Thursday, August 24, 2017

Pioneer Girl Perspectives: Exploring Laura Ingalls Wilder Edited by Nancy Tystad Koupal

I loved reading Pioneer Girl two years ago and was excited to pick up Perspectives while I was in De Smet this summer.  Pioneer Girl Perspectives is a collection of essays about Wilder’s life and works. It is a fascinating collection and very interesting to me.  I learned a lot and have a lot of favorite quotes – pretty much the entire book!  The essays included how Laura Ingalls Wilder and Rose Wilder Lane worked together to create the Little House series, why the Little House books have a lasting appeal, how Pioneer Girl finally came to print, childhood myths explored, etc.  

Interesting Tidbits from the book:

“Leaning on her daughter’s apprenticeship in yellow journalism, Laura Ingalls Wilder felt free to meld genres, molding fact into fiction in ways that she did not acknowledge even to herself, attending to her novels’ ‘truth’ while providing the succor of a fictitious happy ending.  That was a feature, she said, of ‘all good novels.’ It is a testament to the moral complexity of her art that we are still wrestling, decades after the fact, to separate truth from fiction.”

Laura and Rose had a tenuis working relationship.  Rose’s two most famous books were based on Laura’s autobiography that she helped to work get published.  After it didn’t get published as an adult novel, Rose reworked episodes of it for her adult fiction while Laura wrote her children’s books from the source material.

“She never glamorized anything; yet she saw the loveliness in everything.”  Illustrator Garth Williams on Laura Ingalls.  I was interested to read how his research for illustrating the books helped to solve a lot of the mysteries about place and settings for the books.  For example Walnut Grove Minnesota didn’t know it was the setting for On the Banks of Plum Creek until Williams visited.

I read that an author I enjoy, Louise Erdrich started a series with the Birchbark House to tell the Native American side of the story with a little Native American girl growing up in the big woods of Wisconsin and getting displaced by white settlers.  I’m reading this book now!  It is interesting how the Little House books always describe the land as empty when it was in fact, inhabited by Native American tribes.

“Wilder’s most devoted fans do not simply identify with Laura or want to read about her, they want to be Laura.  They attend conferences based on Wilder’s work.  They research the lives of her friends, family, and acquaintances.  They buy tickets to Wilder museums, pageants, and plays.  They go on literary pilgrimages to the prairie towns and home sites associated with the books.  They throw back their sunbonnets, kick off their shoes, and go wading on the banks of Plum Creek.”  Hmmm... I have done everything in this paragraph except for attending a Little House conference.  It felt strange to be so accurately described.  Am I a Little house superfan?

Overall, Pioneer Girl Perspectives is a riveting collection of essays that delve into the many depths of Laura Ingalls Wilder and her classic series of books.  This is a must read for any fan of the Little House series.

Book Source:  Laura Ingalls Wilder Historic Homes, De Smet, South Dakota

No comments:

Post a Comment