a first glimpse of Almanzo Wilder at the end of the book, and of course Laura just notices the horses. Wilder portrays the claim rush of that period well when Pa must hurry to file his claim before anyone else can get his spot and almost gets into a fight because of it. The Boasts are a great addition and I wish that Wilder had brought them back more. There is tension caused by Mary’s blindness and Laura’s resigned attitude towards becoming a school teacher (“I don’t want to, but I must”). The Little House books really start to become great at this point.

The Surveyor’s House

What I Didn’t Like:

The first half is simply blah. Lena is annoying and a bad influence.

Overall Review:

The second half of By the Shores of Silver Lake outshines the first. This book deserves the Newbery Honor it received. It is a great lead-up to the remaining books.

Coming Up Next: The Long Winter

Series Week I: On the Banks of Plum Creek

On the Banks of Plum Creek is the fourth book in the Little House series. It was first published in 1937. Laura is 7-9.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Children’s

Cover Art

Summary/Blurb:

“Laura’s family’s first home in Minnesota is made of sod, but Pa builds a clean new house made of sawed lumber beside Plum Creek. The money for materials will come from their first wheat crop. Then, just before the wheat is ready to harvest, a strange glittering cloud fills the sky, blocking out the sun. Soon millions of grasshoppers cover the field and everything on the farm. In a week’s time, there is no wheat crop left at all.”

~Back Cover

Passages/Quotes:

“All around that door green vines were growing out of the grassy bank, and they were full of flowers. Red and blue and purple and rosy-pink and white and striped flowers all had their throats wide open as if they were singing glory to the morning. They were morning-glory flowers. Laura went under those singing flowers into the dugout. It was one room, all white. The earth walls had been smoothed and white-washed. The earth floor was smooth and hard…The ceiling was made of hay. Willow boughs had been laid across and their branches woven together, but here and there the hay that had been spread on them showed though.”

~Wilder 10-11

Historical Sign

“A cloud was over the sun. It was not like any cloud they had ever seen before. It was a cloud of something like snowflakes, but they were larger than snowflakes, and thin and glittering. Light shone through each flickering particle….

Plunk! Something hit Laura’s head and fell to the ground. She looked down and saw the largest grasshopper she had ever seen. Then huge brown grasshoppers were hitting the ground all around her, hitting her head and her face and her arms. They came thudding down like hail.

The cloud was hailing grasshoppers. The cloud was grasshoppers.”

~Wilder 194

Warnings: None.

Recommended Age Range: 10+

Rating: 3/5

Original Cover Art

What I Liked:

Wilder depicts the most intense struggle to date (and the harshest until The Long Winter) as the Ingalls deal with the grasshoppers in Minnesota eating the wheat crop that is their living. Wheat is money, and Wilder has her characters repeat often that having a good wheat crop means a good house, new shoes and dresses, and candy to eat every day instead of only on Christmas. Pa builds a framehouse with glass windows and a new stove and buys horses, all bought on the condition and the promise of a bumper crop of wheat. And it is all the more heartbreaking when the grasshoppers come and eat everything, destroying the Wilder’s hopes and causing Pa to leave to work in the East in order to pay off the house.

This is the most developed of all of Wilder’s books, in that she employs foreshadowing as well as conflict, struggle, tension, and all the rest. She builds up the reader’s hopes with the Ingalls, and then flips everything around, causing the readers to experience both resignation, hope, and sorrow when the wheat and the promise of money is destroyed. Therefore, I would say that this is also the most reader-responsive/reader-intuitive of her books.

We are first introduced to Nellie Olson in this book, a snooty girl with all the wealth that Laura lacks. Nellie will also appear in the last two books of the series. Nellie is a combination of three girls that Wilder clashed with in real life. She’s simply a brat in this book; she becomes more nuanced later.

This book also has one of my favorite scenes in the entire series, involving hay stacks and the letter of the law.

Walnut Grove–unnamed in the books

What I Didn’t Like:

On the Banks of Plum Creek is similar to Little House on the Prairie in that while there’s conflict (this time between the grasshoppers and the Ingalls, instead of with the Indians and the settlers), it’s still a pretty blah book (at least in my opinion). Despite the fact that it contains my favorite scene, it’s not my favorite book, which is unfortunate because it’s perhaps a little more nuanced than the rest.

What it might have been like

Overall Review:

Another enjoyable read for children and adults alike. One of Wilder’s best in terms of literary elements, but unfortunately it’s overshadowed by some of her other books that are better in terms of plot and entertainment value.

Coming Up Next: By the Shores of Silver Lake

Series Week I: Farmer Boy

Farmer Boy is the third book (written second) in the Little House series. It was first published in 1933. Almanzo Wilder, Laura’s future husband, is 8-9 in this book. 

Cover Art

Genre: Historical Fiction, Children’s

Summary/Blurb:

“While Laura Ingalls grows up in a little house on the western prairie, Almanzo Wilder is living on a big farm in New York State. Almanzo and his brother and sisters work at their chores from dawn to supper most days—no matter what the weather. There is still time for fun, though, especially with the horses, which Almanzo loves more than anything.”

~Back cover

Passages/Quotes:

“Almanzo ate the sweet, mellow baked beans. He ate the bit of salt pork that melted like cream in his mouth. He ate mealy boiled potatoes, with brown ham-gravy. He ate the ham. He bit deep in velvety bread spread with sleek butter, and he ate the crisp golden crust. He demolished a tall heap of pale mashed turnips, and a hill of stewed yellow pumpkin. Then he sighed, and tucked his napkin deeper in the neckband of his red waist. And he ate plum preserves and strawberry jam, and grape jelly, and spiced watermelon-rind pickles. He felt very comfortable inside. Slowly he ate a large piece of pumpkin pie.”

~Wilder 28

“There was oatmeal with plenty of thick cream and maple sugar. There were fried potatoes, and the golden buckwheat cakes, as many as Almanzo wanted to eat, with sausages and gravy or with butter and maple syrup. There were preserves and jams and jellies and doughnuts. But best of all Almanzo liked the spicy apple pie, with its thick, rich juice and its crumbly crust. He ate two big wedges of the pie.”

~Wilder 38

“All the corn was frozen. The little leaves were stiff, and broke if you touched them. Only cold water would save the life of the corn. Every hill must be watered before the sunshine touched it, or the little plants would die. There would be no corn-crop that year.”

~Wilder 169-170

Original Cover

Warnings: Don’t read this book when you’re hungry.

Recommended Age Range: 10+

Rating: 5/5

What I Liked:

You might think this book is about a boy working on the farm, where the author describes the work that he does and the things he gets up to while doing his work. And, well, it is—Wilder really delves deeply into the lives of a successful farmer and his family working from five in the morning until bedtime at nine at night. But this book is not just about Almanzo’s work on the farm. It’s also about his hunger.

That’s right, this book is also about food.

Just take a look at the first two passages I quoted above. Those are two examples of the many descriptions of food and meals in Farmer Boy. Almanzo is a growing boy and he is perpetually hungry. And back then people ate a lot because they worked all day and needed the calories. Just take a look at what he’s eating for breakfast: not just oatmeal, potatoes, and pancakes, but apple pie. For breakfast.

Apple Pie=Breakfast?

This is one of my favorite books in the Little House series. It’s entertaining with a good amount of information mixed in. The end of the novel is heartwarming and really shows Almanzo’s growth and the trust that his father places in him because of that growth.

Oh, yes, and did I mention the food?

What I Didn’t Like:

There’s one chapter in here that’s entirely devoted to the building of a bobsled for hauling wood. It’s a little boring (unless you really want to know how to build a bobsled like they did in the 1800s), but it can easily be skipped.

Overall Review:

This is one Little House book that would be enjoyed by both girls and boys (and women and men). In my opinion, it’s one of the best books that Wilder wrote: it’s got character development, heartwarming scenes and a ton of information packed into those pages. Just don’t read it when you’re hungry because of the high amount of food descriptions and eating that takes place.

Coming Up Next: On the Banks of Plum Creek

Series Week I: Little House on the Prairie

Little House on the Prairie is the second (written third) book in the Little House series. It was first published in 1935. Laura is 6-7 years old.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Children’s

Cover Art

Summary/Blurb:

“Pa Ingalls decides to sell the little log house, and the family sets out for Indian country! They travel from Wisconsin to Kansas, and there, finally, Pa builds their little house on the prairie. Sometimes farm life is difficult, even dangerous, but Laura and her family are kept busy and are happy with the promise of their new life on the prairie.”

~Back Cover

Passages/Quotes:

“A long time ago, when all the grandfathers and grandmothers of today were little boys and little girls or very small babies, or perhaps not even born, Pa and Ma and Mary and Laura and Baby Carrie left their little house in the Big Woods of Wisconsin. They drove away and left it lonely and empty in the clearing among the big trees, and they never saw that little house again.”

~Wilder 1

“Do you know, Caroline,” Pa stopped singing to say, “I’ve been thinking what fun the rabbits will have, eating that garden we planted.”

~Wilder 332

Warnings: None.

Recommended Age Range: 10+

Rating: 3/5

Original Cover Art

What I Liked:

This book has more conflict than Big Woods. There’s the tension between the Indian tribes and the settlers (with the settlers eventually having to move out). There’s the danger of living and working on a prairie. It also has the information aspect that Big Woods had; Wilder describes Pa’s building of the house and the stables, the digging of the well, and Ma’s cooking and baking. It also introduces a character who will return in a later book. I love reading about how the Ingalls’ work to live off the land and it’s heartbreaking to see their hard work go to waste in the end.

Random bit of info: There’s only a replica of the house now in Kansas, but the well by the replica is the original that was dug by Charles Ingalls.

Sign by the Replica

What I Didn’t Like:

It’s a bit slow in places and it just doesn’t have the interest value or entertainment value that later books have.

Replica in Kansas

Overall Review:

Another great book to read aloud to children, but once again, adults will enjoy it as well. It’s not very fast-paced, but there are good parts to it. If you want to read the whole series, read this one (obviously); if not, it’s skippable.

Coming Up Next: Farmer Boy

Series Week I: Little House in the Big Woods

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.

Cover Art

Genre: Historical Fiction, Children’s

Summary/Blurb:

“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.”

~Back Cover

Charles and Caroline Ingalls

Passages/Quotes:

“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.”

~Wilder 1

“Ma was trembling, and she began to laugh a little. “To think,” she said, “I’ve slapped a bear!”

~Wilder 106

“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.”

~Wilder 151

“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.”

~Wilder 238

Warnings: None

Recommended Age Range: 10+

Rating: 4/5

Original Cover

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!

Replica at the Little House Wayside in Pepin County, WI

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.

Overall Review:

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