Friday, December 11, 2009
I don't think there is a kid that grew up in the '70's and '80's that wasn't at least aware of The Little House on the Prairie ala the TV show. I came home from school every day as a kid and watched these episodes (along with The Brady Bunch, Gilligan's Island and Batman). I grew up with freckle-faced, buck-toothed Laura and prissy, perfect Mary. I laughed whenever Nellie made an ass of herself, and cried when Mary went blind. Because of the TV shows, I was compelled to read all the books as well. I loved them all, but the first one is my sentimental favorite, and earned it's place as my sixth read for my Shelf Discovery Challenge Rampage Month.
As a kid, I remember being totally charmed by the story of Laura Ingalls, and her life on a farm in Wisconsin in the late 1800's. Sure, they didn't have much money and had to work hard for everything they had. You butcher the animals you raise, you have to defend yourself against wild creatures, and you take pleasures in the little things in life...visiting neighbors, a warm fire, and real sugar. Curling up with this book was always my comfort read.
As an adult, I found my reaction to be a little less mild. How was I not horrified at the idea of blowing up a butchered pig's bladder and playing with it like a balloon? Or butchering a small calf to extract its stomach lining to make cheese? Ewww. The book reads like a farmer's handbook on how to survive in the middle of nowhere...how to make bullets, how to make maple syrup, how to make butter and how to thresh wheat. At this stage in my life, I read this and shake my head at the idea of having to braid little threads of wheat to make a hat.
Another knee-jerk reaction I had was how I incredibly irritated I became with Mary. She stayed clean, she sat ladylike at Sunday dinner, never got into trouble, showcased her golden curls, and constantly rubbed Laura's nose in it! What a b*tch! Poor Laura. Listening to this passage, I wondered how the little thing didn't end up in therapy:
The storekeeper said to Pa and Ma, "That's a pretty little girl you've got there," and he admired Mary's golden curls. But he did not say anything about Laura, or about her curls. They were ugly and brown.
The illustrations in the book were as familiar to me as my own face. I must have studied them countless times as a child.
If I didn't have a few hundred books on my TBR list, I think I might read the entire series again. Because we all know, this book is only the very beginning of so much more fun and drama!