-posted by Meghan
The best part of working on a new list is thinking about the books for that category that I loved at that age. When I need to relax at night, I don’t usually flip on the TV – I reach for a beloved old book-friend, usually something I read between the ages of 10 and 14. This means I have many of my favorites close to memorized.
But some of the books we end up talking and writing about here aren’t the ones I have re-read. We’ve been working on lots of lists for younger ages, and I don’t tend to re-read those, unless my own kids are ready for them. And with the exception of The House at Pooh Corner, I can’t yet get them into chapter books. So writing about Little House this week made me re-visit the series, and brought up a whole slew of memories. Things tend to stay in my head, buzzing around and making me crazy, until I write them down and get rid of them, so here goes:
-I hadn’t realized how young I was when my parents started reading these books to me. So if you think your kids are too young- they just might be ready! My copy of By the Shores of Silver Lake (ironically, my least favorite of the whole series) is inscribed in my father’s handwriting “This book is given to Meg on Feb 25 1978 because we finished the Plum Creek birthday book so soon. Love, Mommy and Daddy.” Pathetically, this brings tears to my eyes.
-We had started reading the series around when my baby brother was born, and I remember how much it meant to me to have that alone reading time with my parents that a baby couldn’t share.
-I love food. I’ve probably mentioned that a few times, and will mention it a few more. And for all the food porn I’ve read (Like Water for Chocolate, Chocolat, Comfort Me With Apples…) the one book that really gets me salivating just thinking about it is Farmer Boy! The description of their Christmas dinner… and how they ate fresh apples, homemade donuts and popcorn til they thought they’d burst… mmmmm. This book is awesome for the food descriptions alone. Not to mention the tension I still feel crawling up my neck when I think about Almanzo throwing the blacking brush at Eliza Jane.
-When I re-read the books as an adult, I finally understood a line I’d never gotten. In These Happy Golden Years, when Laura and Almanzo get engaged and she came home to tell Ma and Pa, Ma says, “I declare Laura, sometimes I wonder if you love the man or the horses best.” And Laura says, “I wouldn’t have one without the other,” but they knew she was too shy to say. (Bear with me, I’m sure I’ve gotten that wrong, I’m doing the quote from memory.) For years I thought she was too shy to admit she was marrying him for the horses. As a kid, that made perfect sense. But when I re-read it as an adult, I got that she was shy and totally in love with Almanzo. I have to admit I was pretty relieved!
-I hope Molly at least, if not both the kids, love these books. I always wanted to go to Misoula, MT to visit Rocky Ridge Farm. (That website, by the way is pretty fun too – with some coloring pages and quizzes for kids.) It’s a little sad if I take that trip alone as a grown woman. But taking my daughter would make me a super Mom!
-And finally, if you loved the books as a kid too, do yourself a favor. Go back and re-read them. You’ll zip right through. Then read a bio of Laura-Laura by Donald Zochert is a fun and easy read intended for younger readers (early teens, not young kids). There’s TONS of interesting stuff about her life that never made it to the books.