Revisiting the Little House in the Prairie

First of all, let me toot my own horn (I had no idea that toot was actually an English verb, hilarious)… This is my 600th post, oh my! I’d never had guessed if WordPress hadn’t provided the statistics. It first made me feel like a dinosaur of a blog, but then it only makes 2,5 posts by week which is nothing extraordinary.

Anyway, during summer (yes, this isn’t a completely timely review), I endeavoured to revisit a childhood favourite: The Little house in the prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I was spurred to give it a new look as I started to patronize the children’s library and was dumbfounded in front of the amazing choice and variety. What did I love as a child? What book has left me a strong impression over the years? The Little house was among the first titles to spring to mind. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one to do that, because Rebecca from Books and Bikes had the same idea at the same time and wrote several interesting posts about it, mentioning Anita Clair Fellman’s Little House, Long Shadow.

I haven’t read Fellman’s book but a few years ago I read with interest a long article in the New Yorker by Judith Thurman, that mentioned it: Wilder Women about Ingalls and her daughter. It gave another vision of the fictional people I knew so well and the real ones behind them.

I adored the book series as a child. I can still see in my mind the corner in our local library where they were shelved, because I was so familiar (and so addicted) that I went there directly after checking in my returned books. Although I read it all in French, our edition presented the classic Garth Williams illustrations, so that as I reconnected with it this summer, I re-lived by experience as a little girl. I remember playing house like a pioneer in a wagon (camping out in my very French bedroom) thanks to the richly detailed descriptions and I strongly related to little Laura in all matters.

So I got myself second-hand copies of the Little House on the prairie and On the banks of Plum Creek, and frankly, I enjoyed them nearly as much as I did as a child. I was surprised to realize how dangerous many of the situations are (so that I can’t downplay my own thrill and anguish as a child), and how alone in the world they seem. I was surprised how little the mother said (in terms of emotions or conversations) while she worked from dawn to dusk. Of course, the books are the reflect of their time (being starkly conservative), but they haven’t become outdated.

Perhaps my later wanderlust and my eagerness to make my home anywhere had something to do with the Little House. I still wonder. Anyway, I hope that one day my son will read – and enjoy – the series.

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3 thoughts on “Revisiting the Little House in the Prairie

  1. I also found it interesting how emotionally reticent the family was. They obviously loved each other and were happy together, but there wasn’t a whole lot of emotional sharing. I am also fascinated by the lessons I learned from the books and the characteristics I came to admire in Laura and perhaps developed in myself more because of her.

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