Saturday, December 31, 2011
Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Little House on the Prairie was given to me by my Great-Grandma Kile on my eighth birthday and was one of the most beloved books of my childhood. I read it so many times that it is a very tattered worn copy that is falling apart when I now read it to my children.
My sons are five and three and the loved listening to Little House on the Prairie. The three-year old did have some attention problems when the pictures were few and far between on some chapters, but the action always soon roped him back in.
The beginning of the book is the Ingalls family journey from Wisconsin to the prairies of Kansas. The journey is arduous, but also a great adventure. Jack the dog has a nail-biting adventure of his own, which left my kids in tears one night, but very happy another. Once they arrived in Kansas, Pa found the perfect spot to build their little log cabin on the prairie. The detail on how exactly the home was built including the stable, roof, chimney, and digging of the well intrigued my boys. I think Kile is ready to build his own cabin on the prairie.
The adventures continue while they are building the cabin and after they make it a home. They meet a bachelor neighbor named Mr. Edwards. Ma does not approve of his rough ways, but Laura takes an instant shine to him. Mr. Edwards helps Pa with putting the roof on the cabin and Pa helps him with his place. My favorite chapter of the book (and one of the boys’ as well) is “Mr. Edwards Meets Santa Claus.” After much rain, the Ingalls girls are told that Santa Claus will not be able to make it to their place for Christmas. Mr. Edwards meets Santa Claus in Independence and brings the Ingalls gifts over the flooded river to surprise them for Christmas. Even Ma’s heart is melted towards Mr. Edwards as he relates his journey and he makes Laura and Mary’s day complete. It is wonderful how the spirit of Christmas can be found in having a tin cup of your own. This chapter alone is one of my favorite Christmas stories.
Little House on the Prairie gives a view of the Native Americans as white settlers viewed them at the time. Although Pa seems more open minded then Ma, he is technically squatting on Indian reservation land that he has no right to be on. I never really thought about this when I was a child. After such comments in the book as “The only good Indian is a dead Indian,” I tried to give the boys a more enlightened views of Native American/Settler relations. I told them how the Native Americans were here first and the settlers took the land away and there was much fighting involved. That didn’t stop the boys from playing, “The Indians are going to attack!!” later that day. I tried!
It was an amazing life the settlers lived on the prairie. When the Ingalls family comes down with an illness and all pass out in their home, they are lucky that a passing Indian doctor (Dr. Tann) is able to help them to survive. I think it is interesting that Dr. Tann is actually an African American doctor. It is interesting to read about fascinating African Americans of the 19th century. A deadly prairie fire, chimney fire, and near fatality in the digging of the well, made one wonder how people survived. As my husband Ben said, many did not.
Laura Ingalls Wilder wrote about the details of her life and I always consider this book to be “non-fiction.” It is in reality historical fiction as Laura changed some facts to make the timeline smoother. The Little House on the Prairie adventures actually took place before Little House in the Big woods in real life and Laura was too little to remember. She supplemented her memories with the memories of Ma and Mary. This book is my 22nd and final book for the Historical Fiction Challenge 2011.
Overall, Little House on the Prairie is a wonderful, enthralling, educational adventure story that is enjoyable for young boys, girls, and their parents.
Book Source: I received this book for my eighth birthday many years ago!