Friday, December 11, 2009

Little House in the Big Woods - Laura Ingalls Wilder


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!

4 out of 5 stars



26 comments:

farmlanebooks said...

I'm afraid I am one of the monorite who wasn't aware of Little House on the Prairie. Was it aired in the UK? I haven't read the book either...I feel as though I'm missing out!

Susan said...

I loved all the Little House books, but my favorite is The Long Winter. I really wanted to make those hotcakes like Almanzo and his brother did, layering them with the brown sugar. They sounded so delicious! In reality, it wasn't that great, but if you were really hungry as they all were that long winter, I'm sure they were like manna from heaven!

Loved the series, too! Michael Landon sure knew a winner when he saw it, didn't he?

Julie P. said...

This is one of my favorite books from my childhood! I remember my 1st grade teacher reading it to us at circle time. I can't get my daughter to read it no matter how hard I beg!

You are putting me to shame in this challenge!! LOL!

JoAnn said...

Funny, but this book didn't stand the test of time for me. Read it aloud to my girls when they were younger, but it nearly put me to sleep! Only one of them ended up reading the whole series.

Jeane said...

I loved them when I was a kid, but I think a lot of the same things would jump out at me if I read it now. I do remember reading the part about the pig bladder balloon and thinking what poor children, they couldn't buy a regular balloon!

Shelley/Book Fanatic said...

I loved these books when I was young. It is nice to go back and re-read some childhood favorites.

caite said...

Having never read the Wilder books, my only knowledge of The Little House on the Prairie series if from TV. Which I like, but it was a bit meek and mild.

But I must say that with all your talk 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.." has me really interested!
Oh, but for the several hundred TBR pile...

bermudaonion said...

I read a few of these books as a child, but didn't just love them like everyone else seemed to. Maybe I was grossed out by the pig bladder, etc.

You are totally rocking this challenge!

Kathleen said...

I watched the same shows after school as you did and Little House was the only book I read in the series and I read it numerous times! I love Laura as she was a tomboy and I liked that. I was the little girl with blond curls but I was scrappy like Laura so I related to her more. I can't wait to think of the books from my childhood that I can reread. This has been so fun to read your reviews and relive wonderful memories from my own childhood!

The Bumbles said...

Little House was appointment viewing in my neighborhood. We all would run off the bus and gather at one friend's house or another to watch. I loved that show. Half Pint and Pa were just awesome. I read the books too of course. But I don't really remember any of them. They were probably vastly different in detail from the TV series.

rhapsodyinbooks said...

Actually maybe Laura should have read that book, "The Pretty One and The Smart One" :--)

Margot at Joyfully Retired said...

This is also one of my favorite book series. But I'm with Susan. My favorite was The Long Winter. It just seemed so dramatic - nearly starving to death. I read these books to my kids and then they watched the series. Now my grandkids are involved. It's good when a series is this good that it can be carried on for several generations.

Alyce said...

I like learning about the survival stuff (like the calf stomach lining thing) but I'd never want to do it myself. :) I always thought the first book in the series was just ok. My favorite is The Long Winter. I haven't read them in years though, and I wonder if my reaction would change too.

Amy said...

I adored the Little House series of books, all except one that was about Mary and her marriage. My sister and I watched the tv show every week. But in the books and on the show we disliked Mary a lot of the time. She was "little miss goody-two-shoes" to us! lol Your point about thinks like playing with the pig's bladder etc. not bothering you is interesting. I don't remeber it bothering me either. I guess I just glossed over it as kids sometimes do!

You brought back great memories with this one!

Beth F said...

I loved this series when I was a kid and have reread several times over the decades.

ds said...

Somewhere in the middle (oh, blasphemy!) I lost interest in the series--I think after Laura began teaching, though the early books were wonderful. And Michael Landon *sigh* That hair. That laugh! Thanks for the memories!

heidenkind said...

I watched the TV show, but never read any of the books.

The episode of the TV show that really got me was when Laura's dog died. I literally still have horror-filled flashes to the ep. Scarred me for life.

Lisa said...

I loved these books when I was growing up. I must have skimmed right over that the disgusting stuff!

Literary Feline said...

I loved the television show. I still find myself stopping and watching when I come across an episode on TV. :-) I haven't read the books. Maybe someday.

DeSeRt RoSe said...

I used to watch the series and like it.. but never knew it was origanaly a series of books.. I should check them out :)

Alice Teh said...

I haven't read this before! Gotta check this out.

Dar said...

I loved these books and the tv series. I haven't however read them in years. Maybe one of these days I will again. My mom loved them - of course they reminded her of growing up on the farm.

Craftymoose Crafts said...

I grew up and loved not only the tv show but especially the books! You might be interested to check out this blog:

http://decortoadore.blogspot.com/2009/12/little-house-on-prairie-musical.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DecorToAdore+
(Decor+to+Adore)

Laura Ingalls Gunn is a relative and namesake of Laura Ingalls Wilder.

Jenners said...

I know what you mean about having such a feeling of familiarity with illustrations. I saw new illustrations for "Pippi Longstocking" and was horrified!

And I love hearing your grown-up reactions!

Toni said...

I loved the series as a young girl. I tried to read it to my children years ago and they had no interest. I clearly remember the pig bladder part. I can't remember my reaction, but I don't remember being grossed out. Ha... they were magical then...I don't think I will re-read any of them as I want to preserve the magic. Nice review.

Amy Reads Good Books said...

I re-read these last year and was amazed at how many life-threatening situations that seemed cozy when I read the books as a kid!