Little House in the Big Woods

Lisa over at Books Lists Life has decided to host a Little House on the Prairie Read-a-Long! If you haven't already, join us... it is stress free and easy going. Besides, the Little House books are amazing and Laura Ingalls Wilder is pretty fantastic.

The series of Little House books are based on Wilder's childhood, but are classified as fiction rather than autobiography... you can learn more about that and Laura Ingall's Wilder by doing a quick search. Basically, there is debate about the memories and the influence of her daughter (who helped to edit the series). It actually is quite interesting to look into her life while reading the series.

Okay, so naturally we are reading the books in order (with the exception being Farmer Boy- we aren't reading that one). First book up in the series is Little House in the Big Woods. Quite possibly my favorite... but then again my mind may change as I read them now as an adult. I remember loving this one, but looking back it probably sticks out because it is what started me into the series and kept me reading. I remember it was my Aunt who bought me the boxed set when I was a kiddo. That set is now long gone, donated to my classroom years ago, wandering off piece by piece by former students. Fortunately, my classroom (and a colleagues) had a few copies of each book, so I was able to piece together the majority of the series. The rest I ordered from Scholastic and will get in the mail sometime next week. Thankfully one of the books I did have was Little House in the Big Woods so I didn't have to wait to join the Read-a-long.

Reading LH in the Big Woods on the shore
I picked Little House in the Big Woods and finished it in one sitting (freezing my ass off by Cayuga Lake while Bear and Jay were fishing). It immediately transported me back to my childhood. The details are rich and the writing flows quickly... but then again, that *may* be because I am no longer 8. Ha! Anywho, I absolutely adored this book. Rereading this as an adult brought so many "oh yeah!" and "that's pretty cool" moments. Reading about Laura's Ma and Pa and all of their duties around the home was neat. It reminded me where we came from and how life used to be. It also reminded me how to connect with nature. The simplicity and complexity of life is appealing on a certain level. So many different concerns and worries as opposed to today. I really enjoyed the little details about things such as churning butter and making cheese... it also sort of reminded me that if shit hits the fan and an apocalypse shows up at the doorstep, we could manage- they sure did.

Something that I don't think I picked up on as a kid (or at least not near as much as I did while reading this as an adult) was the internal struggle that begins within Laura in this book. Her struggle to behave and act more ladylike, as well as her struggle with competition with her older sister. Jealously and a feeling of being inferior are present as the story moves along. I was sad when I read those parts, thinking now through the lens of an adult. I can't recall these moments from my memories while reading Little House, so I feel like I either didn't pick it up or I just kind of felt like it was no big deal- normal even. Honestly, it is normal. I just hate the fact that it is... no little girl (or boy!!!) should feel inferior in ANY way. Okay, so I veered off topic a bit and am going to stop there before I turn this into a PSA.
All in all, I certainly loved rereading Little House in the Big Woods. It draws the reader in and does a good job spanning a year in the life. I enjoyed how it was broken up seasonally and thought that the descriptions were throrough and well thought out. The version I read had illustrations from the second illustrator, Garth Williams. I ended up browsing the internet to find some of the original Little House artwork by illustrator Helen Sewell. The images I found by Helen Sewell were lovely. I would enjoy finding a copy of the Little House books with her original work. Garth William's does an amazing job as well, and I would guess that his work with Little House is more widely known- I can only recall his artwork when associating anything Little House. Either way- the illustrations bring out the text and are pleasant to see. They may not be the illustrations children are used to now, but I think that anyone who reads the book would certainly enjoy them. I'm thinking I may hunt down a thrift store book to cut up and frame some of his illustrations! They're charming, in my opinion.

In conclusion... this was a long and rambling post. Please don't hate me for my tangents. Hahaha... and really, if you aren't reading along with us, go do so- NOW! While you're at it, go peep the twitter discussion with the #LittleHouseRAL hashtag. Ahh... Little House and technology.. what a mix!

write to be understood, speak to be heard, read to grow

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