So my first book of 2018 was a kids book, and I didn’t even read it to one of my kids! My oldest read it on her own and I decided to give it a quick read last night for myself. I’ve been a big fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House books ever since I read them in second grade. I still remember my second-grade teacher taking me to the bookcase in the school library and suggesting I read the series. (I also continue to be irked that she did not recommend them to me in chronological order but rather had me start with Little House on the Prairie.)
So, I went my entire childhood and most of my adult life thus far believing the Little House books were nonfiction. And then. I found them for my daughter in the “JFIC” section of the library. MY WORLD WAS UPENDED. Ok, not really, but I was disappointed. I felt like I had been lied to, which is kind of ridiculous, but I felt unsettled knowing the books were partly/mostly true but not knowing which parts! This was obviously not a pressing priority in my life, but I did kind of have in the back of my mind the desire to read more about Laura’s actual life and about the writing of the books. I happened upon Prairie Girl in the library one day, and so I checked it out — more for me than for my daughter, though she did read it first 🙂
On its own, the book isn’t amazing, but I did enjoy it. It’s nowhere near as engaging as Laura Ingalls Wilder’s own writing, but it is a very simple and approachable biography for a child and a great introduction to her biography for an adult. It very straightforwardly addresses tragic events (like the deaths of Laura’s infant brother and later her infant son), which seemed to go over well for my daughter. It helped put the fiction books into context for me and understand how Laura herself could say the “stories” were “true” without being works of nonfiction, and I learned a lot about her adult life. It seems strange, in a way, to think of adult Laura owing a car — in my mind she’s always the little girl in the covered wagon or the teen in a buggy with Almanzo, her suitor.
In any case, this is a lot of rambling today but I wanted to share my first book of the year! I got an overall positive feeling from the book and now I’m interested in reading a biography of hers written for adults rather than children.
**So I wrote most of this post last week for last week’s Top Ten Tuesday… and then I lost it. My personal IT support team (read: my husband, who has never used WordPress before) kindly unearthed it for me. So, I’m wrapping it up and posting it for this week instead. Enjoy!
It’s Top Ten Tuesday time again, hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s theme is “bookish settings you’d like to visit.” My first participation in Top Ten Tuesday I slacked off and didn’t get to ten, but I’m going to do better this time. Here goes:
- Narnia – I’ve been reading The Chronicles of Narnia with my eldest daughter the past two years and Narnia is so full of adventures!
- Mammoth Lakes, California – This is the setting of Stopping the Road, which I wrote about last week. My husband was out there this summer to climb in the Sierra with his sister. When I’m done nursing (it WILL happen someday soon) and back in climbing shape (that will take a bit longer…) I’d love to get out there with him myself!
- Alaska – I recently read Braving It and while I don’t quite want to experience the Alaskan wild in the same way Cameron and his daughter do, Alaska is definitely on my list of places I’d like to go.
- Israel/the Holy Land – Frequent readers around here know I’m passionately Catholic, and the Holy Land is near the top of my list of places to go. I recently read An Unexpected Afterlife (review forthcoming), which takes place in Jerusalem. It’s a fascinating read; I definitely want to read the sequel!
- Scotland – Loch Ness Monster, anyone? A lot of At the Water’s Edge takes place in Scotland, and though I’m sure it’s entirely different now than it was in the 1940s (which is when the book takes place), it certainly seems like an interesting place to visit.
- The body farm – A body farm is a facility where researchers study decomposition. Apparently there are six in the United States, and I know that at least the one at the University of Tennessee offers tours. I’ve always been fascinated by forensic anthropology; Dead Men Do Tell Tales is just one of many books I’ve read on the subject.
- Calabria – Ok, so I’ve already been there, but I’d love to go again. I had the great privilege of going there as a teenager and seeing the towns where my great-grandparents grew up. I remember thinking it was a place stuck in the past, and I wonder what it looks like today. Strega Nona is a favorite of mine, and I love that she lives “in a little town in Calabria.”
- Vietnam – Senior year of college I took a class on postwar Vietnam and it was fascinating; I’ve wanted to visit ever since. The Unwanted, a memoir written about the plight of mixed-race children of Vietnamese women and American soldiers, was assigned reading for the course and I’ve never forgotten it.
- Who-ville – I want to be clear here that I mean the Who-ville of How The Grinch Stole Christmas and not Horton Hears a Who. I mean, it’s the same Who-ville but I want to visit at Christmas – to join the Whos for the singing and the feast, not the drop into a field of clovers…
- Plum Creek – I think I’ve mentioned before that I loved the Little House on the Prairie books so much as a kid that I wanted to return the whole country to covered wagon times. Well, after rereading several of the books in the series with my daughter, I think I’ve decided that Plum Creek (where they live in On the Banks of Plum Creek) is my favorite location. There’s something about living in a dugout house along the creek that still seems wonderful, even though my adult, mom-eyes have a whole new perspective on the life of the Ingalls family!