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Heads Up, Little House Fans

May
30

I stumbled across The Wilder Life: My Adventures in the Lost World of Little House on the Prairie (by Wendy McClure) recently when I was having an odd surge of interest in the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I hadn’t thought about those books in years then in some kind of apparent wave of synchronicity with the planet (considering this book had just been released), I was browsing Amazon trying to find some kind of book about Laura Ingalls, and even thinking of repurchasing the entire Little House set. (Have no idea what happened to my set of the books.)


As a tomboy kid, I wore my long brown hair in pigtails quite a bit, and spent my childhood constantly being told I looked like Laura Ingalls (particularly the Melissa Gilbert version).

Presenting Miss (no relation to Melissa) Gilbert’s fourth grade class of 1974.

Let’s zoom in on that poor pigtailed girl.

I rest my case.

Though I never liked the comparisons to Laura Ingalls (not sure why, I just remember that I hated being told I looked like her—and yet, this didn’t stop me from continuing to wear my hair in pigtails), I did love the books and read them over and over. I was only a so-so fan of the TV show. I’d already read the books, so the show never felt quite right. Morgan has never read this series, by the way. She and Weston are both wildly voracious readers, but Morgan went through a phase where she claimed to hate reading. It was at that age that she might have fallen in love with the Little House books, so she missed the boat.

I came across The Wilder Life book during my recent inexplicable spark of interest in the series, and it’s seriously fun reading if you have any interest in the Little House stories and the family behind them. The author is beyond obsessed with Laura Ingalls, and admittedly so. She, in fact, does actually acquire a new (old) set of the books (having also lost her childhood set), rereads them, and starts researching the Ingalls. The author, Wendy McClure, is a children’s book editor in Chicago, and also a writer, and the book is a chronicle of the engaging, sometimes hilarious, madness of her full-on dive into “Laura World” in search of the truth and the fantasy about the Little House series. She dons sunbonnets, learns how to churn butter in her apartment kitchen, and takes the complete pilgrimage tour of all the sites in the books. (Most of which don’t exactly exist now, other than in recreations.)

The disturbing part of the book, of course, is discovering that these real people were real people. (Sigh!) Pa was no hero. He was a ne’er-do-well, a chronic failure, and a jerk. The family moved so many times in part because they were being thrown off claims they had no right to or they were running away from debts (usually in the middle of the night). Pa’s adventurous spirit was a little more complicated than presented in the books. He even worked Laura and Mary as servants in a hotel at one point to support the family. (The Little Hotel of Child Labor was somehow left out of the series.) During the time the family lived in the actual little house on the prairie (the site of the most popular book of the series), Laura was only three, and that entire book is a work of fiction. (It’s somewhat akin to the moment you learn that Mammy Jane hadn’t even gotten married until after the Civil War was over.)

We always knew the books were fiction, though, right? They were shelved in the fiction section of bookstores and libraries. I always thought of them as real—but then, I thought of Peter Rabbit as real at one point…. And yet, the Little House books still shine to me as truly fabulous children’s books. No need to distress the kids with the truth about Pa. (That would really take the glow off the prairie.)

As for Laura, her writings were largely controlled by her daughter, Rose, who she allowed to perpetuate even more myths about her life and family than she made up herself. In the 1930s, while working on the books, Laura and Rose drove out looking for the site of the little house on the prairie and couldn’t find it. (No wonder. Laura had no actual memory of that period.) It was only discovered later by researchers through land claim records. Despite the presentation of the books as fiction, Laura made numerous speeches in her life claiming the stories in the books as truth, further confusing the issue. Maybe Laura needed to believe the stories as much as we did. Her childhood wasn’t truly that idyllic. (But then would we have loved the stories as much if they had not been?) Despite it all, or maybe because of it, these were still real people that worked in a day the way most of us don’t know how to work in a year, and in the same way that the books still shine, the Ingalls family still represents something heroic.

Watching the author of The Wilder Life take what she calls her calico-sunbonnet freak flag flying adventure into “Laura World” is enormously fascinating—mostly because of the author’s self-deprecating take on her own need to do it. I have no compelling desire to travel hundreds of miles to stick my feet in Plum Creek, see Pa’s fiddle, or find the sod house, but it was fun watching her do it with her mixture of disappointment and wonder all wrapped up in a humorous acceptance of her own absurdity. I totally recommend this book if you were a childhood Little House fan. But don’t let the kids read it. At least not till a long, long time after you’ve told them there’s no Santa Claus, either.

If you’re interested, you can find the book here. (I got it on my Kindle, which is a little cheaper.) You can find the author’s website here, where she has some photos of her “Laura World” journeys. (She really is obsessed. She twitters as HalfPintIngalls.)

Did you read the series when you were a kid? Were you are a fan of the books or the TV show? Do you find the truth about Pa as disturbing as I do? (I’m still disturbed!)

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Posted by Suzanne McMinn on May 30, 2011  

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  1. 5-30
    1:47
    am

    I was an avid reader as a child and today. They were my favorite books. I just recently gave my granddaughter a set. The country they lived in and their way of life intrigued me, as a child in foster care and living in the city. Truth is stranger than fiction, darn! Now I will have to read the book, I want to know. Spending most of my life in the country has made the books dearer to me. I felt the same way. I fell in love with the books and the TV version wasn’t quite the same. Thanks Suzanne for an interesting read. How cute, you did look like Melissa.

  2. 5-30
    4:15
    am

    I can remember getting a box set of these books when I was in first grade. My mother ordered them as a surprise through the Scholastic book orders we used to get. I remember walking home with my sister and her carrying this largish box in a bag that I was not allowed to see as it was a surprise for my birthday. I treasured those books and wore them out with reading. I’ve always wanted to have my hair long enough to braid and wrap around my head like Laura did when milking the cow. I think there’s a picture of this in BY the Shores of Silver Lake. As interested as I am in this new book, I’m hesitating about whether or not I want the whole truth about the lives behind the books. Perhaps I will go back to them one last time as an adult and then face reality…

  3. 5-30
    6:42
    am

    I’ve read the books over and over. I always liked the show too. I don’t think I’ll read the suggested book. I like my fiction to stay fiction. Too much knowledge takes the magic away from me. I’m like this with behind the scenes of movies too. I don’t want to know how they got the animal to talk or Harry to fly on a broom. Once I know how they did it, I can never get caught back up into the movie. So, I’m not going to take the chance on the book. Maybe I’ll read it when I’m at a point in life that I’ll never want to read Little House again. :)
    BTW, that is a great picture of you! You just need a bonnet on before you walk home from school! :)

  4. 5-30
    7:18
    am

    My boxed set of Little House books is one of the few birthday presents I can actually still remember from my childhood. I wore them out, and yes, need to replace them. As someone who is always fascinated with those “the making of the movie” special features on DVDs, I’m game to read the whole truth (although I think I can hear Jack Nicholson in the background telling me “the truth? You can’t handle the truth.” But he’s wrong. I hope). LOL Thanks for pointing me in the direction of the book. Oh, and I wouldn’t be so sure that Morgan has passed the age of being smitten with the stories. As an adult, I’ve discovered any number of children’s books I missed when I was a kid. It’s different, I’m sure, from loving them I was young and rediscovering them now, but still fun.

  5. 5-30
    7:34
    am

    I also loved the Little House series of books—-I still have my falling apart box set of books and read one on occasion. I got new set for my oldest daughter several years ago, but to my disapointment she didn’t fall in love with them. Maybe there is still hope for my youngest. My name is Laura Lee, but I so desperately wanted it to be Laura Elizabeth!!!! Thanks for telling me about this book. I will do a search to see if one of our local libraries carries it. Even though real life is never as close to pretty as fantasy is, I look forward to reading it. :happyfeet:

  6. 5-30
    7:37
    am

    I read all the books as a child – and re-read them two years ago for some reason, becoming really keen on them again. Not as keen as the author of this book, clearly!

    I had heard that a lot of the stories were fictionalised account of real life, or loosely based on real incidents, but still somehow cling to them as truth!

    and yes, I am very disturbed to hear about Pa!!!

  7. 5-30
    8:07
    am

    I read all of these as a kid and loved them all, except for ‘The Long Winter’, which still makes me cold every time I think about it.

    I think Michael Landon’s portrayal of Pa helped solidify the What-A-Good-Man myth in the popular culture. The truth about Pa is sad. But, as you say, the books were clearly marked fiction. Laura Ingalls Wilder was a wonderful story teller.

    Interestingly, my girls have NO interest at all in these books, though I have a lot of them at home. Weird.

  8. 5-30
    8:50
    am

    Your son Weston is the spitting image of you!

  9. 5-30
    9:01
    am

    The first thing I ever purchased, with my own money, was the Little House series. I was in first grade and I used my birthday money. I still have them and plan on reading them with my daughter when she gets old enough. Even as a child, I thought it was weird that they moved so much and had so much trouble, so no, I wasn’t really surprised to learn the truth.

  10. 5-30
    9:30
    am

    I loved the Little House on the Prairie set of books when I was a girl, and watched the TV series every week. One year for Halloween I went trick or treating as Laura Ingalls, complete with the dress and the bonnet and the long braids. I think I was in 3rd or 4th grade. The TV show was popular at the time, so everyone knew immediately who I was supposed to be.

    I’m not sure I will read that book you referenced or not. It makes me sad to think that Pa Ingalls isn’t just like Michael Landon.

  11. 5-30
    9:31
    am

    Thanks for the heads up! I grew up with the Little House books, as my mother was an English teacher and children’s librarian. I also lived near several of the sites from the books and have visited most of them. If you ever do want to visit, send me an email, I’d love to give you a tour!

    Deb

  12. 5-30
    9:38
    am

    I love the pigtails!! My mom wouldn’t allow me to grow my hair long:( But I loved the Little House on the Prairie books as well as the series. Like other posters, I gave a set to my oldest (and two youngest daughters), and none of them where nearly as thrilled with the series. Now Heidi, that’s another story!! My middle daughter was totally into Heidi – except for the goats.

    Happy Memorial Day!

    Beth

  13. 5-30
    10:03
    am

    I too, read the books. I always just had a thought about Pa, but never knew for sure. Now, I do – that wasn’t uncommon in those days, I’m told. My Grandma and my Mother were both sent out to work when they were children. They lived in a sod house on the prairie too. So, the books really interested me. My Grandpa was kind of a Pa . . . now, I DO want to read the book by Wendy – I think it would be very interesting. My youngest daughter read the books, but none of the others did. I think Wendy should do a book on the Waltons. Didn’t we all think they were real?
    You absolutely DO look like Laura from the TV show – so cute!

  14. 5-30
    10:03
    am

    Ok…here’s my big confession. I think I bought the first Little House book at our school’s book fair when I was 10 or so. Then I read it that night…AND I WENT BACK THE NEXT DAY and stole the second book. My mother refused to give me more money for books (think of it like a parent refusing to give a crack addict more money for crack). So….I stole that one. However, with the rest of them I slowly saved nickles, quarters, dimes…until I eventually bought all of them. And read, and re-read, and re-read FOREVER.

    I tried to read Rose’s book but didn’t like it. I am looking forward to reading this book. I think I read something that Laura wrote once where she talked about how the facts in her stories were all true (braiding straw to make fuel for the fire for example, like they did in “The Long Winter”) but they didn’t necessarily happen to her or in the order it happened in..anyway, great stories. The series made a nice story of a mostly good family into something so syrupy I couldn’t hack it.

    My own daughter is a reader but didn’t like ANY of the children’s books I loved, not Trixie Belden, not Boxcar Children nor Little House books. I stock these on my shelves at school and have had some interest from students, which I take comfort in. Thanks for pointing me in the direction of this book!

  15. 5-30
    10:05
    am

    I too loved (still do) reading the Little House books. My oldest son even read them, although I don’t think he liked them as much as I did. My two younger children love for me to read to them from the Little House books. I also wore my long hair in pigtails and people often told me I looked like the Melissa Gilbert version of Laura Ingalls. My Grandmother called me Half-Pint all the time, which really used to annoy me. I am not sure I really want to know the “whole truth” about the real Laura Ingalls Wilder, but I will probably read the book anyway. I did like the TV series as a child, but I cannot stand to watch it now -not sure why that is but it is.

  16. 5-30
    10:15
    am

    I read them as a child and loved them. I always wanted a bridle dog too even though I wasn’t sure for a long time what that meant. I always thought their moving was due to Pa having ‘itchy feet’ and wanting to see what was over the next hill and I thought it was pretty unfair to his family, but the ‘truth’ of Wendy McClure’s books makes sense. I’ll probably read it myself since I never took the original books as gospel truth, though I knew they were written by Laura and at least loosely based on the truth.

    I never warmed up to the TV series even though Michael Landon was one of my childhood crushes as Little Joe in Bonanza. I always thought he was just too good to be true, plus since I knew the books inside and out, a lot of the other stuff on TV was just ridiculous to me.

  17. 5-30
    10:33
    am

    Weird that you mention reading the Little House series. I’ve never read the series, but have recently been wanting to. The McClure book sounds like a fun / interesting read. Thanks for the heads up.

  18. 5-30
    10:45
    am

    I read the Prairie and Big Woods books as a child; I don’t recall if there were any other volumes in the local library. I was fascinated by a different way of life. That isn’t where my interest in living closer to nature started, though. There was a large collection of books about NW coastal Indian in our local library and I was already deeply into that. I think that is why I didn’t idolize the Ingalls books or go to the effort of finding any of the other books in the series.

    When the TV show came on, I was old enough to think more analytically about the original stories. Without an emotional attachment to interfere with cold logic, it was quite obvious to me that Pa had some kind of problem to explain the constant moving. I am not at all surprised to hear some of the details now. I actually find that makes the story more interesting, not less. Real people have flaws – sometimes bad ones. Including the complexity of character might not have made a good children’s book, but I think it certainly would make a more thought-provoking book for adults. Even for children, I think some part of the truth would be beneficial had it been woven into the books. I don’t think it is good for children to be given the impression that you have to be perfect to accomplish good things in life.

  19. 5-30
    10:51
    am

    I had a real fascination with the Little House books, too. My mom was a big fan of the show when I was young, she called it “the tear jerker”, and we’d watch it together every week. The show is what got me interested in reading the books, kind of the other way around from most of the posters. I’m so glad I read them though! I yearned to live like a pioneer woman (kind of still do!) and started wearing a lot of long skirts and learned to bake, and when it snowed I ran out and poured syrup in the snow just like Laura did to make maple candy or whatever it was….I just learned about Wendy’s book last week or so on NPR and read an exerpt. I found it very sad that the real Laura and her daughter weren’t very close when Rose was a child and they were living in southern Missouri. I guess Rose did A LOT of editing and adding to Laura’s accounts of her life; it’s what ultimately made the books so popular. Again, they are labelled as fiction! But I sure enjoyed them and have thought about reading them again many times. I guess it’s time!

  20. 5-30
    11:03
    am

    Your resemblance to Laura is amazing!
    But it’s very disturbing to learn that Laura’s dad was not the person he was portrayed to be in the books and on tv. But, as grown-ups, we can handle that. Loved the show (except for the sad episodes).

  21. 5-30
    11:47
    am

    :woof: (Is this Jack?)
    The Little House books made a profound impression on me as a child. I spent much of my early childhood with my grandmother, who was a country girl of the same age as Laura. The books reminded me of my grandmother’s stories of her childhood.They filled many lonely hours with dreams of a loving family working together to endure the hardships of that time. I still love the books. This series of books lite the fire for reading in me and I am forever thankful for the world they opened up.

    My tribute to Laura Ingalles Wilder–my oldest daughter is named Laura Elizabeth. She was given a box set of the books by my grandmother, which fostered a love of all things “Little House” in her. Even through those trying adolescent times, it was a link that always bound us together. She has three boys of her own now, no daughter to share the Little House with, but it’s still a bond we have. Our dream is to travel together to visit some of the places Laura wrote about.

    It gives me a happy glow to know there are so many others who have been touched by the books. I know there is a reality behind the fiction,but it doesn’t change how I feel about Little House. The stories gave me something to strive toward, to be a better person and create a family full of good and positive things. Thanks Laura and thanks for this post, Suzanne.

    From on pigtailed little reader to another,
    Aggiemom

  22. 5-30
    4:17
    pm

    Wait…what do you mean, there is no Santa Claus???

  23. 5-30
    4:24
    pm

    I loved the tv series as a child, but can’t stand it now. So many things didn’t stand up as true to their time and I hate the way “Pa” was made out to be so perfect. I don’t mind my kids watching it sometimes, but the more they watch, the more I see how much fighting there is in the series. Of course, my kids always pick out the negative things to re-enact.

  24. 5-30
    5:00
    pm

    I didn’t read the series when I was a kid, simply because they weren’t available.
    I did see the series on tv as a kid…and LOVED THEM.
    Then 2 years ago I bought the books at a garage sale…and started to dislike Laura’s father a lot
    Things I noticed I know there was more but this comes to mind right away…..and yes it might have been from that time, but if your family is starving you eat at your neighbors (Wilder and his brother) and don’t take anything home for your girls? (I would not eat at all, but ask for food to take home to my starving children) and buying a piano for a daughter who doesn’t live at home anymore, while you have better use for that money?

    Now of course I don’t know if that ever happened for real, but he sure was not a hero…not even in Laura’s books, in my opinion.

  25. 5-30
    5:02
    pm

    btw…I still love Little house on the prairie

  26. 5-30
    5:51
    pm

    I absolutely love the Little House on the Prairie books, and I am from South Dakota where she lived for a short time. People here are OBSESSED with Laura Ingalls, in fact there is even a Laura Ingalls Wilder pageant held every year in DeSmet on land near their original homestead. Here is the link if any of you Laura Ingalls fans would like to ever make the trip and come watch it!
    http://www.desmetpageant.org/
    These books were the first chapter books I ever read and every few years I read them again just to revisit them!

  27. 5-30
    6:19
    pm

    Yes, I read the books as a child and loved them. I used to compare them to the TV series that my girls loved. I knew that Pa had gained a higher place on TV than he had in the books.I had an inkling that Pa might have been a “ner do well” but didn’t bother me none. As far as the kids being farmed out to support the family…my grandmother had to start work at 9 yrs. of age. It was a different time. For some reason I never thought all of the stories were true…just fiction based on facts of the time.
    Funny you should bring this subject up. We had a discussion at work the other day..I thought it was very funny when someone said she would’t read the book because it would “shatter” her perception of Laura!

  28. 5-30
    7:43
    pm

    I didn’t read the books until I was grown up and working as a children’s librarian, in the 1970’s. I loved them then and still do today. I didn’t watch the series on TV very much either. I liked the Waltons much better.
    Just re-read the whole series last winter. I’d like to read the book you talked about too, just to see what she has to say. I did read the whole first chapter on Amazon. Thanks for telling us about it!
    (I do think you look like the TV Laura in that school picture!)

  29. 5-30
    10:09
    pm

    Like you, I spent much of my childhood with long, brown pigtails. I loved the Little House books. I started reading them to my kids a year or two ago, but this time my perspective was different. As an adult, and a mom at that, I viewed Ma through different eyes than I had as a child. I truly understood how TINY the sod house must have been, and how frustrating it must have been to move over and over and over again.

    I ended up reading about the family on Wikipedia, discovering many of the things that you mention above, though in less detail, perhaps. I had had some hint of it in reading The First Four Years, which was published posthumously and with significantly less editing than the previous books. It is a bit disturbing to think about the stories in the grander scheme. It’s not just a year (or two) long adventure. It’s well over a decade of mostly struggling, repeatedly, through really tough times.

  30. 5-31
    10:34
    am

    For a slightly more fair and less biased portrayal of the real family, I recommend “Becoming Laura Ingalls Wilder: The Woman Behind The Legend” by John Miller and “Laura: The Life of Laura Ingalls Wilder” by Donald Zochert.

    While the books were indeed fictionalized, the actual events portrayed in them were based on real events as Laura remembered them, or from stories from family members as they remembered them (as in the case of Little House on the Prairie where she was too young to have any actual memories from that period, she relied on family stories). And yes, Laura did alter things as she wrote the books, either to make things fit into a more cohesive story or to leave out less than pleasant things (such as the death of her younger brother) that she felt was inappropriate to include in a children’s book.

    There is much debate among LIW scholars about how much influence Rose had in her mother’s writings. Some contend that she herself wrote the books alone as a ghost writer, and others contend that she only played the role of editor. No one will ever know for sure of course, but no matter what Rose’s role was, the memories written about were Laura’s and Laura’s alone. Laura already had a successful writing career as a newspaper journalist years before she even considered writing the books (the articles of which have been collected in The Little House in the Ozarks compendium) so she could obviously write; something the Rose-wrote-the-books parties always downplay.

    As far as Pa’s character goes, that too is an area where if you ask 3 different people for their opinions you’ll get 3 different answers. I personally feel many of his decisions were made in response to circumstances which were beyond their control….drought and other weather factors, illness, death, and bad financial times. I don’t view it with rose-colored glasses and think he was perfect; he had his flaws like anyone.

    Can ya tell this is a subject I’m passionate about? lol For anyone who is interested in jumping into LIW lore land further, I recommend the following sites: http://www.pioneergirl.com/
    http://beyondlittlehouse.com/ and http://www.liwfrontiergirl.com/

    Betsy, amateur LIW sleuth :wave:

  31. 5-31
    10:49
    am

    I still have long brown hair, but I wear it in a ponytail or bun now – I went to school with pigtails or braids a lot back in the early 80s. I too received the LHOTP series for my birthday in first grade. It’s funny how much we all want to believe that idyllic version of childhood, with a family that stands firm together no matter what hardship nature or society throws at them. It’s too bad that it is a myth, but not surprising.

    There’s a great book called “The Ghost In The Little House” that analyzes Rose Wilder Lane’s relationship with her mother, and how she essentially took her mother’s memoirs and turned them into novels for children, giving her mother the credit. If you can find Rose’s books and read them, you’ll realize that LHOTP is in Rose’s voice, not Laura’s. But that doesn’t discount their wonder and beauty.

    Thanks for posting about this new book – while I garden and bake and can and have made cheese from scratch, and lived for a time without handy kitchen gadgets to do so, I realize that having a mixer and food processor make life a lot more enjoyable for me. I ordered the book and am interested in reading about Wendy’s exploits. I’ll add it to my giant Little House library.

  32. 5-31
    12:26
    pm

    I have the two box sets from when I was a kid (41 now). They are old and wrinkled. I am VERY interested to hear how Pa was a scoundrel, I think I can handle it.

  33. 5-31
    12:57
    pm

    It amazes me, when I stop and think about it, that I didn’t read the Little House books until I bought myself a boxed set as an adult. I read at least 5 books a week every summer and many times quite a few more….and a minimum of one a week during the school year, and have always been terribly interested in the pioneer life. No idea how I didn’t come across the Wilder books! They remain favorites of mine to this day.

    I did watch and love the television series. I was a Literature major in college and so I do know how to read (and watch) critically but sometimes I choose to just go with the entertainment value and overlook things that are probably not believable. The Little House saga is one of those times. I’ll have to think about reading a book that would pop my bubble :? I’d consider it though because I’ve been doing some genealogical research and my great-granddad was quite a rascal – lived in Indian territory, had a saloon there which was a no-no, went to jail for shooting a man, and he and my great-grandma were divorced in 1915 which was pretty unusual. He and Pa might have a lot in common!

  34. 5-31
    1:39
    pm

    OH, my GOSH! I had no idea about Pa! I have often wondered about what exactly in the Little House books were fictitious. I couldn’t get enough of them when I was young and often bemoaned the fact that there weren’t more books for me to devour! I am definitely going to read this!

  35. 5-31
    2:48
    pm

    I don’t remember reading LHOTP as a child or having them read to me in school but my daughter was always crazy about Laura. Our library has big picture books of the stories. Like one whole chapter retold and illustrated and she started with those when she was just a little baby. We would cuddle up at night, my son and her and I in our big bed when Daddy was taking evening courses or working when he went back to school. He often came home and found us all asleep with a stack of books beside us. As they got older, she’d read the chapter books, but the boy decided they were meant for girls.

    We never much watched the tv show. The kids didn’t care for it at all, don’t know why. I could never get them to read Tom Sawyer with me either for some reason. Funny how different things are between your kids tastes and yours.

  36. 5-31
    7:52
    pm

    I adored These Happy Golden Years when I was little and I still have my childhood copy of the Long Winter. As I’ve grown up though I increasingly dislike Pa. I can’t understand how Caroline put up with him. She seemed to have a pretty decent head on her shoulders but she kept picking up her children and hauling across states after a man who didn’t seem to have much of a plan.

  37. 5-31
    10:42
    pm

    Thanks for the great post. I loved these books too as a child and think they are one of the things that fueled my love for “country living” and self sufficiency. I have an old set and a new set. I started reading them with my daughter when she was 3 or years old and now at 9 she is re-reading them on her own. I liked all the books but Farmer Boy is my top favorite and The Long Winter and The First Four Years are my least. I would probably read this new book but don’t really want to believe anything bad about Pa. I will continue to put him up on a pedestal as a fine and fair man. There are too few of them around.

  38. 6-1
    8:32
    am

    Wonderful post! As with almost everyone above, I was a huge Little House fan as a child, and I still have my box set. I always thought Caroline was a saint for putting up with such a nomadic life. I was never much of a fan of the TV series, tho, as much as I loved Michael Landon. I found it hard to reconcile Mr. Edwards, the wild man, with the TV portrayal. And the Olsens made me cringe. Then again, Nellie made me cringe in the books, too. I’ll have to re-read them this summer, looking for clues about Pa and I’ll definitely be checking out the other references. Thanks for the idea!

  39. 6-1
    10:31
    pm

    I loved the series on TV and so did my kids plus I read some of the books to them one year when their dad and I decided to cancel the cable TV for the summer. We kept that thing off from April until October and it was the best summer EVER. I’m sad to learn about Pa…what a shame. Oh well…Michael Landon will always be Pa to me and my kids. Hope your Thursday is a good one.
    Maura :hungry2:

  40. 6-1
    10:49
    pm

    Character (integrity) is what you do when no one is watching. Pa Wilder should have thought about that.

    Books are Always better than TV or movies.

  41. 6-2
    8:44
    am

    I’m so excited about this new book you found. I’m currently reading the set to my 6 year old daughter and we are planning a trip this July to Desmet (the town where Ma & Pa ultimatly settled) for the Laura Ingalls Wilder pagent. We only live a couple of ours away and it will be neat to show her the place this author lived. (even if some the events were fiction)

  42. 6-2
    2:05
    pm

    I don’t think I can tell my mother… It’ll shatter her.

    Everyone is human, and Laura’s books are “based on” her journals but that leaves a lot in the grey void of interpretation.

    Mom read the book sto us the first time when I was 4 and again when I was about 6, then I started reading them myself.

    There are things in the TV series I don’t like, and yes, in the book sits apparent that Pa didn’t have a lot of a plan at any given time.

    But still, its a nice story, and thats all it needs to be.

  43. 6-2
    4:13
    pm

    As a family we all watched the Little House series and enjoyed it.

    I have known about Pa for a very long time. I was not really surprised but I was disappointed. I wonder if Laura really remembered him in such a glowing way? It is strange how we can all ‘color’ our memories to make them more pleasant.

  44. 3-2
    4:35
    pm

    Growing up, I loved reading these fictional books, and even watching the t.v.series. Even so, I’m not surprised to hear that Pa Ingalls was a ne’erdowell. Before we get all high and mighty, how many people these days have a plan for their lives that they actually follow instead of flying by the seat of their pants? Besides, Laura even admits that she herself was a naughty little girl compared to Mary, and Laura was daddy’s little girl. I see that as a ‘birds of a feather’ kind of thing. Concerning childhood fiction, just consider how traumatizing is it to hear that all the history you learned as a child is really false once you get to college, or you read up on it for yourself. I think parents should get their tax money back from the government for lying to their children. Anyway, adults should be able to hear the truth, and accept reality, as painful as it maybe. I still marvel how many adults lack this level of maturity. They prefer lies to the truth, while there are a few children who possess the ability to hear and accept the truth. So clearly this kind of thing isn’t new. I guess our modern version of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s fictional world seems to be the made up idealistic world of Martha Stewart. Personally, I would love to hear of someone who has researched and written about Almanzo’s family! :chicken:

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The Slanted Little House

"It was a cold wintry day when I brought my children to live in rural West Virginia. The farmhouse was one hundred years old, there was already snow on the ground, and the heat was sparse-—as was the insulation. The floors weren’t even, either. My then-twelve-year-old son walked in the door and said, “You’ve brought us to this slanted little house to die." Keep reading our story....



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