Saturday, February 28, 2015

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder ~ Book Review

Little House in the Big Woods is the first in this classic children's literature series of homesteading and early prairie life by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I have not read this book since I was a kid. None of my own children had interest in the series, much to my disappointment, so I thought I would jump on board with Barbara at Stray Thoughts and her Laura Ingalls Wilder Reading Challenge which happens in February.

 It was fun to revisit the story, but one thing I was struck by rereading as an adult was how "elementary" the writing was. Of course, I didn't remember something like that from reading it as a child.

 Laura's story in this book scans about a year of her life from the age of 4. There were a few things that stood out to me reading it this time around. Even though I watched the Little House on the Prairie series, again as a young person, and had a somewhat visual  in my mind, I was still struck by how difficult and filled with hard work the pioneer life really was. Just a few of the things from the book that jumped out was how disciplined the children in the story were (for the most part, with some exceptions) and how hard they actually helped out with different aspects around the house that was really hard work at such a young age. I think of kids nowadays at that age and how easy their lives are now in North America. I really enjoyed the descriptions of how they had to prepare foods for the winter. We take so much for granted with grocery stores having all our foods readily available without the hard work. The simpleness of their existence in terms of things they had was also something that really stood out. We have so much stuff nowadays that we think are so essential to our survival, when it's really for our comfort and overt luxury. The sheer isolation of life on the prairies back then boggled my mind. That's something I never really thought about before. Being a bit more of an extrovert than introvert I wonder how I would take to something like that. All I can say about the homesteading life of that time is that I'm sure glad that God knew what He was doing and put me into this time as I don't know how I would have survived all that the prairie life required.

 Reading Challenge Goals Met: A book from my childhood, a popular author's first book, a book based on or turned into a tv show

Will also be linked to Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books


Melanie said...

I agree, Susanne that we have it pretty good in this time and age. I didn't read any Little House books until I was an adult. thanks for your review.

Barbara H. said...

Someone pointed out to me recently that Laura's writing grew more complex as she went on. I don't know if she wrote simply at first because she was aiming her first books at very young children, or if she just grew as a writer the more she wrote.

I am always amazed in these books at how much work ordinary life was and how they faced what we would consider hardships with a "just get it done" attitude. It's convicting to me. I am also very glad I live in the times I do!

Jerralea said...

I've always loved Laura's books, but you are right - I'm glad God made me for modern times instead of pioneer times.

I never thought about it before: how extroverts managed when they were so isolated in pioneer days. Maybe the extroverts were the ones who headed for the cities and left the farm life behind!

Faith said...

I LOVED ALL the LIttle House books as a child and my oldest daughter DID NOT! But my youngest, now 16, LOVED every book!!! It's fun to go back and read favorite childhood books. I did that recently with a fave book from high school literature (The Scarlet Letter and Les Miserables). Happy reading!!

nikkipolani said...

I haven't read this particular book in ages, but I do recall the simplicity of the foods they ate day in and day out. Subsistence farming in a small community. What a contrast to our current life where we're struggling to de-clutter all the time!

Melanie - Author/Editor/Publisher said...

Oh I loved all of those books!!!!!

hopeinbrazil said...

I just heard a podcast in which Cindy Rollins said the Little House books were some of the best in American literature, even rivalling Mark Twain. It made me want to go back and re-read them. Thanks for reviewing.