So you feel like you’ve lived an interesting life, maybe a life that illustrates one of the archetypal American themes — Manifest Destiny, for example. How do you go about writing your life story for public consumption? For Laura Ingalls Wilder, the process involved writing a long, seamless, sequential narrative to her writer daughter, Rose Wilder Lane — complete with personal notes (“You remember the dress…”) and directions indicating an awareness of a public audience that might one day read her story. Some passages are…Continue Reading “Pioneer Girl”

I picked up A Little House Traveler by chance on the juvenile biography shelf last week. Barbara at Stray Thoughts hosts a Laura Ingalls Wilder Challenge this month, and when I saw this title it looked interesting. It was a very quick-moving read comprised of Laura’s letters and journals from three of her trips: from DeSmet to Missouri as a young married woman; to San Francisco as a middle-aged woman to visit her daughter Rose; and back to DeSmet with Almanzo (and Nero the dog)…Continue Reading “A Little House Traveler”

I’ve been reading in undisciplined fashion this summer — which means that instead of being in my usual one-book-at-a-time mode, I’m in multi-read mode. Currently I’m alternating between Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird, Edith Nesbit’s Treasure Seekers, and, in preparation for my soon-to-be sixth grader’s reading list for next year, Don Quixote. (Hers will be an abridgement!) The multi-read mode is risky for me; I always wait with bated breath to see if I’ll finish any of the books on my nightstand. But it’s part…Continue Reading “Books in the atmosphere”

I picked up The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie at a publisher’s book sale that comes to our area once a year. It has one of the most attractive covers ever, in my opinion, and as someone who has read and reread the Little House books, I dropped it into my book bag without having to think about it. Reading it was a different story. I actually considered throwing it away after the first fifty pages or…Continue Reading “The Wilder Life”

It took us a long time to read Caddie Woodlawn. But we never lost the thread, and our interest never waned. I enjoyed this book when I was a child, and I enjoyed revisiting it with my children just as much. Assuming most folks are familiar with the plot of this frontier story about a girl in Wisconsin around the time of the Civil War, I’m going to concentrate on our reactions as we close the book. First, comparison to Laura Ingalls Wilder is hard…Continue Reading “Caddie Woodlawn”

My mother read us the Little House books when my family drove across the country. We drove from New York to California, tent-camping all the way, the summer before I entered 7th grade, and these stories about another westward-moving family were a wonderful accompaniment. Those were the days before iPods or portable dvd-players (or even dvd’s, truth be told). We were in it together. Now my daughters and I have gone through them all — all the books for children, that is. The First Four…Continue Reading “Random thoughts on the Little House books”

I read Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Woman Behind the Legend for the first time in the fall of 2007. My daughters and I had been exploring the earlier Little House books for the first time since I’d experienced them as a child, and I had a desire to learn more about the author behind these wonderful stories. Now we’re into the later books in the series, and my interest was piqued again. Why the same biography? Because it left me feeling deflated the first…Continue Reading “Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder”

This is Katie. She’s a border collie. She’s bred for intelligence and stamina, made to herd sheep all day long. Instead, she spends most of her days sleeping or chasing frisbees or going for walks on a leash. She’s a good sport. But her life with us is not the purpose she was made for. What are people made for? This is Almanzo Wilder: His boyhood life is the subject of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Farmer Boy, which we’ve been reading. It’s a life loaded with purpose, skill, knowledge, and…Continue Reading “Socialization or sufficiency?”