I am re-reading the entire series now, which I read repeatedly when I was a child in the 1970s. I know there is a lot of controversy around this partiI am re-reading the entire series now, which I read repeatedly when I was a child in the 1970s. I know there is a lot of controversy around this particular book now: the descriptions of the Indians, for one, as well as the fact that Laura was so young when her family lived in the little house on the prairie that she is not telling this story from her own memories. Regardless, it is a classic adventure story. The family sets off on a long journey for parts unknown. They face many life-threatening dangers, not only on the journey, but also in the strange new land, but they triumph over them. In the end, finally facing defeat, they set off for a new life with some regrets and sorrow, but with a sense of anticipation that all will be well.
The descriptions are vivid and bring the prairie to life. I feel the loneliness of the vast expanses, the hotness of the sun, the blowing of the wind, the restlessness. The prairie is at turns charming and frightening. It is also marvelous to know that Pa can pull his family up to a spot on the prairie and build a house with a fireplace, and furnish it, using materials he finds right there for free on the land.
As for the description of the Indians, it is true when I was a child reading this book on my own, not with a parent or as part of a school curriculum, that the Indians frightened me. Now with my adult eye, I can see that there is sympathy for the Indians. Laura asks Ma why they moved to Indian Territory if Ma is so afraid of the Indians (a question without an answer!). Pa wants to be on good terms (albeit to take their land away from them, but he at least seems to have some respect for their culture). I think this book is a good springboard for discussion on these issues. ...more
I first read this book shortly after it was published in the early 1990s. I serendipitously read it at Christmas time, not realizing the Christmas sesI first read this book shortly after it was published in the early 1990s. I serendipitously read it at Christmas time, not realizing the Christmas sesason was a key part of the plot. I loved the book back then, and it has always been on my "favorites" list, as well as a book I regularly recommend. I re-read it for the first time at Christmas '09, because I wanted a seasonal read, and also I wanted to see if it held up to my memories. Hmmm. I did still like it very much, but I think if I were reading it now for the first time it would garner only an "it's okay" rating. The story bounces back and forth between Christmas 2054 and Christmas in the Middle Ages. Kivrin, a university student at Oxford, is sent back in time to study the middle ages, but things go awry in both time periods, and we don't know who will survive in either time period, or if Kivrin will even make it home. When I read the book in 1993, the future in the book seemed, well, futuristic, but now 2054 seemed oddly antiquated, because a large part of the suspense in 2054 stems from Mr. Dunworthy not being able to get a hold of people. What happened to texting, email, cell phones? It just seemed odd that he still had to stumble to public phones and use directory assistance. All of those troubles would be irrelevant if he had 2009 technology on his hands. I realize this book was written before such technology was widespread, but still, it unfortunately weakened the book for me. Overall, though, the main themes of human nature, friendship, dealing with a crisis, remain strong, and I still like the book and recommend it. ...more
This story opens 4 years after On the Banks of Plum Creek ended. Laura is 12 now, and she has a new baby sister, Grace. The family has suffered the paThis story opens 4 years after On the Banks of Plum Creek ended. Laura is 12 now, and she has a new baby sister, Grace. The family has suffered the past four years. They were all ill with scarlet fever, and Mary was blinded by the sickness. Pa was never able to grow a profitable crop of wheat. They are a sad and almost hopeless lot at the beginning of the book when Pa's sister, Docia, drives up and offers Pa a job as storekeeper and bookkeeper on a railroad building site to the west. There really is nothing to lose by selling the farm and moving. Onward the family goes for what was truly their final move.
Laura is no longer a little girl. She has real responsibilities now. Pa has told her she must be Mary's eyes, so Laura is always describing to Mary what Mary cannot see. Mary tells Laura that she makes pictures when she talks. Certainly being Mary's eyes perfected Laura's true gift for vivid description!
Vivid descriptions do abound, from the thrilling train ride at the unthinkable speed of 20 miles per hour to the building of the railroad further west. The reader is right there experiencing it all: many prairie sunrises and sunsets, flocks of birds flying overhead and landing on the lake, the sights and sounds of the prairie in all its different moods and seasons. I've been to the surveyors' house in De Smet, and it really is exactly as Laura described it!
This book covers one year, from spring to spring. Many changes happen not only to the Ingalls family in that year, but to the prairies as well. The town of DeSmet springs up almost overnight, and Laura was there to see it happen.
I have read this several times over the last 20 years, and recently listened to the Audible version. I love that in this telling, Beauty comes from aI have read this several times over the last 20 years, and recently listened to the Audible version. I love that in this telling, Beauty comes from a loving and supportive family. The descriptions of the setting paint a clear picture without being overdone. The enchantments of the castle are charming even when they are mostly silent. As Beauty falls in love with the Beast, she doesn't realize that is what is happening. All she notices is that things in the enchanted castle are becoming clearer to her, and she feels she is on the verge of discovery. What a nice way to depict love!
I finished this book with a lump in my throat, feeling sad for the end of Laura's childhood as well as the end of my own. I find it impossible to critI finished this book with a lump in my throat, feeling sad for the end of Laura's childhood as well as the end of my own. I find it impossible to critique these books objectively because they are part of my childhood; I'm too close to them. So, I give them all 5 stars (except Farmer Boy, because I don't have the nostalgia factor with that one and can be a bit more objective).
These Happy Golden Years starts immediately where Little Town on the Prairie ends. Fifteen-year-old Laura has a job as a school teacher 12 miles from town. She is sad and homesick, but Almanzo comes to her rescue by driving out in the Dakota winter weather to bring her home every Friday. The story covers the next three years of Laura's life, showing her growing into full womanhood as she takes on more jobs, spends more time away from Pa and Ma's Little House, and falls in love with and marries her beau. There isn't a melancholy tone to this book, even though Laura thinks about and talks about growing up and what that means, but it still makes me a little bit sad.
A note about Mrs. Brewster: when I was a kid I thought that woman was crazy, but now I feel nothing but sympathy for her. That homesteading life wasn't for the faint of heart. Poor thing. I wonder what happened to her?...more
With this book, the focus of the series shifts from the Ingalls as a family to Laura as a young woman. She is 13 when the book begins and 15 when it eWith this book, the focus of the series shifts from the Ingalls as a family to Laura as a young woman. She is 13 when the book begins and 15 when it ends. This book picks up right where The Long Winter ended, and even though the Ingalls have moved back to their claim for the summer, Laura is walking back into town every morning to sew shirts at a drygoods store to earn money to help send Mary to college.
A lot happens in this story. After several books of hoping for it, Mary finally does leave for college. DeSmet is growing rapidly, more and more people are moving into the area, the school house gets very crowded, the Ingalls spend the winters in town, and Laura makes friends with boys and girls her own age. She begins to feel restless and isn't sure what it is she wants, but as the town becomes quite lively with literary evenings and socials and private parties and church revivals, Laura isn't restless any more. (Pa in black face at one literary evening--ugh. The best I can say about that is that it opens up the door for discussions on racism.) Laura becomes interested in being stylish, she cuts her hair into a "lunatic fringe", she gets hoops for her skirts. I am so impressed that the elderly Laura Ingalls Wilder remembered the *feelings* of being a teenager so well! She captured the innocence of childhood in the earlier books, and now the moods of a young girl as she transitions into the teen and adult years are remarkably portrayed in the later books of the series.
As she matures, Laura notices surprising things about Ma. She realizes as they are sewing Mary's good dress for college that Ma does not like to sew. And after a town-wide New England Supper on Thanksgiving, when it seems that all the women slave away cooking and serving and cleaning while the men and children sit and eat, Ma is a little bit tense about it.
And, finally, Almanzo Wilder begins courting Laura. She fudges his age a bit in these books. In reality he was 10 years older than she was, so he should be 25 (to her 15--ick!), but in this book she says he is 23. When I was a kid I had the same reaction as Pa and Ma to Almanzo approaching Laura: shock and horror. What does that man want with my Laura?? But now I find it all rather sweet, and I love how Laura describes herself as being tongue-tied and feeling awkward. ...more
I saw this book at an antiquarian book fair and was immediately drawn to the beautifully illustrated cover. Yes, I judged a book by its cover, but thaI saw this book at an antiquarian book fair and was immediately drawn to the beautifully illustrated cover. Yes, I judged a book by its cover, but that's okay when it's a picture book. This is a collection of nursery rhymes, illustrated with sweet drawings, most of them in black and white, but some in full color. I was already planning to buy the book just from the cover alone, but when I realized the nursery rhymes were arranged in alphabetical order, making this an ABC book, I think I actually shed tears of joy....more
I read this book REPEATEDLY when I was a kid. I adored Judy, and was completely enchanted by her letters to Daddy. She was so witty, and so honest, anI read this book REPEATEDLY when I was a kid. I adored Judy, and was completely enchanted by her letters to Daddy. She was so witty, and so honest, and so determined to be happy. She drew cute little pictures in her letters, which added to the charm. I always remember her making a window seat out of her bureau, smashing a centipede in half with her hair brush, making taffy at night with the other girls, her summers on the farm, and her silk stockings. I was young enough when I first read it that I did not figure out who Daddy really was, but if I were to read it now for the first time, I'd see right through it. I tried to read Dear Enemy a few years ago, but couldn't get into it. ...more
I knew the big secret before I read the book, but that didn't ruin the story for me one little bit. This is gorgeously told--funny, sad, and very realI knew the big secret before I read the book, but that didn't ruin the story for me one little bit. This is gorgeously told--funny, sad, and very real. ...more
Not my first reading of this, but it hasn't lost its charm over the years. Parts of it are a little dated, but overall it has aged well and is still eNot my first reading of this, but it hasn't lost its charm over the years. Parts of it are a little dated, but overall it has aged well and is still entertaining and relevant. I hope the publishers don't try to update it to be more modern. It's okay if today's kids have to ask what a news reel is!
I think the guppy chapter is my favorite, although the fact that Mrs. Huggins is going to use those fruit jars to store fruit in again after the guppies have lived in them really grosses me out.
I love that the children in this book are left to their own devices, even as far as 3rd-grader Henry riding the city bus by himself (!). The children come up with solutions on their own when problems present themselves. And there are true laugh-out-loud moments in every chapter.
This book does not have any hint of being someone's first published story, but it was indeed Ms. Cleary's first book. She was a natural story teller!
Sweet story about a king and a princess and the princess's three suitors who must bring the king something AMAZING from the forest to win the princessSweet story about a king and a princess and the princess's three suitors who must bring the king something AMAZING from the forest to win the princess's hand in marriage. Each prince finds some truly amazing things--that forest is full of wonderful creatures! What amazing thing will the king like best?...more