Thursday, August 21, 2008

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder

I've decided to devote some of my reading time to re-reading some classic books that I loved as a child and to reading some books that I've always wanted to read. For example, did you know that I've never read a Lemony Snicket book? The horror!

Well, the Little House series is a series that I did read and LOVE as a child, and I was also an avid fan of the TV show. It's been so long since I've read the books that I wanted to start my "classics re-reading adventure" with this series.

Little House in the Big Woods is the first book in the series and told from the third-person limited point of view of five-year old Laura Ingalls. Laura and her family, Ma, Pa, Mary, and baby Carrie, characters who were near and dear to my heart growing up, live in a long cabin on the edge of a Wisconsin forest. The pioneer life is a hard one, and the days are full of difficult and time-consuming chores. However, there is always time at the end of the day for Pa to play his fiddle and to tell Laura and Mary lots of stories, like the time he mistook a tree stump for a bear. However hard the day, it's quickly apparent that what's lacking in luxury is made up in love.

As soon as I picked up the book and started reading, I immediately got the "warm fuzzies," as memories of Laura came flooding back. Believe it or not, I was delighted that I had forgotten so many details of the books, and it really felt like I was reading them for the first time. I was especially interested in Laura's accounts of killing the pig and curing the meat, churning butter, the maple syrup and cheese-making processes, and more descriptions of how pioneers lived and made things.

There were, however, some instances in the book where I thought the details were sparse and didn't provide a clear picture of what was going on. For example, when Ma and Laura encounter the bear outside the barn, I just couldn't figure out where the bear was standing, even after reading the passage over a few times. Or in the cheese-making process, I couldn't understand exactly WHY the rennet from the calf was so crucial to making cheese. Granted, we are getting an account from a five-year old girl's point of view, but other stories are filled with details.

That aside, I do think that this book will appeal to many young children, especially girls, even after all these years. It really is a wholesome, down-to-earth book about love, family, hard work, and a time long ago. I also think it would make a great read aloud for the entire family, and I'm looking forward to reading the rest of the books in the series and watching Laura grow.

What about you? Were you a Little House fan?

More info:
  • Reading level: Ages 9-12
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: HarperFestival (October 18, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0060797509
  • ISBN-13: 978-0060797508
  • Source of book: Library


  1. Yes, I was a big Little House fan. I wanted to be Laura Ingalls Wilder when I was growing up. I read these earlier in the year as well. And the audio books are fabulous. :)

  2. I was definitely a fan, Jill, although I haven't re-read the books in ... at least 25 years. The Little House books actually have the distinction, for me, of being the first books that I clearly remember reading. I don't have a very good memory for my early childhood, but I remember sitting on the windowsill in my third grade classroom reading these books, and going through the whole series that year (my teacher had them in her classroom library, I think). I do need to go back and read them again.

  3. This was one of the few Christmas "gifts" my mamau bought was usually a check. But I got interested in Little House when my first grade teacher read us Little House in the Big Woods for Wilder's birthday, which happens to be my mamau's birthday! I read nothing but those books for about 3 years, over and over again...I dressed up as Laura for Halloween, complete with pink sunbonnet!

    I just finished rereading the series (in about 2 nights :), and what struck me was the inconsistencies in the later books about Laura's age...she would state that she was 13, but according to my math, and details from previous books, should be 14 already, etc. And there was one scene that made it seem like Almanzo was 19 when he met Laura in De Smet, but he couldn't have been...she would have been 9, and hadn't moved there yet! I've got to go back and read her biography to reconcile some of those...I suppose that is why they are shelved with the fiction!

  4. I loved the Little House books. I "rediscovered" them this last year when my son read them in school. Timeless.

    Laura Ingalls Wilder is one of my favorite people. I've done a lot of research about her and her pre-Little House writing.

  5. Becky,
    I loved Laura Ingalls Wilder, but I wanted to be Trixie Belden. She was my favorite. And I never even thought about the audiobooks. They would be PERFECT for my daily commute!

    I have to say that rereading them has brought back a lot of memories of my childhood, and I'm only on the second book now! I'm also enjoying rereading all of the forgotten details. I think the first series books I remember reading and enjoying were Judy Blume's Fudge books and Beverley Cleary's Ramona books. I think I'll put those on my list to read again.

    What a great gift from your mamau! My Grandma Daisy gave me a boxed set of the Anne of Green Gables books one Christmas, and I can't even count the number of times I read those.

    I'll keep an eye out for the inconsistencies as I read the series.

    I'm definitely more interested in learning more about Laura Ingalls Wilder. Do you have any book recommendations?